Coffee and Exercise
Although regular exercise usually makes you feel fantastic, with better energy and a more positive state of mind, you aren’t always excited for the short-term work of it. This is especially true if you have to get out of bed early to work out before starting your day. Exercise is incredibly important in any fitness and weight loss regimen, but sometimes you need a bit of help. Can coffee safely provide that assistance? The medical field has gone from one extreme to the other concerning coffee, caffeine and your health. There used to be concern that coffee could lead to hypertension and heart problems. And it is true that too much coffee may contribute to shakiness and trouble sleeping. But caffeine has been proven to be a safe, healthy and gentle stimulant. That’s great news, considering coffee is one of the most widely-consumed beverages the world over. So the simple answer is that you shouldn’t worry about adverse effects, and in fact coffee could greatly benefit your workout.
The American College of Sports Medicine has studied caffeine’s relationship to exercise pretty extensively. Coffee is basically healthy, and it is the dairy and sugar products you add to it that cause health issues over time. According to several reputable studies, if you drink between two and six cups of caffeinated coffee one hour before you work out you will enjoy improved endurance. The benefit showed up when the test subjects were engaged in short burst, intense activities. That means exercising at near peak performance for five minutes or less. The changes are significant enough that the International Olympic Committee actually forbids their athletes from having more than four cups of coffee within a half hour of taking part in competition.
So why is this the case? Nothing has been completely proven, but there is a commonly accepted explanation. Basically, drinking coffee within a certain period before your workout helps the body maintain a positive level of glycogen in muscles. Studies have shown that coffee consumption tells the body to burn fat instead of carbohydrates and sugars. That allows you to maintain a workout regimen near your peak levels for longer than you would be able to without it. Some recent studies actually say the improvement is as much as 60%. That’s a huge leap, and will probably send you running for a fresh cup before working out.
There are a couple of caveats, however. First of all, you should be careful if you are taking creatine supplements. Creatine is also used to improve endurance, but caffeine seems to actually cut down the effectiveness of this supplement to near zero. Basically you will have to choose one or the other and stick with it, otherwise you’ll waste money and calories.
Also, coffee isn’t the most perfect way to deliver caffeine to your body. You cannot consistently regulate the amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee. Different beans have different levels of caffeine, and there will always be variations between one pot of fresh coffee and another. In addition, the process of roasting coffee beans removes some of the positive effects of the caffeine on your workout. So if you want to be scientific about it, you would take a caffeine capsule, or have an exercise drink supplemented with caffeine instead. That way you’ll be able to hit the proper amount of caffeine for your needs. Now, most of us aren’t professional athletes, and simply getting out of bed for the morning workout is enough of an achievement. In that case, brew yourself an extra large mug and ride the rush all the way to the elliptical machine!