As well as being pretty much one of our most favourite things on the planet, coffee also has an incredible amount of benefits for the human body. Taken in acceptable amounts, it stimulates our nervous system and fine tunes our metabolism, helping us manage our energy expenditure and give us easier access to the lovely little hormone C9H13NO3 - otherwise known as adrenaline. Because of this, it’s a perfect partner to a regular and healthy exercise and training routine - but what’s the best way to make sure you’re getting the most out of your morning cup of coffee?
When drunk first thing in the morning, coffee gives your metabolism a helpful little kickstart, meaning your body clicks into gear and starts burning those calories straight out of the gate.
However, whilst it may seem like we get a lightning bolt of energy as soon as take that first sip of coffee, it actually takes the average stomach between 20-40minutes to absorb coffee, which means we don’t really start to see the stimulatory effects properly until about 30mins after we’ve knocked it back. Obviously, these figures can change depending on anything from an individual’s metabolism to how much food you’ve already got in your belly, so as a rule, try drinking your cup of coffee around an hour before you start your exercise routine to make sure you’re getting the most out of it.
Another great reason to use coffee as part of a healthy pre-workout routine is that you know exactly what you’re getting. Now, this may just be for those on the more ‘intense’ side of the exercise-spectrum, but a lot of workout supplements contain all kinds of additives and questionable stimulants. The only ingredient you’ll find in coffee is, well, coffee (and maybe a splash of milk if you add it).
So what does coffee do to help you during your workout? Keeping it relatively simple, coffee gets your brain into the zone - allowing you to focus and concentrate on getting the most out of your workout routine. By giving you easier access to your energy reserves and decreasing tiredness, it helps you push through those last few reps or getting you over that last steep hill, effectively helping you work harder, and work longer.
Getting a bit more into it, coffee also encourages your body to use fat as a source of fuel as opposed to your body’s first choice of energy, glucose. This helps burn fat, and also helps spare your energy reserves. A definite win-win!
The benefits don’t just stop when you stop - even after exercise, coffee can help your body recover quicker. Research has shown that coffee can help reduce post-workout pain by almost 50% by effectively blocking access to some of your body’s pain receptors during and after intense activity.
That’s not to say you need to start glugging more coffee as soon as you’ve finished your workout;
Whilst coffee has its benefits when it comes to exercise, there’s a couple of points that you need to pay attention to...
Coffee is a diuretic, and as such, you’ll lose more water and electrolytes than you would normally do - so make sure you stay hydrated.
This is super important. Coffee is great, but you can always have too much of a good thing. Most adults should be okay with around 400mg of caffeine a day, but don’t be gulping back all this just before you hit the gym - caffeine causes jitteriness and headaches when consumed too quickly which could cause all kinds of issues during exercise.
The most important thing is to make sure you use caffeine as part of a healthy workout or exercise routine - use your head, listen to your body, and you’ll be fine!