If you’ve ever needed a little perking up to get going in the morning or focus in on a project in the late afternoon, you’re probably already well aware of the benefits of coffee for boosting focus and performance. But did you know that coffee is actually a uniquely well-suited pre and post-workout drink that can improve your workouts and recovery?
The caffeine in coffee can help to get you to that needed energy boost, and sustain it throughout the duration of the workout. Studies have shown that caffeine intake of around 100 milligrams can reduce drowsiness and help you work out for longer. Higher doses, of around 200 mg or more, have been shown to have positive effects on improving anaerobic performance (i.e.sprinting, lifting heavy weights, etc.). With a typical 8 ounce cup of coffee having about 100 mg of caffeine, this means that depending on what you want out of your workout having 1-2 cups or more before working out could help you get the most out of your time in the gym. For most people, drinking coffee around 30-60 minutes before working out should give it enough time to kick in fully. The exact timing will vary from person to person and day to day as factors such as whether or not the coffee is had with food or not can impact how quickly it’s felt.
Even better, coffee’s fitness-related benefits aren’t limited to energy and strength boosts, it helps with recovery as well. A study from the American Physiological Society found that caffeine can aid your body’s attempts to rebuild muscle tissue. When combined with a source of carbohydrates, it was shown to improve an athlete’s ability to get glycogen into their muscles. In fact, athletes who combined caffeine with their normal post-workout food and supplement consumption were found to have 66% more muscle-repairing glycogen in their bodies than those who skipped the caffeine.
Why coffee? As a natural caffeine source, coffee is one of the healthiest ways to get your dose without any unwanted additions. Free from the same kinds of processing, chemicals, and additives found in many supplements and energy drinks, coffee gets you ready for the gym without you taking a hit on your diet. And when taken black, coffee also helps you avoid the high sugar and calorie levels of other caffeinated drinks. Coffee has a relatively moderate level of caffeine, whereas many pre-workout drinks or caffeine supplements can tend to be overkill. Contrary to what many might think, you don’t need to be chugging gallons of caffeinated and sugar-loaded energy drinks in order to get the benefits out of caffeine. Moderate intake, from the 100 -300 or so milligrams is shown to be most effective. Black coffee is perfectly suited to this job as that amount is basically one or two large mugs, and it’ll taste a lot better along the way.
Of course, it is possible to form a caffeine dependency, so it’s important to keep an eye on how much caffeine you’re having. By moderating the frequency and quantity of your caffeine intake you can avoid the effects of dependency which range from headaches to dulling the positive effects of caffeine. If you are beginning to see decreased effects from the same caffeine levels it can be beneficial to cease caffeine intake altogether for a period of days, or longer, in order to help your body reset its tolerance. By doing this occasional auditing of your caffeine intake you can help avoid getting headaches and ensure that you’ll be able to get that extra energy boost when you need it.