Starting the day with a cup of coffee (Image from Pixabay)
What you know now about drinking coffee could be different the next day. One source says it’s good for the heart when limited to less than six cups a day. Another source says it doubles the risk of cancer when drank too hot.
The same is true when drinking coffee before a workout. It is said to boost your performance, what with the shot of caffeine working as an ergogenic aid, increasing endurance, energy, and focus. On the other end of the spectrum, drinking coffee is bad for your health for a variety of reasons.
So, which is it exactly?
It all comes down to the fact that coffee has its share of pros and cons and, for some people, drinking it pre-workout can have adverse effects.
What do the experts say about drinking coffee before a workout?
- Avoid if you’re not a coffee drinker to begin with
This is especially true if you experience some of the negative effects of caffeine–feeling shaky, slightly anxious, irritability, fast heartbeat, muscle tremors, etc. If you feel any of these things after drinking a cup, you can bet your workout performance will be shot.
So, don’t down a cup of joe just because someone says it worked for them. Different people have different responses to coffee and caffeine. This is why experts suggest listening to your body and its reaction to the drink.
- Don’t do it if you’re going through adrenal exhaustion
This happens when your adrenal glands are worked to the bone repeatedly due to lack of sleep, excess caffeine in your diet, emotional worry or fear, and a super-hectic lifestyle. Long-term mental, physical, and emotional stress lead to adrenal fatigue. When the stress hormone is combined with the acidity of coffee, it will cause heartburn, indigestion, and an imbalance in your gut flora.
Again, such effects vary from one person to another. Many studies on the effect of caffeine on cortisol have discovered varying scientific pieces of evidence. It has no effect in some cases but may increase production in others.
- Ditch it if you’re already amped up
Or when the music or atmosphere in the gym provides enough stimulation. In this case, drinking coffee might pump you up further and cause anxiety.
Then, there are other advantages to coffee as a pre-workout drink…
Getting ready for the first lift (Image from Pixabay)
- Reduced blood flow
According to a report in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, two cups of coffee contain enough caffeine to reduce the body’s ability to get blood to your heart and increase flow. Reduced blood flow means that your body won’t be able to meet the higher demand for nutrients and oxygen during exercise.
- Difficulty sleeping
A recent study showed that regular intake of caffeine affects sleep patterns. According to the Medical Director of the Center for Sleep, Allergy, and Sinus Wellness in Boynton Beach, Florida, David C. Brodner, MD, “Caffeine is a stimulant and therefore impedes sleep.”
Since it takes six hours for just half of the caffeine to be eliminated from the body, too much can lead to insomnia. If you are restless and keep waking up all night, you won’t have a satisfying workout.
Now, you might be tempted to reach for a cup to give you that boost of energy but it could be the start of another vicious cycle. Under the circumstances, you are better off drinking lots of water and weaning yourself from coffee.
As you can see, drinking coffee before a workout is not all that great. It is also unclear how many cups of joe you need to drink to get the benefits they’re supposed to bring to exercise.
Based on a recent study conducted by Brazilian researchers, however, you may need four cups to be able to exercise faster and longer. Research participants who took a pill that contained caffeine that is equivalent to four cups showed increased performance.
That’s a lot for a pre-workout drink.
The advice on when best to down the coffee before a workout is not definitive either. Some say 15 minutes, while others say 45 minutes prior.
What are better pre-workout alternatives?
- Get enough sleep
As one of the best performance enhancers, you will have more energy and endurance to work out the next day if you get a good night’s sleep. You will feel less hungry, too, so it aids in your weight loss efforts.
Rather than drinking coffee, you should drink lots of water instead. This will keep your energy levels high and replenish the water you lose when you sweat.
- Eat a small healthy snack
Do this if you feel hungry before working out. Too much would make you nauseated, so keep your pre-workout meal to a small amount.
Some of the highly recommended pre-workout foods are:
- Dried fruits
- Fruit and Greek yogurt
- Whole grain bread
- Trail mix
- Grilled chicken, broccoli, and sweet potato
- Take caffeine-free pre-workout stimulants
Why suffer from insomnia, mood swings, muscle tremors, and jitters from your pre-workout coffee when there are supplements that can do a better job minus the side effects? Get the most stimulation and energy from some of these options, such as Pumpsure, Organic Muscle, and Evolution Nutrition.
Different products have something different to offer, too. These are increased mental focus and endurance, increased muscle blood flow, and no crash and jitters.
Still, want to drink a coffee before you hit the gym?