How To: Why You Should Be Drinking Coffee Instead of Water Before a Workout

Why You Should Be Drinking Coffee Instead of Water Before a Workout

Why You Should Be Drinking Coffee Instead of Water Before a Workout

Nothing gets me functioning in the morning better than strong coffee. And if I'm going to start my day with a dreaded workout, that steaming cup of caffeine is the exact motivation I need to get going. Although coffee might not seem like the best beverage to drink before hitting the gym, it actually has a few hidden benefits over water that may surprise you.

Coffee Gives You an Energy Boost

In an interview with BuzzFeed Life, exercise physiologist Tim Coyle of ComiteMD stated that the caffeine in an average cup of coffee sets your body's fat cells free, which makes them available for your body to use as an extra energy source.

With those additional cells working to wake you up, you'll also feel capable of working harder—meaning you can push through your workout with more energetic force and motivation than with just water.

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Coffee Makes Your Exercise Feel Easier

A team of researchers from Griffith University published a study in the Journal of Applied Physiology that examined the average coffee drinker's workouts—and if caffeine could play a beneficial role in gym time.

The study began by mimicking a routine that's familiar to many of us: a cup of coffee right after waking up, a workout, and a coffee-and-food breakfast—but participants didn't always receive true coffee, though. About 90 minutes before the scheduled workout, researchers gave the individuals an 8-ounce cup of coffee, or a placebo.

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Those who drank coffee leading up to their exercise regimen reported feeling their workout was easier than when performed without caffeine. Whether from the extra burst of energy provided by a cup of coffee, or the participants' perception of their energy level after ingesting caffeine, they were able to power through exercise more easily.

Coffee Can Help You Burn More Calories

A study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism and conducted by Spanish researchers discovered just how much caffeine impacts metabolism.

They examined athletes during their average training regimen, giving some caffeine and others placebos. Those who ingested 300 milligrams of caffeine (about one cup of coffee) before working out burned 15 percent more calories—and their bodies continued feeling the burn for three hours after their exercise ended.

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Of course, beverages beyond coffee offer caffeine as well. Yet choosing sugary caffeinated drinks like soda will do more damage than good. While caffeine gets your body burning calories, the additives and sugars in soda can lead to weight gain.

Coffee Can Soothe Post-Workout Pain

For some of you, feeling the pain and aches of a workout days later is a sign of an effective workout. For the rest of us, though, it just makes us want to skip the gym and just sit on the couch. However, coffee can help with that.

In 2007, researchers at the University of Georgia found that an average person's caffeine intake is enough to fight the pain felt post-workout.

They tested the effects of caffeine versus common over-the-counter pain relievers, and found that two cups of coffee prior to exercise left participants feeling 48 percent less sore afterward. Meanwhile, common pain relief medications naproxen and aspirin reduced soreness by just 30 and 25 percent, respectively.

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Just Don't Go Overboard

Before you begin gulping coffee down instead of water every time you want to workout, remember that ingesting too much caffeine does have negative side effects. So in order to make the most out of your morning joe, Health.com contributor Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD suggests you keep a few rules in mind.

  • Each person handles caffeine differently. Instead of drinking as much as you can, stick to the recommended maximum for your body weight: 6 milligrams per kilogram. For example, a 150 pound person should only consume 400 milligrams, or 16 ounces of coffee, each day.
  • Try to consume your caffeine in the same manner and amount each day. Coffee, as a natural diuretic, can dehydrate your body, creating harmful effects while you workout. Yet if you stick to a set maximum each day, your body adapts and grows used to that amount, and can prepare for the potentially dehydrating effects. If your usual is three cups of coffee, don't suddenly start increasing your number on random days.
  • Instead of sticking to coffee on an empty stomach, try adding your morning caffeine to fruit smoothies, swapping creamer for almond milk and cinnamon, or even mixing it into oats or quinoa.
  • As great as coffee is, don't forget to keep yourself hydrated and healthy with water. Coffee is not a replacement for water! Replenish your body post-workout with water to balance the diuretic powers of caffeine and keep your body working well.

How does coffee affect your workout? Share your experience below!

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