Coffee and Your Workout
Why not both? (image courtesy Fentress Crossfit)We're big believers in the health benefits of coffee. After all, we've already seen how coffee can fight the effects of aging, stave off Alzheimer's and cancer, improve memory, and even fight obesity. As the research into coffee grows, science seems to uncover new benefits to coffee almost daily. However, it's worth mentioning that sometimes those benefits don't come from coffee alone. When used as part of your workout routine, coffee has the potential to supercharge your workout routine, whether you're using it before, during, or after your workout. Coffee Pre-Workout The alertness that comes with a cup of pre-workout coffee helps to keep you motivated and helps the time go faster. Coffee is also known to reduce pain both during and after your workout. Coffee has been shown to improve circulation (which is helpful for any exercise, but especially during cardio), helps you to train longer and harder, and accelerates fat burn. One benefit of coffee continues after your workout: research has shown that drinking coffee before (or before and after) your workout helps to control your appetite later, leading to smarter and healthier food choices and helping to limit calorie intake. Coffee During Your Workout While it seems that pre-workout coffee gets all the press, a little pick-me-up during your workout or big game can work wonders (distance runners will attest to this, as will Serena Williams). If your spirits or your energy start to flag, a cup of coffee can give you a mild lift that helps to keep you going. Post-Workout Coffee Here, coffee has two chief benefits. As we've previously reported, coffee helps to reduce aches and pains, which can be just what the doctor ordered after a long workout. And, as coffee drinkers everywhere will happily tell you,* coffee is great for fighting fatigue, getting you back on your feet faster. Pairing coffee with a light carb (like a banana) boosts the benefit. Of course, there are caveats. For one thing, coffee is a mild diuretic. While it won't lead directly to dehydration if you drink in moderation, you'll still want to be sure that you're staying well-hydrated. Drinking your coffee black is also advisable, since cream and/or sugar (to say nothing of syrups, whipped cream, shaved chocolate, or caramel) can quickly cancel out any calorie-burning benefit you would otherwise have gotten from the workout and the coffee. Also worth keeping in mind is that some sports drinks contain caffeine on top of their fluid and electrolyte content, so be mindful of that. Finally, listen to your body. Everyone reacts to caffeine differently, and has different thresholds for what counts as too much caffeine. If you're doing cardio, or if you have heart issues, be mindful of your coffee intake around the time of your workout. If you're not sure, consulting with your doctor is never a bad idea. *After their coffee. They tend not to be nearly as happy beforehand.