Coffee has been used in the early morning for centuries now. But can this black ingredient be used as a natural alternative to your pre-workout?
Let’s find out.
Coffee is probably the closest thing to magic on earth. Just one cup of coffee provides you with a lot of health benefits. It helps protect peepers from harmful glaucoma, decreases your risk of developing cancers and can even increase your life span. Additionally, it can help you in the gym.
While your gym trainer may suggest you hordes of supplements for pre-workout, the same benefit can be ripened with a cup of coffee.
Here is how your body reacts to coffee.
After 10 minutes:
Caffeine takes as low as 10 minutes to enter your bloodstream. Here you may experience an increase in heart rate and blood pressure.
After 20 minutes:
Now the caffeine floods your body with adrenaline. It helps you in thinking faster and making better decisions. Here your emotions can suppress rational behavior. You may also feel happier on chemical levels because it increases the dopamine content in your brain.
After 30 minutes:
For a short period of time, your vision improves. Raw coffee contains CLA or chlorogenic acid that has an anti-ageing effect on your eyes.
After 40 minutes:
Now your body is at its peak of caffeine content. Caffeine makes your fat cells work as a powerhouse which can make you feel stronger and full of energy.
After 4 hours:
After about 4 hours of consuming that coffee, your body starts getting normal.
Why Coffee as a pre-workout?
Coffee is a great natural source of antioxidants. It is also low in calories as compared to other sports drink in the market. Coffee is devoid of any fat or sugar. Instead, it is filled with a modest amount of vitamin B, potassium, pantothenic acid and magnesium.
Coffee has a high amount of caffeine. It can boost athletic performance. It can help you in any form of exercise, intense short term, endurance training, or weight lifting.
Caffeine also increases fat burning, alertness and exercise performance.
When to take coffee?
If you want to use coffee for bodybuilding, you simply can’t depend on that morning sip. You have to time your dosage.
As soon as you take your first sip of coffee, you may feel energized and alert, but that does not mean it has been digested by your body. The half-life of caffeine (time taken by your body to digest half of the caffeine) is about five to six hours. So you will be able to experience the full potential of it after about five to six hours.
If you want to hit the gym when the caffeine boost is at its peak, you should consider taking it about 45 minutes before the workout.
Studies have shown that the caffeine content in your body is at its maximum after 45 minutes of consuming it. At this time you have caffeine running through your blood. So if you take coffee 45 minutes before a workout, then you get a head start even before you have started.
You must know that the concentration of caffeine in the coffee does not affect its peak time. Whether you are taking a cup of Starbucks, or high concentration brands like Death Wish and Caffeine & Kilos, you will reach your peak time after 45 minutes.
What are the benefits of drinking coffee before a workout?
- Increased performance: Whether you are going through intense training, endurance training or weight lifting, caffeine will help you. It can help you long faster and for a larger duration. It can help you train at better power output and/or train for a longer period of time.
- Accelerated fat loss: Coffee has a lot of fat-burning properties. If you consume coffee before hitting the gym, it can cause your fat cells to work as a powerhouse instead of glycogen. It can also increase your metabolism which in turn helps you burn your calories better and faster.
- Improved focus: Black coffee is good for your mental health. It helps you increase focus and memory. It helps you in better mind-muscle coordination.
- Enhances mood: Coffee can also help you enhance your mood by directing your central nervous system. It can help you be attentive, away from depression and more focused. All these benefits together make your workout a more pleasurable experience.
- Decrease muscle soreness: Studies conducted by the University of Georgia found that a moderate dose of caffeine can reduce muscle soreness by up to 48 per cent. This can also be confirmed by the fact that caffeine is the main ingredient in most pain relievers.
- Healthy: Coffee is rich in antioxidants and can help you in the prevention of certain cancers like Alzheimer’s disease. So it not just helps you in the gym, but also helps you lead a healthy life outside the gym.
If you hit the gym during daytime
Timing your coffee is very vital if you intend to use it as a pre-workout. Caffeine is absorbed by your body quickly in about 15 to 20 minutes, but it takes about 30 to 75 minutes for it to reach its peak. You should try drinking coffee about 45 minutes to 1 hour before hitting the gym.
Mix your coffee with some water or milk. It will help you to digest it better.
Just keep in mind that too much caffeine is not good for your health. It may have a laxative effect. It can even lead to dehydration.
You can observe the color of your urine to ascertain how much coffee you are consuming. The deeper its color, the more dehydrated you are.
I would suggest milk coffee over black coffee. Milk will provide you with an extra dosage of protein and carbohydrates that will be more helpful for you in the gym.
If you hit the gym in the night
Bad news for you guys. If you hit the gym in the afternoon or at night, unfortunately, you will have to miss the astounding benefits of coffee.
Coffee has a half-life of about 5 to 6 hours. That means it will remain in your system for so long. It can have some harsh effect on your body. You may find it difficult to sleep because of its anti-sleeping effects.
There are many factors that come into play when it comes to digesting caffeine. Your body weight, genetic makeup and age all contribute to how enzymes in your body react to caffeine.
Never ever sacrifice your sleep for a caffeine dose. Remember that your body needs proper rest to recover from that hard workout schedule. You need proper sleep so that your body can recover from the wear and tear of the muscles.
What type of coffee should you consume?
There is no XYZ type of coffee that can be recommended. It all depends on how your body reacts to the coffee. I would suggest that you should try different types of coffee before settling for the best one. This way you will find out what suits you the best.
How much caffeine should you consume in a day?
Researchers have shown that you will have to swallow 130 cans of Red Bull to feel any hazardous effect of caffeine.
However, I would suggest that 300mg is enough for you. More than this can make you feel nauseous and lightheaded.
Black coffee vs Milk coffee
A lot of people can’t figure out whether they should go for black coffee or milk coffee before a workout.
Black coffee has a lower calorie count than milk coffee. A cup of black coffee will have only two calories, on the other hand, the calorie counts skyrockets if a person takes coffee with milk.
That being said, the taste of black coffee is not so good. In such a case, you may opt-out for milk coffee.
So the answer lies in what you find helpful and tasty.
Disadvantages of coffee as a pre-workout
- Can have an effect on your adrenal glands: Adrenal glands secrete adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline is responsible for fight-or-flight response while cortisol is a stress hormone. These are very important hormones that allow you to react better to everyday circumstances. It can help you in deciding whether to push harder in the gym or to run faster. With too much caffeine, your adrenal burns out. It can barely produce those two hormones effectively. This can affect your performance in the gym.
- Can lead to gastrointestinal discomfort: If you drink coffee early in the morning on an empty stomach, it can lead to gastrointestinal discomfort. Coffee on an empty stomach increases the production of hydrochloric acid, which in turn leads to this discomfort.
So we find that there are both advantages and disadvantage of drinking coffee as a pre-workout. But according to me, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. All the disadvantages can be avoided by limiting the dosage of coffee. It is also recommended to drink water in the morning and then you can go for coffee.