We’ve recently been told drinking three to four cups of coffee per day could be good for our health, but some experts say caffeine before a workout could also help performance.
Speaking with Business Insider, 27-year-old personal trainer Max Lowery of The 2 Meal Day diet plan, says although he doesn’t drink coffee, he’ll have some type of caffeine before working out.
“Caffeine can also be used as a pain suppressant and so not only will you have more energy but you’ll be less sensitive to the pain from a workout,” he told the site.
Lowery added before working out, he would have a strong green tea or take a green tea extract 30 minutes before exercising. He also said black coffee would also work.
Coffee before a workout
Fitness expert Amanda Thebe of Fit & Chips, says drinking coffee prior to a workout can help.
“Caffeine is a stimulant that prevents the body slowing down, which means it can help boost your performance if kept within the workout window,” she tells Global News.
But this doesn’t mean more coffee is going to give you a better workout, in fact, Thebe says you should avoid over-consuming it.
“The problem with drinking too much caffeine is that is can cause diarrhea and upset the GI tract,” she continues. “It is also a potential diuretic, so it might have you rushing to the loo mid-workout with increased urgency.”
But why caffeine?
There have been several studies that have looked at the impact of caffeine on athletic performance. Live Science notes caffeine could be a “sports supplement” that can boost muscle power.
While another study from the Journal of Applied Physiology indicates caffeine before a workout could enable athletes to run, bike, or swim a little faster, the New York Times reports.
Thebe says caffeine in the athletic world is nothing new, and for the most part, it helps professionals work harder and last longer.
“Studies conflict on whether or not caffeine has true benefits on athletic performance, and this may be down to the size of the study group and also our own genetic metabolism. What impacts one person may not impact another the same way.”
Strength and conditioning coach Geoff Girvitz of Bang Fitness says although caffeine is one of the best-researched performance supplements in the athletic world, it doesn’t mean it is right for every individual.
“There’s no one-size-fits-all to caffeine. While many athletes benefit from consuming caffeine before training, there is no guarantee,” he tells Global News. “Just like having straight or curly hair, there are genetic differences behind how quickly your break down caffeine. That means the dosage required for these benefits can vary quite a bit.”
He says while most of us know how caffeine can react with our bodies, it could be useful to experiment during a workout.
“See what works for you in terms of stimulation levels. Your current coffee habits will probably be a great clue as to whether you tolerate a lot or a little,” he continues. “Next, adjust consumption based on how you’re feeling before training, as well as what kind of mental state will have you performing at your best.”
What to eat (and avoid) before a workout
And since nutrition plays a huge role in your performance, you should be eating healthy before and after workouts regardless, Thebe says.
“For a strength workout eating beforehand has to be something that doesn’t upset your guts and allows you to push through for those extra reps,” she continues. “If you are eating near your workout window, say 45 minutes before, ensure it is an easily digested protein with fast-acting carbohydrate like a banana protein shake.”