Have you heard the buzz over caffeine’s ability to affect your workout performance?
Studies suggest that having a cup or two of coffee, tea or cola before exercise can reduce perceived exertion, as well as help muscles recover more quickly after a sweat session. But before you buy stock in Starbucks or drink an entire pot pre-run, there are a few things to consider on your quest for a java-fueled jolt:
1. Take Duration Into Consideration
Most reports suggest that caffeine should be consumed about 45 minutes to an hour before activity in order to experience maximum effects, but since it’s absorbed quickly and lasts for hours, the exact timing won’t make or break your performance. In general, however, expect that any pre-workout boost may help postpone fatigue and provide that extra kick needed to cross the finish line for events lasting two hours or less.
2. Experiment With the Amount
An Australian study found that runners who took 95 milligrams of caffeine (equivalent to that in a cup of coffee) improved their 5K running time by an average of 10-12 seconds.While the average American’s caffeine intake is about 200 mg/day, athletes are encouraged to aim for three to six mg per kilogram of body weight, or somewhere between 210-400 mg of caffeine for a 150-pound person, for enhanced performance with minimal side effects.
4. Don’t Use It As a Crutch
If you’re relying on caffeine as an energy booster because you’re dog-tired during workouts, get to the root of what’s really causing fatigue. Are you not getting enough sleep? Are you overexercising? Or perhaps you’re not getting enough quality nutrition? Either way, something’s out of whack, so get to the bottom of it in order to make progress — and see results.
4. Keep It Clean, People
Just because you’re cleared for a cup (or two) of coffee before your workout doesn’t mean you need a triple-grande-whipped-cream-caramel-sugar-bomb to get going. Instead, create your own concoction with almond milk and cinnamon instead of processed creamers, or whip coffee or tea into your morning fruit smoothie for a more nutrient-rich start to your day.
Finally, it’s also worth mentioning a quick disclaimer: While caffeine is a widely recognized as a safe substance, it tends to affect people differently (e.g. may make you feel jittery, have a slight diuretic effect, etc.), so hydrate with plenty of water, and err on the side of caution by consulting with your doctor before adding anything into your training regimen.