6 Ways Coffee Can Enhance Your Athletic Performance

Active adults and athletes want to enhance athletic performance with stimulants but without potential adverse effects that can come from unregulated supplements. Coffee contains caffeine, a natural stimulant indicated to be a safe alternative to improve our workouts. In fact, black coffee has become one of the most popular and effective pre-workout drinks according to research. 


Coffee Is an Effective Pre-Workout Drink


Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Look no further than your pantry or local coffee shop for an all natural stimulant and effective pre-workout drink. Studies have shown coffee enhances our athletic performance along with other health benefits.

No need to rush to a supplement store for expensive packaged powders or pills promising to burn fat faster. Firing up the coffee pot and enjoying a warm cup of Joe, minus the cream and sugar may be all you need to boost that workout.

High levels of caffeine in a cup of coffee are shown to significantly improve our ability to burn fat during exercise. We also consume fewer calories during the day because the compounds and caffeine in coffee suppress our appetite. 

The peak stimulant effect of coffee occurs 30 to 60 minutes after drinking a cup. Once caffeine enters our bloodstream, several responses begin to occur in our body. Blood pressure and heart rate increase, fat stores are broken down, and fatty acids are released into the bloodstream. We typically feel energetic and ready for a great workout.   


Coffee Boosts Metabolism

Coffee contains caffeine, a stimulant shown to enhance our metabolic rate. Metabolic rate refers to the rate our body uses or burns energy throughout the day. In a study utilizing four different trials, the group consuming coffee showed a significant increase in metabolic rate during and continuing for three hours after caffeine ingestion. 

The participants drinking coffee also showed a significant increase in fat oxidation (burning) as a result of increased metabolism. This means coffee provides more effective fat burning during a workout and for several hours following exercise. Research suggests consuming one to no more than two cups of coffee one hour prior to training have the best effect.

The body reacts to coffee and caffeine just like any other drug. Habitual large dose use is shown to be counterproductive according to chronic studies. In this case, more is not better and it takes a small amount to achieve great results.

Those with medical conditions like hypertension, caffeine sensitive, or who are pregnant should not drink coffee without having a discussion with their physician. 


Coffee Enhances Athletic Performance

Drinking coffee has been linked to improved athletic performance. According to an article published in the International Society of Sports Nutrition, “caffeine is effective for enhancing various types of performance when consumed in low-to-moderate doses.”

Another finding published in Sports Medicine indicated caffeine enables an athlete to train longer and with greater power output. Caffeine was also shown to improve endurance levels and resistance to fatigue. 

Endurance athletes appear to greatly benefit from consuming caffeine found in coffee. Research indicates coffee stimulates our body to utilize fat stores as fuel during long workouts. Instead of ​utilizing muscle glycogen (sugar) during exercise, there appears to be a shift to fat stores allowing for prolonged use of working muscles.

Other studies on the rate of perceived exertion (RPE) and athletes consuming coffee indicated a more positive exercise experience. RPE is a scale rating of how hard exercise feels to a participant while being physically active. RPE study results indicate athletes consuming coffee before exercise felt less fatigue and easier effort during the workout session.  

Drinking coffee at least one hour to no less than 30 minutes prior to exercise seems to provide the best results. It appears more is not better when it comes to caffeine intake.

Consult your physician prior to drinking coffee if you suffer from medical conditions like hypertension. Coffee drinkers may find that a simple change of consuming coffee prior to working out will feel a significant difference in performance ability.


Better Concentration During Workouts

Coffee and caffeine have been shown to improve mental focus. Caffeine is a natural stimulant indicated to stimulate the central nervous system (CNS) and improve brain function. Other research indicates caffeine has a positive impact on the areas of the brain responsible for memory and concentration. When thinking is sharp, it helps your workout become more productive and effective.

According to an article appearing in Harvard Health Publications, coffee and caffeine can provide increased energy and potentially improve mental performance. It was also suggested that coffee can reduce the progression of age-related mental decline. 

Other research examined the effects of caffeine intake on the prefrontal lobe of the brain. This area of the brain is specific to attention span, planning, and concentration. Results determined caffeine to increase the activity of the prefrontal lobe and improve brain function in this area. Although caffeine increased brain activity, it appears to vary per individual and further research is required to narrow this finding.  

Another study measured the cognitive effects of caffeine on athletes. Those athletes consuming caffeine prior to intense fitness training showed improved concentration with the ability to sustain high levels of exercise intensity. These results also included athletes without sufficient sleep. 

Research indicates consuming no more than two cups of black coffee per day will accomplish great results.

It's important to consult your physician prior to drinking coffee if you suffer from medical conditions like hypertension. 


Coffee Reduces Muscle Pain

Coffee and caffeine have been shown to reduce exercise-induced muscle pain. According to research published by the University of Illinoisstudy participants drinking caffeinated coffee experienced less muscle soreness during and after their workouts. Other research indicates drinking two cups of coffee can reduce post-workout muscle soreness by almost 50 percent. This is a significant improvement for active adults concerned about delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) after an intense workout. 

According to an article published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning, caffeine significantly reduced post-workout muscle soreness compared to a placebo. The participants drinking coffee prior to upper body weight training were also able to complete more repetitions on their final set. Results indicated consuming caffeine prior to intense training improves athletic performance and lessens the amount of time for muscle recovery. 

Drinking a cup of coffee prior to exercise may help those who tend to give up during a workout. Exercise can cause painful lactic acid build-up when the muscle is stressed. Some tend to stop working out because of this discomfort. Enough evidence has been provided to show coffee decreases muscle pain, improves energy output, and promotes a positive feeling about exercise. 

If you suffer from medical conditions like hypertension consult your physician prior to adding coffee to your menu.


Coffee Helps Fight Disease

Coffee contains powerful antioxidants shown to reduce our risk of disease. Antioxidants work by cleaning the blood, removing free radicals, and help the body fight disease and illness. According to research published in the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics“coffee provides one of the greatest sources of antioxidants in the American diet.” 

Coffee and caffeine health benefits have been linked to disease prevention. Studies have shown coffee to reduce inflammation, help Parkinson’s disease, and lower the incidence of certain cancers. It's also shown to lower the occurrence of gallstones.

Chronic studies indicate coffee may be beneficial to our health. It's advised to drink no more than two cups of black coffee per day for optimal benefits. It's a good idea to remain conservative and moderate coffee consumption. 

Consult your physician if you experience rapid heartbeat, palpitations, or any other symptoms of caffeine overload. The same goes if you are hypertensive, pregnant, have diagnosed heart disease, or are nursing consult your doctor prior to drinking coffee.

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