Exercise Fueled by Coffee?

August 13, 2020

Everyone knows caffeine is supposed to be bad for you. You hear it all the time and from a lot of different people. So why would you want to use caffeine in conjunction with your exercise program? Before you double down to dismiss the notion of caffeine as an exercise aid, consider that caffeine is one of the methyl derivatives of xanthine. Xanthines occur naturally in more than 60 plants and caffeine is the most potent of these and is found in coffee, tea, chocolate, many soft drinks and diet aids. But, and this is a big but, how you use it is very important in whether you’ll get maximum performance benefits from it. Here are the findings of a few studies:

  1. Explosive athletes who do short-duration sports such as power-lifting, sprints, etc. do not appear to benefit from caffeine use.
  2. Endurance athletes such as long-distance cyclists, runners, swimmers, etc. can improve their performance with caffeine use.
  3. Reaction time can be improved with caffeine use.
  4. An athlete who uses caffeine after abstaining from it for several days sees improved performance.
  5. Fat loss with exercise is increased when caffeine is taken prior to exercise.
  6. Caffeine intake results in increased alertness, reduced drowsiness and a reduced perception of fatigue.

With the above in mind, it would seem beneficial to use caffeine before exercise (without the extra calories from cream and sugar). Now, something to point out here is that there are those who do not respond well to caffeine. About 20% of the population will exhibit adverse effects to caffeine such as cardiac arrhythmias, excessive urination, insomnia, withdrawal headaches and a type of anxiety called “caffeinism”. If you’re in the 20% who experience any of these effects from caffeine use, don’t use it! The benefits you get from it are not worth the side effects.

The bottom line on using caffeine to help you perform better during exercise is, yes, it does have its benefits, but, it should be used wisely and only you can determine whether or not it’s helping your exercise performance and if it’s right for you.

Remember to always consult your doctor for guidance. The information provided in this article presents results of empirical studies, but is not intended to be medical advice.

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