Can Coffee Help You Crush Your Workouts?

a group of bowls of food

If you’re like most Americans, your day doesn’t really begin before you’ve had your first cup of coffee. In fact, 34 percent of java-lovers prioritize making their morning brew before they do anything else. And nearly half of all coffee drinkers would rather nix their shower, give up their cell phone, or gain 10 pounds before they’d go without their caffeine fix. Considering that 64% of Americans say they drink at least one cup of joe per day and 44 percent say they drink two to three cups of hot stuff daily, it’s no surprise that the coffee industry is buzzing.

For many, caffeine acts as the fuel required to get moving and get everything done. Just like SeQuential biodiesel can power a car or a truck more efficiently, a good cup of coffee can help you power through your day with ease. It wakes us up, improves our productivity, and allows us to feel ready to take on any challenge. So fitness friends want to know: can a latte or a cold brew help you crush your workouts, too?

The Connection Between Exercise and Caffeine

The US Department of Health and Human Services reports that less than 5 percent of adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day, and only one-third of adults receive the recommended amount of physical activity every week. But that doesn’t mean that we’re not working out at all. Compared to other countries, the US isn’t anywhere near the most inactive. Plus, we spend around $10 billion a year on the fitness equipment. For us, the most popular workout routines include walking, jogging, and running on the treadmill.

Still, even the most active Americans could probably use a way to boost their fitness levels. And for some, the solution may lie in our favorite hot beverage.

According to one study, caffeine consumption has been shown to increase speed and power output in racing conditions. It’s also been suggested that ingesting caffeine could also allow athletes to train longer and at a higher power output. Some data has found that consuming caffeine can provide resistance to fatigue and improve endurance.

Other research has found that pure caffeine can help soccer players sprint more frequently and over longer distances, allow basketball players to jump higher, improve accuracy for tennis players, and increase the amount of weight that lifters can manage. Some sources suggest that because coffee has a high amount of caffeine, drinking a cup prior to a workout can help us to burn more fat and can boost our metabolic rate. Since caffeine can also improve brain function, some researchers suggest that drinking it prior to exercising can help us maintain focus and make workouts even more effective.

There’s even evidence to suggest that drinking coffee can allow your body to recover from physical activity. A study conducted by the University of Illinois found that drinking caffeinated coffee after a workout can reduce muscle soreness, while other research found that drinking two cups of coffee can reduce muscle soreness derived from exercise by nearly 50 percent. So not only will coffee help you go harder and faster when you exercise, but it can also help you feel better afterward.

Of course, it’s important not to go overboard. If you aren’t accustomed to drinking caffeine regularly, you may become jittery or start to feel unwell if you try to down too many espressos before you hit the gym. It’s good to start small, experts say, if you want to try using caffeine to improve your workout routine. There’s also some evidence to suggest that your reaction to caffeine (as well as its ability to better your fitness regimen) may be rooted in your genetics.

Generally speaking, however, you don’t need to shy away from drinking a cup of whole bean coffee before you get on the treadmill. On the contrary, a little caffeine could help you make some big gains towards your fitness goals. You might even end up looking forward to your daily workout if you can reward yourself with some café noir.

More in Nutrition