Originally from Clonakilty, Colin Murphy is a fitness professional, workout specialist, founder of the fitness website properlybuilt.com, certified personal trainer, author and blogger. He is an Ironman, sub 3-hour marathon runner, occasional CrossFitter and all-round fitness fanatic.
Millions of people worldwide sip coffee every morning to kick start their day, but can we also use it to help us charge through those gym doors and knock out an excellent workout?
It’s not so much the coffee that we are interested in, but the caffeine. Thankfully this caffeine comes nicely wrapped up in coffee! Caffeine is the most widely used stimulant in the world with the average person drinking two cups of coffee a day. It has become a type of social glue that draws humans together. People drive with it, work with it, talk with it, and now perhaps even train with it.
Many studies have been done on the effects of caffeine on exercise performance and it has been found to have numerous benefits. Here we take a look at five benefits that will help you get the most from the time you spend working out.
1. Distraction Buster
Coffee is a stimulant that increases your heart rate and blood pressure and makes you more alert. Studies have shown that it affects both memory and focus, which are two attributes that can definitely help you in the gym. Some coffee, like Kimera Koffee, (available at www.properlybuilt.com) now have cognitive enhancers called nootropics in them. For those of us who, at times, catch ourselves aimlessly staring at one of the gym TVs, or are not quite sure what number set or rep we are on, then a cup of coffee may help. It could be the difference between a fast focused session or a dreamy halfhearted one.
2. Calorie Burner
A study by the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that there was a 15 per cent increase in calories burned for three hours post exercise after drinking approximately two cups of coffee before a sixty-minute workout. Caffeine stays in your system for hours after ingesting it, which allows it to get to work for you in the changing room and on the drive home. Whatever stage you are at in your fitness plan, knowing that you have some extra calorie burning help after your workout, is a wonderful bonus!
3. Reduced Pain Perception
Feeling a little uncomfortable by increasing the intensity during our workout sessions is not something we enjoy putting ourselves through. However, deep down we know that it is an essential element for improving our performance. Caffeine has been shown to help us through these moments by changing our perception of how we are feeling during intense exercise and dulling the sensation of burning muscles. This may be during an increase in the pace of a running interval, or squeezing out your final reps of a squat or deadlift. If it doesn’t feel so uncomfortable then there is a better chance that we will push ourselves more, which in turn, gives us greater results.
Having a hot cup of coffee may not be the first thing you think about as you fight to cool down after an intense session. However, studies have shown that drinking a cup of coffee after exercise can help your muscles refuel for your next workout. From the moment your workout finishes, and for up to thirty minutes after, can be seen as your window of opportunity to replace your muscle’s energy (glycogen) in preparation for your next workout. Within this window of opportunity, it is vital that you ingest some carbohydrates. If these carbohydrates are mixed with some caffeine, an American Physiological Society study showed that exercisers had 66% more glycogen in their muscles four hours later. If you are planning a tough workout or competition the following day, then take some cold coffee with you or grab one on your way home.
Sometimes all we need is a little nudge in the right direction. It’s easy to make a coffee (or even buy one), but this small act can trigger a process in our minds that can start our momentum towards exercising. You know that once you have this coffee it’s go time! It can become your call to action and give you the push you need to get you to take that first step on a day you have low motivation and drive.
Very few people like their coffee in exactly the same way and it now comes in almost endless varieties. Our goal when mixing coffee with exercise is to improve our performance. Try not to drink endless cups every day, as its effects will diminish quickly, as your body gets used to functioning with caffeine in its system. Also avoid accessorising! Lots of sugar, cream or flavouring should be left for another occasion, to reduce the caloric impact of such choices. Finally, be sure to experiment with coffee so you understand how much your stomach can handle. Frantically searching for a thick leafed bush, while out running is never fun!
Used strategically, coffee can work well as a performance aid. It works best on people who are not regular or big coffee drinkers so this may be just the excuse you need to cut back. Not only will it save you quite a bit, it will also work for you when you need it most.
www.properlybuilt.com or connect with me at Colin@properlybuilt.com for any fitness questions or advice.