Coffee and exercise pretty much go to together like Netflix and chill or Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. They’re good on their own, but they serve up a little something extra when they’re together.
Here’s what to know pairing the two.
Can you drink coffee before a workout?
Definitely. Studies back the idea that 1 to 2 cups of joe can give your workout a major boost. Just try to use it in moderation.
There’s a lot of research on the side effects that can come along with too much caffeine. To play it safe, stick to 3 to 6 milligrams for every kilogram of your body mass. (For most people, that means about 2 to 4 cups of coffee.)
Studies show that a little caffeine can give your workout a boost. Here’s how it works.
1. Improves your speed
Olympic runners, swimmers, and cyclers may need only a 1 percent boost in their average speed to affect their metal ranking.
Could caffeine switch up that podium placement? Maybe. In a 2017 analysis of several studies, scientists found that caffeine significantly improves speed in workouts that last 45 seconds to 8 minutes.
You don’t have to be an Olympian to reap the benefits, though. If you’re looking to beat your own PR, caffeine just might help.
According to a 2020 study, caffeine supplements also have a major impact on speed for resistance exercises (think push-ups, sit-ups, or squats).
While caffeine supplements aren’t exactly the same thing as drinking coffee, they do have similar effects on your bod.
So, if you want to whip through your strength training exercises faster than usual, you may want to add a little latte to your routine.
2. Boosts your strength
You might want to sip some espresso before you lift weights or shoot some hoops.
A 2018 review suggests that consuming caffeine can support your max muscle strength and upper body and muscle power. According to researchers, caffeine improved athletes’ vertical jump height and boosted powerlifters’ performance.
Since most of these studies were conducted on men, though, the authors noted that more research may be needed to understand how caffeine affects female athletes.
3. Reduces anaerobic exhaustion
A 2018 study suggests that having caffeine before working out can keep you from reaching exhaustion longer during anaerobic activity (think HIIT, jump squats, or sprinting.)
In the study, researchers found major improvements in participants who took a certain cycling test with caffeine when compared to peeps who had a placebo.
So whether you’re tackling your box jump challenge #goals or swimming laps, some coffee may help you last a little longer.
4. Increases aerobic power
Your daily jog, walk, or hike prob loves your coffee habit. According to 2021 research, aerobic endurance seems to benefit the most from caffeine. But it doesn’t work for everyone.
In particular, cycling, running, cross-country skiing, and swimming all seem to get the biggest boost from a little caffeine buzz.
5. Reduces muscle pain
Sore muscles, rejoice. A small study from 2013 found that having caffeine before a workout may reduce muscle pain and stiffness.
Bonus: Peeps who had caffeine before their workout also completed more reps of bicep curls per set.
Before you start downing Caffe Americanos before CrossFit, though, keep in mind that only nine men were observed in this study. More research is needed before you can draw any sweeping conclusions.
Pre-workout and coffee
While caffeine has shown some benefits for boosting your workout, you don’t want to overdo it. Pre-workout supplements tend to have around 91 to 387 milligrams (mg) of caffeine per serving. The typical cup of coffee has about 100 mg per serving.
That means that between coffee and pre-workout, the caffeine content can add up quickly. The FDA says 400 mg or less of caffeine isn’t linked to side effects, but how you’ll react depends on your sensitivity.
Your genetics can play a role in how you’ll respond to having caffeine before you exercise. What might work well for some folks might not work for you and that’s okay.
So, when should you whip out the French Press? Whether you like it iced, hot, or mixed with milk, research shows you should have coffee about 60 mins before exercise to get all the best benefits.
The best time for you will depend on what time of day you like to hit the gym (or the great outdoors.)
If you’re an early bird
Sipping some java about an hour before you work out in the morning is a great way to start your day.
If you’re not a morning person, an afternoon sweat sesh works well, too. Just try not to drink too much coffee per day if you want to avoid potential negative side effects like anxiety, bladder irritation, and headaches.
If you’re a night owl
It’s probably best to skip the caffeine if you love to work out in the evening. Having caffeine 6 hours or less before you go to bed can disrupt your sleep.
The workout boost prob isn’t worth sabotaging your precious Zzz’s. Getting enough rest is important for your overall health and for building those muscles you worked so hard on.
So, what should you pair with your cup of pre-workout coffee? Here are some energizing ideas to try:
- Banana and peanut butter. A 2018 review found that nomming on a nanner about 30 to 60 mins before you hit the gym can help you hit your peak workout performance. The PB (or some almond butter) can provide a little protein.
- Egg and avocado toast. Enjoy a classic avocado toast recipe with an egg (hardboiled, fried, poached, or any way you like best). It’s a great source of pre-workout protein, carbs, and healthy fats. Avocados are full of potassium that can pump up your workout.
- Hummus and carrots. Protein plus healthy carbs is a pre-workout match made in heaven. In addition to being a protein powerhouse, the chickpeas in hummus are packed with dietary fiber, and vitamins and minerals (like calcium, magnesium, and potassium.)
- Berry fruit and yogurt granola parfait. Mix some Greek (or dairy-free) yogurt together with some granola and berries for the perfect pre-workout snack. Packed with calcium, dietary fiber, and antioxidants, this will give you the fuel you need to hit every move in your HIIT class.
Lots of studies suggest that coffee can give your workout a boost if you drink it about an hour before you hit the gym. Just don’t overdo it. Try not to have more than 2 to 4 cups (depending on your body weight.) You def don’t want the shakes before you lift weights!