Caffeine + exercise: A winning combo?

What science says about a cup (or two) of coffee before your workout

Woman warming up before training in the weight room.

Many people start the day with a coffee or two. Did you know that those caffeinated cups can affect your workouts?

Caffeine has been proven to boost performance in some ways – while being a health hindrance in others.

Learn more about caffeine’s role in exercise to take advantage of its benefits while avoiding its downfalls with advice from Sanford POWER.

Increased alertness

There’s a reason people most commonly have caffeine in the morning. It’s a stimulant and has been shown to improve physical strength and endurance, as well as alertness and wakefulness.

This also comes with a decrease in fatigue, meaning you’ll feel less tired and be more ready to focus on activity.

Longer performance

Taking caffeine significantly increases endurance exercise performance.

Time to exhaustion is a reliable measure of endurance. It times how long it takes for an athlete to feel exhausted at a given intensity. With caffeine, athletes can unlock a 1.2 to 1.4 times longer performance.

Learn more: Sports nutrition at Sanford POWER’s Performance Lab

Caffeine can also reduce your perception of effort, allowing you to do more mileage without feeling more tired.

Better power

The benefits don’t stop with aerobic exercise. Caffeine holds promise for weightlifters and those pursuing anaerobic activities.

One study on sprinters found that caffeine resulted in decreased race times. And power output – measured in one-rep max tests – increased with caffeine.

Less soreness

Caffeine has also been shown to reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) when taken before intense workouts.

Even if you exercise harder than usual at the gym, you’ll feel it less in the coming hours thanks to caffeine.

How much caffeine to take

According to most studies, you can get the benefits without side effects when taking 3 mg/kg of your body weight. For the average man and woman, this works out to around 260 and 210 mg respectively – about one medium or large coffee.

Regular use leads to an increase in your tolerance. That means your body gets used to the amount of caffeine you’ve been taking and doesn’t feel the effects as much. You may need to take breaks from caffeine to continue to reap the rewards.

And remember that more is not better. Too much caffeine can result in anxiousness, impaired sleep or even heart problems.

Be careful and start at a low dose to gauge your tolerance. Ask your doctor if it’s safe for you to use caffeine if you have existing health problems or experience any symptoms during use.

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Posted In Digestive Health, Healthy Living, Sanford Sports, Sports Medicine