There was an 8-month period of time in 2020 and 2021 where I was living at my parent’s house in Los Angeles, not paying rent and capitalizing on things I could never afford while shelling out to my New York City landlord. One of the lavish things I miss from my California-staycation was the luxury of having a personal trainer to tell me how to fuel my body, how much water I should intake, how much sleep I should be getting, and what to do to train each muscle group in accordance with my goals.
It goes without saying that it was the most fit I have ever been. Now, over a year later, my excitement to leave the long-winded sheltering-in-place mandates has led to putting on more weight than I’d like to admit. With that, a motivation to get back to where I was, pre-pandemic. As I start to work out again, it’s very important to me that I do it properly, especially since hitting age 30, knowing that it gets harder to keep weight off as you age.
That being said, I am recalling heavy hitters I learned from my personal trainer. A stand out memory is his advocacy for a cup of coffee upon rising and before every workout. I tend to get a bit nauseous when I drink coffee before consuming food, so I never tried this tactic. But now that I am motivated, I began researching the benefits of coffee pre-workout and spoke to a couple people who do it and found out why. The below has totally convinced me into trying it out at least once. Have a read.
Yes, coffee pre-workout works
Largely thanks to its caffeine content, coffee is one of the most well-studied performance-enhancing aids that is legal in the sports world. Caffeine alone is a naturally occurring substance that will speed up the messages from your brain to body via the central nervous system — making you feel more energized and alert. Sipping a cup of joe before your physical activity can help boost sweat and improve your overall power in performance.
Experts also suggest that coffee speeds up your recovery post-workout. It’s said that after just 15 minutes of exercise your glucose (read: sugar) levels will drop, and the body will switch to glycogen (stored form of glucose) for energy — preventing you from exuding too much.
These benefits sound amazing, of course, but there is a small catch. You must consume 3 to 6 mg of caffeine per kg of bodyweight 60 minutes before you exercise. This usually boils down to 2 to 3 cups of coffee. As someone who has a cup of coffee every few days, this sounds like a lot to do in one sitting before my workout, but I digress.
With that being said, we should discuss the risks.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, caffeine is fine to consume everyday as long as you don’t go above 400 mg. And if you are an evening fitness person, consuming coffee pre-workout could significantly affect your sleep and slow your recovery. For those interested in trying it, by all means, don’t let us stop you.
But if you have your doubts, you can also try pre-workout supplements that have a blend of creatine, amino acids, and caffeine that provide similar benefits. However, because the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t monitor the safety or effectiveness of products before they get released to the market, this option should also be taken with a grain of salt. Both could equally bring your headaches, insomnia, dehydration, and restlessness.
Ultimately, you must decide what’s best for you, pre-workout coffee or supplement.
Photo via Jorge Gonzalez