Your Daily Cup of Coffee May Just Make You a Better Athlete

We all need a little jump start from time to time when exercise starts feeling like a chore. And when it comes to coffee for athletes, conflicting reports may end up confusing instead of helping. Good news though: What we found is that incorporating caffeine into your exercise regimen can potentially improve your enjoyment, performance, and even help you to recover better from your workout – if it’s consumed during specific periods of time, in ideal quantities.

It’s well known that professional athletes use caffeine as an energy boost, more typically consumed via energy gels and drinks. Some may even enjoy a cuppa before their workout or sporting event to intensify their training. If the experts are doing it, there must be something there, right?

Here are some benefits from coffee that can improve your exercise performance

Drinking coffee before a workout can make it feel more enjoyable. Photo from Bruce Mars

1. Coffee provides an effective mental and physiological boost

Ever started the day with low energy and the thought of working out makes you want to crawl back into bed? Before you do that, get up and brew that fresh cup of coffee.

Caffeine is a good source of energy when taken in right amounts. A natural chemical compound found in coffee plants, caffeine can block adenosine (the chemical in your body that is related to tiredness and fatigue), thus getting your brain activity and heart rate up so you feel energetic.

A study by the American Physiological Society indicates that consumption of caffeine also leads to exercise being perceived as less difficult and more enjoyable. Not only does it help you get up and enjoy your workout, but it also stimulates your brain, giving you the additional mental clarity and focus you need during your training. It activates the motor cortex, allowing you to react more quickly on both a mental and physical level.

Caffeine can improve peak power output, speed, and strength. Photo from Edgar Chaparro

2. Coffee is beneficial for strength and endurance

Endurance is what keeps you going when you feel like giving up during your strenuous workouts. Wouldn’t it be great to have a helping hand in the journey to becoming a stronger and fitter you?

Research has shown that more than two-thirds of Olympic athletes take caffeine to improve their endurance running. Men’s Health cited studies that have shown a 5% improvement in timing for endurance athletes. But you don’t need to be a professional athlete to gain such effects. Recreational runners were also observed to have improved performance in running.

Lastly, coffee is a known ergogenic aid that has meaningful benefits for strength training. According to research, caffeine has significant positive effects on how its participants perform in muscular strengthening exercises.

3. Coffee helps to increase your metabolic rate

Try a caffeinated pre-workout beverage for an added performance boost on your next run. Photo from Filip Mroz

Uncovering the effects of caffeine comes with another useful discovery – consuming caffeine helps to increase your metabolic rate, rendering your pursuit of achieving a fit body more effective with a higher caloric burn rate. It also improves fat oxidation by breaking down stored fat tissues, getting you much closer to your weight management goals.

4. Coffee helps with muscle aches

Are you a victim of DOMS (delayed-onset muscle soreness) after sweating it out at the gym? Don’t worry, coffee takes care of that too. It is speculated that by blocking adenosine, caffeine helps to lessen your perception to muscular pain during your workout as well as ease the stiffness and pain associated with DOMS.

Other than its pain-relieving properties, it enables your muscles to recover more efficiently. According to the Journal of Applied Physiology, athletes that consumed caffeine and carbohydrates after a strenuous exercise had 66% more glycogen in their muscles versus athletes who only ingested carbohydrates alone post workout. Glycogen is the fuel that muscles use to function and by increasing glycogen levels after a hard workout, you can recover faster and perform better during the following day’s workout.

What’s the Magic Amount?

So you must be wondering, how much caffeine should you consume to reap from these benefits that coffee can bring? A moderate level of consumption is all you need.

For reference, the suggested caffeine dosage is estimated at 3–6 mg per kg which is about 200–400 mg depending on your body weight. A 6 oz cup of Robusta filter drip coffee contains about 200 mg of caffeine (vs Arabica at 110mg per 6oz cup). Start low, at 150–200 mg, to assess your tolerance and gradually increase to assess the optimum level for your performance.

For exploring coffee profiles, check out JJ Royal Coffee’s selection of Indonesia’s supreme mountain coffee. (The specialty Robusta in our Sumatra Classic will give you that needed boost for your exercise needs.) Paired with De’Longhi’s Prima Donna coffee machine, you’ll get the perfect cup every morning.