Your Morning Cup of Joe – Does It Help or Harm Your Fitness Efforts? By Stacy Geant Hughes



These cool October mornings call for a steaming cup of coffee, but do you drink it before or after your workout? I’m training for a fundraising bike ride in early October and I always have coffee before I ride, mostly out of habit. My co-riders can’t believe I’d want coffee before I exercise. The data, however, suggests I might actually be on to something.


Burn calories while you binge Netflix: Resting metabolic rate (RMR) is the rate at rest during which you burn calories. The National Institute of Health published a study showing that caffeine consumption before exercise can increase RMR between 3 and 11%! Another study found that caffeine consumption increased oxidation of fat, or conversion of fat into energy and many studies have linked increased fat oxidation to better overall health.


Less pain more gain: Former competitive cyclist and professor of Kinesiology and Community Health at University of Illinois, Robert Motl, has studied the effect of caffeine on pain in athletic performance for years. His research all supports that notion that “caffeine reduces pain reliably, consistently, during cycling, across different people, different characteristics.”


Work harder and finish faster In a study published by the British Journal of Sports Science, participants who had 3g (one level teaspoon) of caffeinated coffee before running 1500 meters on a treadmill finished their run 4.2 seconds faster on average than participants who had decaffeinated coffee as a placebo. A meta study done at the University of Luton in the UK offers a possible explanation; they concluded that improved exercise performance after drinking caffeine is at least partly due to lower perceived exertion in subjects who had caffeine before the exercise than those who had not.


Too much of a good thing? More than 4 cups of coffee may be too much, according to several sources. How would you know? Side effects of too much caffeine include migraine headache, insomnia, irritability and restlessness to name a few. So as the saying goes, everything in moderation…. except maybe your workouts which may be faster, better and less painful if you’re using caffeine as a pre-workout boost!


Stacy Geant Hughes, Owner of Core Value Pilates, LLC, Certified Pilates Instructor, Certified Pink Ribbon Program specializing in post breast cancer surgery

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