Contrary to much of the mainstream advice which tends to focus on caffeine’s ability to raise blood pressure and increase the risk of heart attack, coffee has plenty of functional, scientifically proven benefits, and some of those can be very useful for athletes and regular gym-goers. As long as you take it without cream and sugar, coffee can provide you with more than a mild energy boost.
One study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that athletes who took in caffeine before exercising were able to burn 15% more calories than those who were given a placebo, while other studies have shown that drinking a cup of black coffee before working out can increase your metabolism by up to 20%.
To put things into better perspective, here are 5 precise reasons why drinking coffee can help you trim your waistline and build new slabs of lean muscle:
#1. Greater fat loss
The fat burning properties of drinking coffee before your workout are well documented by many contemporary studies. As you already know, glycogen is the principal fuel for the muscles. When glycogen gets depleted, the workout is over. However, fat is another abundant source of fuel that can replace the role of glycogen during exercise, and that’s where coffee comes in. Caffeine can improve the body’s ability to mobilize fat stores and stimulate working muscles to use fat cells as fuel instead of glycogen, while also causing a strong metabolic boost. The end result is burning a superior amount of fat all throughout the day. In addition, since coffee acts as an appetite suppressant, drinking it regularly will help you curb cravings and follow your caloric restrictions more easily.
#2. Improved micro-circulation
Another way in which drinking coffee can give you an extra edge during a hard gym session is by improving blood circulation. A recent Japanese study studied the effects of coffee on blood circulation in people who weren’t regular coffee drinkers and found that they experienced a 30% greater boost in capillary blood flow over a 75-minute period after drinking five ounces of coffee, compared to those who were given a decaffeinated variant. And the better the circulation, the more oxygen gets delivered into your muscles. The more oxygen, the better the performance!
#3. Increases performance
Research suggests that moderate caffeine consumption before working out can increase endurance during exercise, helping athletes burst through plateaus and strengthen their overall performance. As we mentioned above, caffeine slows glycogen depletion by encouraging the muscles to utilize fat as fuel, thereby conserving energy and allowing a prolongation of exercise. In addition, it has been shown to enhance muscle contractions and contribute to creating a better ‘pump’. Finally, since ingesting caffeine is also known to help reduce exhaustion and pain, taking some before you hit the gym can help you get the most out of your gym session.
#4. Muscle preservation
Caffeine impacts the primary motor cortex found in the frontal lobe, which is a part of the brain responsible for muscle activation. One animal study from Coventry University showed that caffeine helps reduce the loss of muscle strength that naturally accompanies the process of aging, which led the researchers to the conclusion that when taken in moderation, caffeine could help preserve overall fitness in older people. Ori Hofmekler, who has extensively studied the benefits of coffee, explains that coffee triggers a mechanism in the brain that releases a growth factor known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which enhances the neuromotor activation in muscles, thereby preserving and rejuvenating muscle tissues.
#5. Decreased muscle pain and soreness
Scientists at the University of Illinois found that consuming two or three cups of black coffee before a 30-minute bout of high-intensity exercise can help reduce muscle pain, allowing athletes to push a bit harder and reap more benefits from workouts. These findings were confirmed by the findings of another study from the University of Georgia, published in The Journal of Pain, which found that consuming two cups of plain coffee an hour before training can reduce post-workout muscle soreness by staggering 48%. Caffeine also seems to work better at minimizing muscle soreness than most commonly used drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen.
Although certain health risks have been linked to drinking large amounts of black coffee, rest assured that you can safely drink a cup of coffee before every workout and get amazing muscle building benefits!