Despite all the fancy and pricey pre-workout supplements on the market now, scientific studies show that the best “sports supplement” is not only FDA approved, it’s also the most affordable: coffee.
A large body of research shows that coffee has many health benefits (our own independent research shows that coffee keeps us from killing our loved ones first thing in the morning). But its fat-burning, performance-enhancing, mental alertness-improving and physical endurance-increasing properties can also help you kill your workouts.
Caffeine stimulates the release of fat into the bloodstream, allowing our bodies to burn fat as fuel instead of glycogen. As an added bonus, it also has a temporary appetite suppressant effect.
*Note – Many commercial caffeine and coffee drinks are loaded with sugar and fat, so knocking back a couple of Pumpkin Spice Lattes before hitting the gym is counterproductive. Stick to a cup of black coffee or with just a splash of milk of your choice and a little sweetener. Or, pehaps a protein-enhanced coffee-flavored shake.
A study in King’s College in London suggests that caffeine increases cognitive functioning in athletes by enhancing reaction times, mental processing, attention and reduced perception of fatigue. Since most sports and athletic skills are a mental game, this has a tremendous impact on physical performance. One of the theories is that caffeine changes the level of neurotransmitters in your brain so that the chemicals that normally make you feel tired are blocked or delayed.
REDUCES EXERCISE-INDUCED MUSCLE PAINS
A team of University of Georgia researchers discovered that moderate consumption of coffee (about two cups) before a workout, reduced muscle soreness, aka DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness), by 48%.
Caffeine works to block the body’s receptors for adenosine, a chemical that is produced in response to inflammation.
There’s a reason that caffeine is the world’s most popular performance enhancing drug. Not only is it legal, the research shows that caffeine helps in “pretty much every kind of endurance exercise, giving a performance advantage of 1.5 percent to 5 percent,” says Mark Glaister, an exercise physiologist at St. Mary’s University in Twickenham, U.K.,
So what’s going on? Caffeine releases the calcium stored in muscles, enabling them to contract harder and faster. That enables athletes to go longer or faster in a shorter amount of time.
That’s right! Yeah, we’ve all heard that coffee is a diuretic and dehydrating, blah blah blah. But recent studies have proven this to be an old wives tale. Researchers at the University of Birmingham demonstrated that coffee, when consumed in moderate quantities, was as hydrating as water!
But you can have too much of a bad thing. Drinking more than moderate levels of caffeine won’t improve athletic performance but might give you jitters, anxiety and insomnia.
While it’s difficult to overdose to toxic levels from soda and coffee, you can get into serious trouble by ingesting that pure caffeine powder that’s sold online. And by serious trouble, we’re talking seizures and death.The FDA warns consumers not to buy this stuff because it’s super easy to overdose when a single teaspoon of caffeine powder is equivalent to 25 cups of coffee.