Go ahead, have a cup or two.
Fact: Runners love their coffee so much that a steaming cup first thing in the morning has probably become a can’t-break-it habit. But there’s good news: Along with it giving you the energy you need to start your day, it can also give your workouts a boost, too.
According to Dr Jose Antonio, director and associate professor of exercise and sport science at Nova Southeastern University, it’s safe to consume 5 milligrams (mg) of caffeine per kilogram of bodyweight before a workout to help improve your strength and endurance. So, for example, if you weigh 54kg, that equals out to 272 mg – almost three cups of coffee (one cup has about 100 mg).
Just make sure to keep your daily limit in check to ward off any potential side effects, like jitters, rapid heart beat, or headache. Research has shown that you should consume no more than 400 mg of caffeine per day.
So pour a cup and get your workout in: Here are five science-backed ways caffeine can help power you through your runs and gym days.
It can make you faster.
Research published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport shows that consuming 5 mg of caffeine can give your run a little kick. Runners who had caffeine before running a 5K improved their time by about 1 percent as compared to when they didn’t have it. That means if you run a 20-minute 5K, caffeine could help you cut off 12 seconds.
It helps your muscles recover.
According to the American Physiological Society, post-workout caffeine can aid in muscle recovery if consumed with carbs. That’s because it helps bring glucose from your blood and into your muscles, therefore replenishing your stores, in as little as four hours.
It helps you focus during a workout.
A study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that caffeine before a workout helped people concentrate better during their sweat session, even if they didn’t sleep well the night before. So they were able to devote more mental focus to their task at hand, which can help reap physical benefits, too.
It improves your circulation.
Research from the American Heart Association shows that caffeine improves blood flow by 30 per cent over a span of 75 minutes. Because your muscles need oxygen, better circulation equals more muscle power. So if you drink coffee – one cup in the case of this study – before your workout, that can help your muscles perform optimally for the following hour or so.
It reduces muscle pain.
Research out of the University of Illinois shows that drinking two to three cups of coffee an hour before an intense cycling workout can decrease the amount of muscle pain you feel during exercise.