For those who don’t like pre-workout before hitting the gym, coffee has long been a fan-favorite alternative. In many cases, coffee consumption has less to do with exercise, and more to do with loving those magic beans. However, some sources say that coffee is better when consumed after exercise. If you’re confused about whether you should drink your coffee before or after workout, you’re not alone. Here’s what you need to know.
Caffeine and Exercise
Studies about using caffeine to increase athletic performances have resulted in some pretty compelling information. This stimulant triggers a hormonal release that gets your adrenaline going and your hormones pumping. As a result, it can create a temporary increase in energy, both physical and mental.
In other words, you won’t feel as tired in your body while starting to become more alert and focused. As a result, you’re able to get to the gym and put in some hard time.
Pros and Cons of Drinking Coffee Before Exercise
The main benefit of drinking coffee before exercising is the stimulating effects mentioned above. Grabbing your favorite beans from Coffee or Bust and starting your day off with a cup of hot coffee can set the tone for your training.
The average cup of coffee has around 90mg of caffeine— comparatively, pre-workout tends to have 150-300mg of caffeine per serving. For those that are sensitive to pre-workout, coffee is a nice alternative that offers a slow release of caffeine, rather than a big jolt.
However, coffee has some downsides as well. Drinking coffee before intense exercise can cause indigestion, which many runners discover the hard way while miles from home. If you drink your coffee with sugar and cream, you’re adding a lot of low-value calories that may boost your energy, but could negate your fat-burning efforts.
It’s also important to note that drinking a liter of coffee before training doesn’t have the same hydrating qualities as drinking a liter of water. In other words, there are plenty of better options for supporting your training efforts.
Pros and Cons of Drinking Coffee After Exercise
If coffee offers you a mental and physical burst of energy, drinking it before exercise should be a clear winner, right? A couple of years ago, a study was released that said coffee helps replenish glycogen stores after exercise. In other words, it plays a significant role in recovery. A little digging, however, showed that the study was with a minimal sample size and had some significant gaps.
Another consideration is that exercise is a form of stress on your body. It raises your blood pressure and drops your immune system, albeit temporarily. This is natural when expending energy, and the benefits far outweigh the temporary side effects. However, that rebound phase after your training session is essential for kicking off recovery on the right foot. As coffee is a stimulant, drinking it after training could extend the stress response happening in your body, making it challenging to rest and let your body recover.
Don’t be alarmed, though: going out for a coffee with your friends after a killer workout isn’t going to derail your progress.
Timing is Everything
So should you drink coffee before or after your workout? To get the best possible results, you’ll drink it about an hour before you train. This time frame allows for the caffeine to hit your bloodstream and give you the boost you need. Additionally, it can help you avoid gastrointestinal distress while training. That’s a win-win.