If you need some extra motivation to workout, try a cup of coffee! Research has shown that caffeine can enhance our performance, especially during strength training. The reason: caffeine elevates levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain that is directly related to our perception of pain as well as our ability to focus. Caffeine consumed one hour prior to your workout, has the ability to trick your mind into thinking you’re not working that hard, therefore you push yourself harder to achieve a higher level of exertion.
Less pain is great, and so too is more focus. A well-timed dose of caffeine has a mind-body connection, and in workouts, where your form is super important to achieve desired results, a better awareness of what we’re doing will translate to better results in terms of our fitness. Another benefit: an increase in blood flow triggered by caffeine means that more oxygenated blood is coursing through our veins, which means our muscles reap the benefits.
In terms of fitness, caffeine has tangible benefits pre-workout, but it also has some post-workout advantages as well. Research has shown that caffeine consumed before and after a workout will help us burn more calories for hours after we’ve exercised. Caffeine consumed pre-workout may help us consume fewer calories after exercise as well.
Take caution, though, in your caffeine consumption. Caffeine is a drug, and it acts as a stimulant on more than just our brains. Too much caffeine can result in an increased heart rate, causing us to have the jitters, or even feel sick to our stomach, so be mindful on your level of consumption, in coffee form or otherwise. Caffeine is also a laxative, and too much before a workout can result in more trips to the bathroom than reps during strength training.
Caffeine affects each of us differently, so a general recommendation of 3-4 cups a day is provided as a guideline for caffeine consumption. For some of us, caffeine affects sleep, and so it is not recommended to drink caffeine more than 4-6 hours before bed. And coffee should not be used as a way to compensate for less sleep. Our bodies need that sleep time in order to repair and rebuild, both our minds and our bodies.
A little jolt of caffeine before your workout is a great way to put a little extra “umpf” into your effort. So give yourself that little extra kick and enjoy the benefits of a little caffeine to your fitness routine. And be sure to stay hydrated!