With all the attention surrounding fancy pre-workout powders and supplements, it’s easy to forget that the simplest, most effective pre-workout drink is coffee. Obviously, coffee provides you with an energy boost, but that’s not the only reason you should drink it before you workout. There are numerous other health benefits to downing a cup of joe before breaking a sweat.
Coffee turns your body into a fat incinerator. That’s because you consume 60-100mg of caffeine per cup. And once caffeine enters the bloodstream, it immediately starts to mobilize fat tissue and increase metabolism. Caffeine is a stimulant, meaning it “stimulates” the central nervous system. The central nervous system then sends signals to fat cells telling them to break down fat, leaving you with more lean muscle and a trim physique.
Another pre-workout benefit of coffee is the increased flow of adrenaline to the blood stream. Adrenaline is a hormone released by the adrenal gland. Once released, it actually increases strength for a short period of time. The quick burst of energy and increased physical strength results in the ability to lift more weight and perform more reps of any given exercise. That’s why drinking coffee pre-workout helps keep you motivated to do a few more sets before you head for the door.
For endurance runners, coffee helps by reducing the glycogen consumption in the muscles. Glycogen is stored energy that is depleted during exercise. Muscle fatigue comes from the loss of glycogen, which is delayed by caffeine. The body responds by using fat as an energy reserve instead, reducing the glycogen burn rate. The technical term for this phenomenon is “glycogen sparing”. When glycogen supplies are available, your muscles will function longer. This leads to longer running sessions and more calories burned.
The glycogen sparing effect helps during intense, short term exercises as well. But an even more noticeable effect caffeine has on the body is in the reduction of lactic acid. When glycogen is depleted, lactic acid begins to build up in your muscles. You know that burning sensation you feel when you’re working out? That’s the feeling of lactic acid building up in your muscles. When you drink coffee pre-workout, the burning sensation is reduced.