It’s no secret that I am a huge coffee fan. I never used to drink it but final year at University got the better of me and I went from a milky Latte to a black Americano with an extra shot in the space of about a month. Nowadays I have coffee every single day without fail, whether that be from a coffee shop or chilling on the sofa at home. Coffee has a bit of a bad rep when it comes to health and fitness (one of the reasons I avoided it for so long) but is it really all that bad? Can squatting and shot-ing ever mix? What is your coffee habit doing to your fitness goals?
We’ll ignore the huge slices of cake, shall we?
I have been doing my research and found both positive and negative ways in which coffee is having an impact so sit tight, get yourself a cuppa and let us begin…
We’ll start with the positives and you will probably be pleased to hear that there are a lot.
- Calorie Burner: The International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, found that trained athletes who took in caffeine pre-exercise burned around 15% more calories during the three hour period post-exercise than those who took a placebo. This comes down to the fact that coffee contains caffeine (surprise, surprise), which you probably already know is a stimulant. What you might not know is that it has also been shown to enhance our metabolic rate and can help increase fat oxidation as a result of this – cappuccino anyone?
- Athletic Performance: You might also be surprised to hear that sipping coffee has also been linked to improved athletic performance according to the International Society of Sports Nutrition. This is due to the fact that caffeine stimulates the central nervous system. Research has shown that that it can help with memory and concentration, which subsequently helps when it comes to your workout. This leads us on to our next benefit…
- Pre-workout: Pre- workout can be expensive but it turns out that everything you need might already be sitting in your cup board (or, you know, at your local Costa). As well as hoping with your performance, a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning has revealed that caffeine can also help to reduce DOMS when it was compared with a placebo. Less time needed for muscle recovery more time to make the gains!
Unfortunately, it’s not all good news and there are some pretty bad ways your coffee habit could be impacting your health and preventing you from achieving your fitness goals.
- Calorie Intake: We’ve talked about how coffee can help when it comes to burning calories but make the wrong order and you could be adding a lot more calories to your dinner break. It’s estimated that 34% of us (ahem, me) fall victim to what is called ‘upselling’. Picture the scene: you’ve ordered a small latte and the cute barrister has told you you can upgrade for only 50p extra. Seems like a good idea, right? Wrong. This could apparently result in an extra 17,000 calories over a 12 month period. Of course it depends on your coffee preference but certainly food for thought.
- Anxiety: Perhaps not directly linked to your workout but certainly important to consider, coffee consumption, due to the caffeine, triggers the release of the same hormones involved in the fight-or-flight response. This can lead to increased feelings of anxiety and has the potential to exacerbate any existing anxiety disorders.
- 40 winks: Despite apparently helping with performance, if you’re drinking coffee within three hours of heading to bed you could be increasing the time it takes to drift off by up to 40 minutes – that’s a lot of extra counting sheep. Being sleep deprived can have a huge impact on your whole day, not to mention your workout.
So there you have it. As you can see, science has been anything but conclusive and there are both positive and negatives ways coffee can impact your health and fitness. My thoughts overall? Everything in moderation. I personally find myself more motivated, awake and content after a coffee in the morning (not to mention I enjoy the taste). I usually go for a white Americano with almond/coconut milk so it is not too calorific. Every so often I will treat myself to a dirty chai but it’s all about being aware. Stay hydrated and maybe cut back on the syrups and you’ll be fine.
What’s your go to coffee order? Let me know in the comments below.