Coffee and Fitness: Can Caffeine Improve Your Workout?

By

Ru Chen

on April 06, 2024

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Key Takeaways

  • Healthy adults can benefit from drinking coffee before a workout
  • Caffeine can boost endurance, muscular strength, metabolism, and energy levels 
  • A low-to-moderate dosage of caffeine (<200 mg) could positively impact athletic performance in healthy adults
  • Individuals should follow their doctor’s recommendations for safe caffeine intake

Coffee is one of the most popular beverages around the world, with around 2.25 billion cups consumed every day. A common question many people wonder is – should you drink a cup of coffee with your workout? Is caffeine the secret to a smoother and more effective workout routine? 

It’s true that caffeine can enhance endurance, muscular strength, alertness, and more. Let’s go over how caffeine consumption can impact your workout performance based on timing and dosage, what benefits you can potentially gain, and what risks to watch out for.  

Understanding Caffeine and Its Effects

Caffeine is a natural stimulant found in plant fruits and leaves. People consume coffee through coffee, tea, energy drinks–even energy bars and cough syrup. With caffeine being so popular, it’s important to know about its effects on the human body. 

A person’s central nervous system, heart, muscles, and energy levels can be affected after consuming caffeine. Here are some common effects of caffeine, which typically last for around 12 hours: 

  • More physical energy 
  • Increased breathing 
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Enhanced fat oxidation
  • Boosted metabolism 
  • Reduced perceived exertion 
  • Better mental alertness

As you can see, these effects could be beneficial for those who are about to attend an exhausting spin class or are trying to deadlift more. However, negative effects occur too, which may be more prominent depending on caffeine intake and individual variance (such as pre-existing medical conditions). Here are some negative effects a coffee drinker might encounter at high doses of caffeine:

  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness 
  • Anxiety 
  • Nausea
  • Chest pain

As long as a healthy adult safely drinks coffee at the recommended dosage, the negative side effects can be mitigated. Let’s dive into the essentials about caffeine timing and dosage when it comes to workouts. 

Caffeine Timing and Dosage

The FDA has noted that a healthy adult should not consume more than 400 mg of caffeine per day. That’s around 4 - 5 cups of coffee per day. Of course, we cannot give any health advice because each individual may react differently to caffeine. For those who are more prone to the risks of caffeine or are extra sensitive, it is important to consult with a physician before consuming coffee. 

In general, it is recommended to consume caffeine before exercise as opposed to after if you plan on drinking any coffee, energy drink, or other product containing caffeine. This way, you can feel a refreshing boost before you workout, which could give you the energy you need to complete a difficult exercise routine. 

If you’re someone who hits the gym in the evenings before you sleep or you exercise to feel calmer, it might be best to skip the caffeine completely. The more caffeine you intake, the more likely you will feel jittery and unable to fall asleep. 

Impact on Workout Performance

There is a reason why so many elite athletes drink coffee or energy drinks during their daily routines or before they compete. Competitive rowers improved their 2,000 row time by around four seconds if they consume caffeine. But you don’t need to be a pro athlete to benefit from coffee – numerous studies have shown that caffeine can have a noticeable, positive effect on workout performance. Coffee in moderation offers various potential health benefits too. 

Here is a breakdown of how caffeine can impact a healthy adult’s workout performance. 

Endurance

Coffee can be a way to boost your endurance. It’s been established that low-to-moderate doses of caffeine can improve endurance. For those planning to run for their daily workout routine, taking around 200 mg of caffeine could be beneficial. You might find yourself capable of running for longer without feeling as tired. 

Exhaustion 

Caffeine has been found to reduce perceived levels of exhaustion, AKA subjective fatigue. This means that if you consume low to moderate coffee before exercising, you might feel less tired throughout or after your workout. 

Muscular strength and power 

A scientific study showed that caffeine is particularly good at improving muscular strength when it comes to aerobic activities. People may also notice enhanced movement velocity and endurance, which make it easier to sprint, throw, jump, and participate in certain sports. 

Sleep quality 

Coffee is perhaps best known for its potential to cause trouble sleeping. If you consume caffeine too close to bedtime, your sleep cycle can be disrupted, resulting in worse workout performance and less energy. This means that for active individuals who do exercises at night, it’s probably not a good idea to drink coffee at this time. Some researchers believe that you should sleep your workout when you’re sleep deprived, especially since a study discovered that inadequate sleep is linked to adverse metabolic health outcomes and reduced physical performance. 

Metabolism

If you drink some coffee before exercising, you might see an increased metabolic rate after your exercise. This means you may see calories burn faster post-workout if you consumed caffeine prior or during your exercise. 

Individual differences 

It’s important to note that at the end of the day, every individual has their own unique experiences with caffeine and relationship with fitness. Some people are extremely sensitive to caffeine, which can disrupt their ability to concentrate, sleep, and perform exercises.  

Pre-existing conditions can also greatly affect whether caffeine intake is safe or advisable. For example, individuals who have heart problems will need to consult with their physicians as caffeine may pose serious adverse effects. If you take certain medications such as thyroid and asthma medicine, these are dangerous to mix with caffeine. 

Sourcing Coffee from Coffee Clubs

Coffee clubs are coffee subscriptions that have skyrocketed in popularity in recent years. They deliver quality coffee straight to your door at your desired shipping frequency and flavor preferences. There are plenty of advantages to a coffee club, such as: 

  • They grant access to specialty beans and exclusive flavors 
  • Convenient coffee deliveries to save you time 
  • High quality roasts 
  • Ethical and sustainable practices 

Let’s go over our favorite popular coffee clubs and why we love them. 

Atlas Coffee Club

If you’re feeling like adding some spice to your workout, try out Atlas Coffee Club. This coffee club is famous for its expert-curated single origin coffees from over 50 countries, granting members exclusive, high-quality roasts. It serves as a fun travel guide for coffee. You can personalize your batch by choosing your ideal grind and roast type. Atlas Coffee Club will ship you delicious beans that aligns with your preferences while still offering exciting options. 

Each batch you receive comes with a noteworthy postcard, tasting notes, and brewing tips so you can make the most out of your delivery. Coffee enthusiasts love collecting these brewing tips and postcards. 

In addition, Atlas Coffee Club aims for supplying ethically sustainable coffee as it pays well above fair trade prices to its coffee farmers. Your taste buds can travel around the world through Atlas Coffee Club without worrying about how the coffee is sourced.

Price: Starts at $9

Shipping frequency: Every 2 or 4 weeks; half bag to 4 bags

Member perks and customization: Choose your coffee roast and grind preferences. Coffee Match Guarantee means if you don’t love the first coffee you receive, your next one’s free  

Pros: 

  • Lets you try out high quality beans from various countries 
  • Gorgeous postcards and helpful brewing tips with each batch 
  • Has rewards programs 
  • All beans freshly roasted to order
  • You can learn about how different regions produce different-tasting coffee 

Cons: 

  • Low consistency
  • Less useful for coffee pros 

Driftaway Coffee

Driftaway Coffee is a fantastic coffee club choice for beginners because the company offers not just a tasting kit for first time subscribers, but also an expert-guided coffee tasting experience. This coffee subscription is based in Brooklyn and delivers unique, curated coffee conveniently to your doorstep. When you brew Driftaway Coffee’s selection of beans, you embark on a delicious journey. 

For those looking to add coffee to their exercise routine, Driftaway Coffee is a great coffee club to complement your workout. You can obtain coffee every two to four weeks with your flavor profile in consideration. No more bland coffee that tastes watery and dull. Instead, you can taste a burst of rich coffee flavor before you begin your workout, perfect for an energy boost. 

Coffee enthusiasts can rest assured that Driftaaway Coffee’s beans are some of the best ethically sourced coffee you can find. With direct partnerships with coffee farmers, Driftaway Coffee pays their farmers fair wages while using environmentally sustainable practices. 

Price: Starts at $16+

Shipping frequency: Every 2 or 4 weeks

Member perks and customization: You can receive an expert-guided coffee tasting via Zoom 

Pros: 

  • High quality single origin beans 
  • Great for coffee beginners
  • Ethical sourcing of coffee
  • All coffee is freshly roasted
  • Coffee is tailored to your taste 
  • Carbon neutral mission
  • Compostable packaging 
  • Sustainable practices and energy efficient roasters 

Cons: 

  • Can be expensive for the amount of coffee you get 
  • Less useful for coffee connoisseurs who know what they like 

Bean Box

Bean Box offers a wide range of roasts from different regions, making it a great choice if you want to try out a variety of coffee flavors and types as you experiment with drinking coffee pre-workout. 

Bean Box comes with expert curation and seamless shipping services, ensuring that you receive your workout coffee without fail at your desired frequency. 

Price: Starts at $16.50 a month 

Shipping frequency: Monthly, weekly, or biweekly 

Member perks and customization: Get a free tasting box (worth $24) when you first join. Members also get free shipping  

Pros: 

  • Great variety from small batch roasters around the country
  • Exclusive access to award-winning coffees 
  • Curated by Cup of Excellence Coffee Competition Judge, Maryna Gray 

Cons: 

  • Not ideal if you want to receive more consistent coffee flavors
  • Expensive 
  • Not enough coffee for heavy coffee drinkers 
  • Limited control over what beans you receive   

Trade Coffee

Trade Coffee offers over 400 different types of coffee, making it a solid option for bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts who are looking to incorporate coffee into their routine. The wide variety of high quality roast ensures everyone can find something that tastes good, and even if you don’t like a particular batch, it’s easy as pie to switch to a different roast. 

The packaging for Trade Coffee is excellent. We love that the coffee comes in a wide-mouth, lightproof bag with an airtight ziplock seal. It’s easy to keep the coffee fresh and secure so you can brew extra cups of your favorite flavors before you go on a run. 

Price: Starts at $15 

Shipping frequency: Every 2 - 4 weeks 

Member perks and customization: You can use the Match feature to discover what kind of coffee suits you best

Pros: 

  • Well-rounded coffee club with high quality beans 
  • Wide variety of coffee
  • Fast and fresh 
  • Offers decaf, single-origin, blend, and other options 
  • Features 50 roasters from all around the country
  • Easy to modify your subscription and coffee preferences 

Cons: 

  • Not the best for those seeking specialty coffees from around the world 
  • Pricing and coffee available can vary depending on the roaster 
  • May have inconsistent flavors due to brokering for 50 roasters

Summary

Caffeine can improve your workout performance by increasing metabolism, endurance, energy levels, and muscular strength. Healthy adults are typically recommended to take around 200 mg of caffeine before a workout. It’s important to avoid caffeine if you have health conditions, sensitivity to caffeine, or exercise to feel calm. 

As more fitness enthusiasts and athletes try out caffeine for better workout results, more researchers are studying the effects of caffeine. The world of coffee and fitness has a fascinating, mutually-beneficial intersection, and we are excited to give you updates as more discoveries are made.

About the Author

Content Writer

Ru Chen

Content Writer

Ru Chen is a content writer with several years of experience in creating engaging and well-researched articles. She mostly writes about coffee, business, digital marketing, and law. In her free time, she can be found watching horror movies and playing board games with her partner in Brooklyn.

Ru Chen is a content writer with several years of experience in creating engaging and well-researched articles. She mostly writes about coffee, business, digital marketing, and law. In her free time, she can be found watching horror movies and playing board games with her partner in Brooklyn.