How Caffeine Could Help Your Workout

A good cup of coffee can really give you a boost of energy in an otherwise sluggish morning. The same can be true when it comes to your exercise routine as well. Caffeine has long been used by athletes to increase and improve stamina, endurance, and muscle recovery (via TIME). While the exact mechanisms are still not entirely well understood, several studies have analyzed the effect caffeine has on physical activity.

A recently published study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that participants who took 3 milligrams of caffeine per kilogram, regardless of the time of day, saw an increase in maximum fat oxidation and maximum oxygen uptake. Time of day is important because it has been observed that naturally, maximum fat oxidation is highest in the afternoon, even without any caffeine intake. In this study, researchers saw that participants who ingested caffeine in the morning prior to working out exhibited nearly the same levels of maximum fat oxidation as those who exercised in the afternoon without any caffeine. Thus they concluded that ingesting caffeine in the afternoon and then exercising could yield the best results in terms of fat oxidation.

Caffeine can improve muscle strength and power

This new study is not the first to draw an association between caffeine and exercise performance. A 2018 meta-analysis reviewed 20 studies that looked at the influence caffeine had on the power and strength outcomes of workouts. They found that indeed caffeine significantly increased muscle power and strength, particularly in the upper body, when ingested prior to exercise. Of note, in most of the studies they analyzed, caffeine was ingested in capsule form as opposed to liquid.

While more robust studies still need to be conducted, there is no denying that caffeine increases fat oxidation and improves muscle performance. There is currently no set standard of how much caffeine pre-workout should be ingested, but some common side effects of potentially too much caffeine include rapid heartbeat, irritability, increased anxiety, dizziness, and more (via Healthline). So just remember to take everything in moderation and consult with your healthcare provider and trainer to access the best way to increase your workout performance.