Why a Pre-Exercise Coffee Can Help You Work Out Harder

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Sip before you cycle.

Coffee on a newspaper

If, like many of us, you’re a regular coffee drinker – we’re talking first-name basis with your barista – it can be hard to know whether your java hit before a workout or an important meeting has any effect at all. Well, for coffee connoisseurs everywhere, according to a recent study conducted by the University of São Paulo, even regular drinkers can still benefit from a coffee boost, and it’s particularly effective pre-workout.

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In the study, competitive cyclists were split into three groups: low caffeine drinkers (less than one cup a day), moderate drinkers (around two cups a day), and high coffee drinkers (three or more cups). The riders were asked to perform time trials, in which they cycled as hard as they could until they burned 450 calories. They did this after taking a caffeine pill, taking a placebo, and after taking nothing at all. Findings showed that most riders’ fastest trial was while on the caffeine pill. Their speed averaged 3.3 per cent faster compared to no pill, and 2.2 per cent faster compared to the placebo. The study also showed that cyclists who were used to high levels of caffeination got the same amount of boosted energy as the people with little to no caffeine in their diets.

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So, while we are not condoning any form of coffee drinking to the point of compulsion, the results indicate there is no need to deprive yourself before trying to push your body to new limits. Or using it as a crutch for those moments when you’re a little low and need to reach “game on” mode.

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