Many of us love coffee for the instant burst of energy granted by caffeine. After all, it’s a lifesaver on those lazy weekday mornings or while pulling all-nighters to meet a deadline. This energy boost may make you consider, should you drink coffee before or after a workout? You might think coffee is only to be drunk before working out, but let’s consider both sides and we could uncover some surprising benefits of drinking coffee after a workout.
Coffee And Exercise
If you take workout supplements, you may notice that many of them contain caffeine. This is obviously because of the energy-boosting effects of caffeine. Caffeine can also improve reaction time which is important if you play sports as a workout. Conversely, excess caffeine can make you anxious, jittery, and unable to sleep. Why does this happen?
These effects, both good and bad, are primarily due to the relationship between caffeine and cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone produced in the body that makes you more alert, more focused, and also raises blood pressure and metabolism. Cortisol levels are heightened by both emotional and physical stress, so it’s often referred to as the stress hormone.
Caffeine increases cortisol levels, which can be good or bad. If you have medical conditions that affect blood pressure or anxiety, this might not be the best combination for you. However, if you want to boost your metabolism post-workout or have more energy to go the extra mile, caffeine can boost the effectiveness of your workouts.
When Should You Drink Coffee?
Most of us are used to having coffee first thing in the morning, before or during breakfast. Coincidentally, this is also when cortisol levels are high. Cortisol levels rise just after waking up and peak a few hours after awakening. This should help you decide when to have your morning coffee- if you’re more vulnerable to the anxiety-inducing effects of caffeine, then delay your morning coffee so it doesn’t merge with a natural cortisol spike.
Mid-afternoon might be the best time to drink coffee. It’s after the morning cortisol spike, prevents an afternoon slump, and is not so late that it disrupts your sleep cycle.
Should You Drink Coffee Before or After Working Out?
You don’t need to drink coffee before a workout to have a good one but it does help. Caffeine has been shown to improve physical performance, circulation, metabolism, and exercise tolerance. This could help you work out longer or harder without getting fatigued too soon and can also boost calorie-burning during and after working out. However, you should be careful not to drink coffee too close to a workout since it can also cause gastrointestinal issues. If you exercise at night, then caffeine may not be an option at all.
Most of us don’t even stop to consider drinking coffee after a workout. After all, the hard part is over, right? Well drinking coffee after a workout can actually help in a lot of ways, perhaps even more than drinking it simply for energy before exercise.
Benefits Of Drinking Coffee After a Workout
Here are some great benefits of drinking coffee after a workout:
1. Faster muscle recovery
Muscle recovery depends on a compound called glycogen, which is naturally increased when you consume caffeine. Glycogen is what gives muscles energy and it needs to be replenished after a workout to prevent soreness and stiffness. For best results, combine your coffee with some carbohydrates.
2. Burn more calories
Caffeine speeds up your metabolism and so does exercise. By drinking coffee after a workout, you can prolong this metabolic boost and burn more calories, which is great if you’re exercising to lose weight.
3. Increase fat breakdown
Caffeine increases adrenaline in the body, which signals the body to break down and metabolize fat cells. Again, this is great if you’re trying to lose weight or reduce your body fat percentage.
All in all, caffeine is a great fitness tool both before and after a workout. Don’t go overboard though, either have it before working out or after, but not both! Consuming that much coffee combined with the cortisol spike of exercising can make you jittery, anxious, and unable to sleep.
All things in moderation is the key to fitness. And of course, if you want to meet your fitness goals you should skip sugary, creamy coffee and opt for something simple like black coffee or low-calorie coffee drinks without lots of milk and cream.