What Is the Best Way to Boost Your Workout With Caffeine?
Why Add Caffeine to Your Workouts?
The effects of caffeine on athletic performance have been well-studied. Within healthy limits, taking caffeine before workouts boosts your strength and athletic capacity.
Here are three of the main ways athletes and everyday gymgoers can benefit from combining caffeine with their workouts:
1. Improve Your Athletic Performance
Well-known for providing a sense of alertness, caffeine also gives you more speed, power, and force at the intracellular level when you're exercising. With enhanced performance during a workout, your muscles train apply more force, and as a result, you see more gains.
One study found that in a 1500 meters run, the group that drank caffeinated coffee one hour beforehand ran an average of 4.2 seconds faster than the decaf group. An analysis of 27 studies concluded that pre-workout caffeine could increase muscle power in large muscle groups by 7%.
2. Increase Endurance
Caffeine also boosts muscular endurance, allowing you to perform better and for longer before you fatigue. Pre-workout caffeine also helps promote the good feelings you need to keep going by promoting more endorphin release. By raising your brain's dopamine levels, caffeine boosts motivation and helps you stay focused during workouts.
3. Helps with Weight Loss
Caffeine has a thermogenic effect, which means it boosts your body's production of heat. The result is burning more calories in the same amount of time. Glycogen is the form of glucose your muscles use for energy. Research shows that caffeine boosts glycogen utilization in the body during exercise, which also helps you burn more calories. With these combined effects, it's no surprise caffeine is often an ingredient included in weight loss supplements.
Ways to Get Caffeine
Caffeine is a compound that occurs naturally in certain plants, most notably in coffee beans, tea leaves, and cacao beans. Here are the most common sources of caffeine you can get and the amount of caffeine they contain:
- Coffee contains about 138 mg of caffeine per cup.
- Espresso shots have about 60 mg of caffeine each, so two shots provide nearly the amount of caffeine in regular coffee.
- Tea has 50 mg per cup on average.
- Soda has around 50 mg per eight to 12 oz serving.
- Energy drinks can have anywhere from 50 to 150 mg per serving.
- Caffeine supplements are pills containing caffeine in its isolated form, known as caffeine anhydrous. Swallowing a pill makes your caffeine intake easy to dose, especially if you want to get the same amount of caffeine before each workout.
When Is The Best Time to Take Caffeine for Enhanced Performance?
Once absorbed, caffeine stays in your bloodstream for about eight hours, peaking after about 90 minutes and dropping off after three or four hours as it gets processed out through the liver. The best time to drink caffeine to boost workout performance is 45 to 60 minutes before your workout. That's how long it takes for the caffeine to assimilate fully into your bloodstream and give you the full benefits.
By the time you're warmed up and well into your workout, your dose of pre-workout caffeine will reach its peak, helping you sustain your performance.
Caffeine Before Workouts: How to Achieve a Sustained Release
To delay and extend the benefits of caffeine for workout performance, drink an energy drink before and during your workout instead of taking a caffeine pill or shot of espresso, which will jolt you more quickly. Some energy drinks also have the benefit of replacing electrolytes lost to sweat, which helps keep your muscles functioning optimally.
Instead of energy drinks or gels, another option is to take a caffeine supplement designed for a sustained release of caffeine such as dicaffeine malate.
How Much Caffeine Should You Take for Workouts?
Around 50 to 75 mg of caffeine before a workout is enough for someone unaccustomed to caffeine. If you drink two cups of coffee in the morning, you might want 150 to 300 mg of caffeine before a workout to feel the full effects. As long as you don't have too much caffeine at a time or in a day, you can reap the benefits of caffeine without unwanted side effects.
Caffeine Side Effects and Risks
The side effects you experience taking caffeine depend on how much caffeine you've already become accustomed to or your "caffeine tolerance." While caffeine has performance-enhancing effects on your muscles, it also permeates cells throughout the body and can wreak havoc in high doses. Signs of taking too much caffeine can include:
- Anxiety or nervousness
Reduce your caffeine intake if you experience any of the above symptoms. Some people have caffeine sensitivity, which makes them susceptible to these side effects at lower doses.