Another year has begun and many of us have entered it with renewed determination and resolve towards improving our health and fitness. In 2017, more than half of Americans reached for a daily cup of coffee. Chances are, if you aren’t a coffee drinker then you know at least one person who loves their daily cup of caffeine or someone who hates it.
The debate has long raged about the drawbacks versus the benefits of having caffeine and many researchers have gone on to highlight its scientific benefits. Much press has focused on caffeine’s role in protecting against Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. However, the pros of drinking coffee in moderation can go beyond this and extend to your physical fitness and workouts.
Here are some of the ways a cup of coffee can help your fitness journey.
1. Kickstart Your Metabolism
Drinking a cup of coffee has been shown as a great way to boost your metabolism and your body’s fat burning abilities. The main component of coffee is caffeine which stimulates the nervous system. This has been shown to block Adenosine and also increase release of neurons.This is particularly effectively right before you work out.
By having coffee/caffeine before you work out, the calories burned increases. Additionally, the energy source used in your workout are your fat cells instead of your glycogen cells. The result is increased fat burning and leaner muscles – great if you are trying to be healthier and fitter. Not a fan of the taste? If you are trying to cut out unnecessary calories or dislike the taste of bitterness in your coffee, try adding some salt to your coffee instead of cream or sugar or a calorie-free sugar substitute. Or, consider taking a pre-workout!
2. Protect Your Heart
More recently, consumption of coffee has been linked to heart health. As presented by the American Heart Association, it showed that drinking a cup of coffee was shown to lower the risk of heart failure and stroke.
If you are an avid fan of exercise or endurance workouts, then your cardiovascular health is important. Many of the energy drinks and supplements on the market today contain caffeine, the main stimulant found in coffee. By raising the level of epinephrine in your blood, caffeine can stimulate the energy needed for endurance exercises and high interval training.
A bonus benefit: Researchers at the University of Illinois found that coffee can help reduce the muscle pain after exercise and is a great way to help with those sore muscles. If you are looking to increase the intensity of your workouts and get the most from your training, having a cup of coffee 30-60 minutes before your session can help you with this.
3. Great Way to Get Your Antioxidants
A study done by the University of Scranton in 2015 showed that coffee was one of the best ways for the human body to absorb antioxidants surpassing a serving of grapes or blueberries. It is also a leading source of antioxidants in America. While there are many other great sources of antioxidants including a range of fruits and vegetables, none of them were absorbed as well as caffeine from drinking coffee.
So why the fuss about antioxidants? Antioxidants have been linked to reduction of diseases such as cancer and heart disease. They help to boost your immune system and protect your cells from being damaged by free radicals.
Though the benefits are great, coffee should not become your sole source of antioxidants. Be sure to include a wide variety of fruits and vegetables including plant-based sources. As a bonus: these foods are typically rich in fiber as well, an essential part of a healthy diet.
There are many great reasons to drink coffee including these three. However, always keep in mind that it should be consumed in moderation along with a healthy diet and long term or heavy drinkers may see diminished benefits due to a tolerance build up. Excessive consumption can actually negate these benefits. Those pregnant, breastfeeding, or with certain heart conditions should stick to decaf versions.
If you are working out after drinking coffee, be sure to drink enough water to keep your body hydrated and balance the effects of increased fluid loss.
By Jane Sandwood