Gym goers and fitness fanatics around the world swear by coffee and its caffeine properties to enhance their performance and accelerate their results. But is drinking coffee good or bad for you? We investigate.
What are the benefits of drinking coffee?
Coffee could well be described as one of the healthiest things on the planet. Drinking coffee has multiple proven health benefits and it's no wonder it's such a widely consumed beverage around the world.
Coffee contains caffeine which is a stimulant, and research has shown that it can improve memory, mood, energy, and even reaction times. This means that if you are feeling a little lethargic or suffer from a generally sedentary lifestyle, a cup of coffee in the morning could set you up for a productive and happy day at work.
Studies have also shown that caffeine can boost your metabolic rate by 3–11%, meaning it can help you to burn fat and lose weight as part of a healthy lifestyle and calorie-controlled diet. It can also improve physical performance, so a cup of coffee about half an hour before a big training session or race could help you achieve a new personal best or win a race you've been working hard towards.
Finally, coffee contains high levels of antioxidants which are proven to combat free radicals in the body and fight against the effects of aging. Some people even get more antioxidants from coffee than from fruit and vegetables.
So, it's safe to say that coffee is very good for your health and when consumed in sensible quantities without heaps of sugar and cream, it is one of the healthiest things you can add into your diet.
Caffeine as a pre-workout
Caffeine is often a main ingredient in sports supplements and specifically 'pre-workout' drinks and mixes. This is because caffeine is a stimulant which can improve reaction times, alertness, and energy levels – all things which are beneficial during a workout, race, or sports game.
Caffeine is an effective energy-boosting supplement that works best when taken one to two hours before your workout. However, the human body adapts very quickly to the effects of caffeine so it's a good idea to cycle your intake so that you can maximise the benefits and prevent withdrawal symptoms.
Coffee health risks – caffeine withdrawal symptoms
Despite all of the amazing health and performance benefits that coffee has to offer, unfortunately it does have some drawbacks too. The human body is an incredibly adaptive machine, but this can sometimes have negative effects, including reduced reaction to the stimulant over time and withdrawal symptoms.
Some of the symptoms of caffeine withdrawal include headaches (which can also be caused by too much caffeine), irritability, rapid heart beat, and muscle aches. Other negative side effects of too much caffeine include confusion caused by over-stimulation of the brain, heart burn caused by the acidity in coffee, and increased blood pressure when used as a pre-workout before rigorous exercise.
As with anything, it is important to exercise caution and not overdo it. Keep your intake limited to one cup of black coffee a day and don't rely on it to get you through the day or on pre-workout to get you through your exercise regime.