Cafecito lovers, rejoice. According to a recent article in SELF, a bit of coffee right before you hit the gym might give you the boost you need to take your workout to the next level.
“It’s very helpful,” Albert Matheny, M.S., R.D., a certified strength and conditioning specialist, told the magazine. He explained that the caffeine found in coffee is a central nervous stimulant, which makes it good for athletic performance with aerobic sports like running and cycling.
In fact, pro athletes like former Olympic gymnast Nastia Liukin fuel up with a cup of joe before training. “I like to eat something very small beforehand,” she said in an interview with The New York Times. “Whether it’s a banana or a piece of fruit, and I have coffee.”
Research studies have found that coffee can combat central nervous system fatigue, and delay onset muscle fatigue, which can help improve your endurance when exercising, CNN reports.
"It can also increase the release of feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine, which effects pain receptors and mood," said Heidi Skolnik, M.S., a sports nutritionist, told CNN.
In other words, you’ll actually enjoy your workouts more and getting through those laps few reps will feel easier. What’s more, studies have found that people who drank coffee before their workouts actually ate less throughout the day (by 72 calories, on average) than those who didn't.
But before you decide to down that extra double shot of espresso on your way to the gym, you should know that, like with all things in life, moderation is key.
Matheny says 95 to 200 milligrams (equivalent to an eight-ounce cup) is all you need for an extra boost. “Anything above that is too much — you’ve lost the performance benefits of the coffee and you’ve overstimulated yourself,” he said.
If you happen to be caffeine-sensitive or work out at night, opt for a smaller serving. Tea can also be a great option as it gives less of a jolt than coffee. This way you’ll get an extra boost of energy without feeling foggy from your workout.