The benefits of working out in the morning are widely known. By starting your day with a sweat session, you can rev up your metabolism and increase the number of calories you burn throughout the day. The rush of endorphins you feel after a workout can also boost your energy and set your mood for the rest of the day. The biggest advantage of a morning exercise ritual, however, may also be the fitness world’s best-kept secret. If you begin the morning with a cup of caffeinated coffee followed by exercise, you can maximize your exercise performance and boost your long-term fitness gains.
When you drink a cup of coffee, the caffeine increases the number of fatty acids circulating in your blood stream. If adequately fueled, your muscles can absorb and burn fat in order to fuel your activity. If not, they must use your body’s limited storage of carbohydrates. A cup of coffee allows your body more fatty acids to burn, saving the carbohydrates for later on in the workout. This enables you to exercise longer, which explains why caffeine, a legal stimulant under the International Olympic Committee, is the most popular drug in sports.
In a study of caffeine consumption and exercise among fit young men, researchers found that people who drank caffeine before a workout felt more able to invest effort. This is because caffeine helps muscles to contract by encouraging the sarcoplasmic reticulum, a network of membranes that lie within the muscle cells, to release calcium ions. More calcium within the muscles reduces the percentage of maximum exertion that given exercise requires. This is also psychologically beneficial to the athlete, whose perceived level of exertion reduces after drinking a cup of coffee. “They would put more work into the training session, and when the session was finished, in the presence of the caffeinated drink, they were more psychologically ready to go again,” Michael Duncan, a senior lecturer in sports science at the University of Exeter in England and leader of the study, told the New York Times.
Finally, coffee improves circulation within microvessels, which, unlike large arteries, regulate tissue blood flow and blood pressure. A different study measured post-occlusive reactive hyperemia, or increased blood flow, within the microvessels of the finger. Hyperemia is a marker of good circulation. After drinking caffeinated coffee, the blood of the study’s participants had significantly enhanced hyperemia compared to those who drank decaffeinated coffee. Improved circulation means more blood is being delivered to the muscles during exercise, which boosts performance and promotes cell growth and organ function.
You don’t have to be an Olympic athlete to reap the benefits of caffeinated coffee. Anyone, regardless of their level of fitness or experience, can see increased endurance and performance during exercise by incorporating caffeine into their fitness routine. Simply replace your pre-workout smoothie with a cup of caffeinated coffee, head to the gym, and be prepared to revolutionize your exercise.
The accompanying slideshow is provided by the Daily Meal Staff.