When I started exercising more than a decade ago, I was an absolute novice. No one told me the do's and the don'ts. I just went in there and hit those dumbells. Over the years, I have tried all forms of fitness routines – hitting the gym, running, cycling, hiking, swimming, and even functional training. For the past 5 years, I have been doing CrossFit and am now a big fan of its high-intensity movements. In and out in less than an hour.
Through all those years, one thing remains constant. I avoided anything artificial. I would see people around me taking supplements before and after workouts and somehow, I never understood the purpose of it all. I rather relied on a healthy, natural diet and good old coffee. I started out drinking instant coffee mixed with water and that tasted awful. So, I moved to freshly brewed coffee but that took time and gave me acidity.
And then I tried cold brewed coffee and I liked it so much that I launched a brand of my own called Bolt Cold Brew (www.boltcoldbrew.com)
The benefits of drinking coffee before any form of intense movement are apparent to anyone who has it on a regular basis. But there is a science behind why coffee works the way it does and what is the right way to consume it. Here I lay out my 5 favorite reasons to drink coffee before a workout.
Increases athletic performance
Depending upon what coffee you are drinking, you are consuming about 100 to 200 mg of caffeine in every cup. This is enough to increase your athletic performance almost instantly. The caffeine prevents adenosine (the hormone that makes you tired and sleepy) from binding itself to its receptors and thus increases alertness.
Caffeine also causes the release of a hormone called adrenalin. Adrenalin is a flight or fight hormone which is usually released in response to some external threat and gives your body a sudden burst of energy and increases attention level. By stimulating that effect, caffeine makes sure you are ready for that workout. It literally prepares you for war.
According to research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, consumption of caffeine before a 1,500 dash decreased the time taken to run and increased the speed of the finishing burst.
According to another study published by The National Center For Biotechnology Information, consumption of caffeine up to 3mg/kg of body weight (240mg for someone who is 80 kgs), increases performance across a range of sports ranging from swimming, running, rowing, racquet sports, etc.
Accelerates fat loss
The jury is out, and caffeine burns fat. As per a study published in NCBI, subjects who were given caffeine saw a significant increase in their metabolic rate over a 3 hour period. Even after cutting the amount of caffeine in half, the subject saw the same increase in metabolic rate. A high metabolic rate helps burn body fat over a long period of time.
Beyond caffeine, coffee has other substances such as Theobromine, a natural stimulant, Theophylline, is used to treat Asthma, and Chlorogenic acid, that slows the absorption of carb and thus makes you feel full for longer period of time.
Together, these have proven to increase metabolism by up to 10-11%, on average. A substantial increase when you add those numbers over a long period of time.
Reduces muscle pain
Coffee helps in pain relief after a strenuous workout and also alleviate muscle soreness. As a central nervous system stimulant, the caffeine in coffee helps relax muscles which optimizes blood flow. In fact, caffeine is actively combined with other pain relief medications such as aspirin and acetaminophen to increase their effectiveness.
According to a study by the Journal of American Association, when caffeine was included in medication, they needed 40% less of the pain-relieving drug to get the same impact.
According to another study published in The Journal of Pain, when consumed before the workout, caffeine significantly reduced the pain ratings of a group who did 30 minutes of moderate intensity cycling exercise. They believed this was due to the hypoalgesic properties of caffeine.
Coffee contains a high amount of antioxidants that protect against damage from free radicals and helps fight cancer. According to study from Health Professionals Follow-Up, regular coffee consumption could reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke and also offers protection from Type-2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Sets a morning routine
In order to see real results from your workouts, it is important to stay at it over a long period of time. The best way to get something done is to automate it into a natural routine. And I find coffee to be an excellent way to automate my fitness routine. Over the years, I have been having coffee before my workouts in the morning. To the extent that now my morning coffee has become a subconscious cue to go hit the gym or just take a run.
As you can see, coffee has multiple benefits as a pre-workout. But it is important to know that you should consume coffee without any sugar or artificial sweeteners. Otherwise, you are consuming unnecessary calories and are kind of defeating the whole point of the exercise.
We understand that black coffee could be too strong or bitter for a few people, while a few might not like its high acidity. That is the reason we created Bolt Cold Brew. Made from only the highest grade 100% Arabica beans, Bolt is brewed for over 24 hours at cold temperature. This gives a natural sweetness and excellent flavor. I drink one before my morning workouts and another to keep me going throughout the day.
More recently I have started having Bolt Cold Brew mixed with cold pressed organic coconut oil. The coconut oil provides an excellent source of medium-chain triacylglycerols (MCTs). These are especially helpful if you are in intermittent fasting as they suppress appetite, slow aging and boost the immune system. When combined with my cold brew, they are an excellent source of energy as they are quickly metabolized as fuel.