October 27, 2017 at 1:53 pm EDT | by David Magida
The coffee question
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Consuming coffee before a workout has pros and cons.

For many, coffee is a key part of the morning ritual. A cup of coffee wakes you up, gets you ready for the day and often can just make us happy.

Coffee also can be tremendously beneficial to your workout if used in the appropriate dosages. Improved efficiency, fatigue and pain resistance and a boost of energy are all noticeable benefits from pre-workout coffee. However, excessive coffee use can lead to a number of issues with your body. It’s time to take the deep dive into the good, the bad and the ugly of coffee with your workout.

The good: 

There’s no doubt coffee can give you an edge in many ways. When you wake up, coffee in the morning may be part of your routine. Establishing a routine and keeping it allows you to get your day started with a nice rhythm and can help you focus on attacking your workout head on right out of the gates. So there’s certainly a mental advantage to coffee in the morning.

Physically, we all know that the caffeine in a cup of Joe can boost your energy, but did you know it can also provide your muscles with resistance to fatigue? This enables you to train harder and faster, maximizing your benefits and improving your overall efficiency. The caffeine can even numb your muscles to the pain you feel from things like muscular stress, exhaustion and even lactic acid buildup. Numbing your muscles just a hair enables you to squeeze every last bit out of them.

The bad: 

But let’s be honest, coffee can boost your performance but it isn’t some miracle drug to make you better. It also has a few adverse effects worth noting. Before you chug six cups of java and try to knock out your next big training session, remember that caffeine is a diuretic. Simultaneously, it can alter your body’s PH balance, shifting you to slightly more acidic. In combination, this can lead to dehydration and even muscular cramping as a result. There’s a fine balance of a cup or two to create maximum benefit without going overboard and negatively impacting your body.

Coffee can also make you jittery and give that achy, anxious feeling when you drink too much and begin sweating before you even start your workout. It’s not a great feeling. And if you train at night, you risk sacrificing sleep just because you ingested a cup of coffee a few hours before bed. That sleep is key for your recovery, to allow you to absorb as much as you can from your workout. Timing with your coffee is key. And let’s not forget, pre-workout caffeine presents an even trickier issue to deal with: accelerating your digestive system.

The ugly:  

When you consume large doses of caffeine, your digestive system, specifically your gastro-intestinal (GI) tract can start to work on hyper drive. The end result can vary, but excessive caffeine can lead to GI distress, abdominal pain bloating and even, you guessed it, the runs. This is the type of thing that can completely derail your workout. Nobody needs a rhythm breaker like that. If you’re training properly, the workout itself is already difficult enough to throw GI concerns into the mix. The potential associated pain is also nothing to joke about. This can be the stuff of nightmares, so to avoid it, be sure to limit your coffee intake to one or two cups maximum before training. And, to be safe, you may want to leave yourself an hour or two for nature to run its course before heading to the gym or out on a run.

This isn’t meant to scare you away from your pre-workout java ritual. If it works for you, absolutely keep on consuming it. But consider the quantity if your consumption, the length and intensity of your workout and the time gap until your session begins before chugging that Venti. You’ll avoid any potential disasters. And used in just the right dosage, it will allow you to crush your workout or even your competition.

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