On some level, we all know that caffeine is not exactly good for us, at least not in large doses and certainly not when it comes from sugary sodas or coffee drinks loaded up with cream and sugar (Starbucks: proudly serving 10% coffee in every coffee drink!). But whether you’re a soda hound or you drink black coffee throughout the day, you’ve likely experienced side effects like the jittery high that keeps you working like mad for an hour followed by the comatose state that leaves you craving more.
Then there are the headaches that plague truly devoted caffeine enthusiasts who don’t get their fix in a timely manner. I haven’t personally experienced this, but I have no less than 5 friends or aquaintances that do.
However, imbibing a moderate amount of caffeine can actually have some benefits for the casual drinker. Aside from giving you that extra boost of energy and focus, it can also have healthy effects for those who have the proper enzymes to break it down efficiently, potentially reducing the risk for heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and even some forms of cancer, according to various studies.
It can also have an impact on your weight training routine.
Who Shouldn’t Use Caffeine
If caffeine seems to give you nothing but trouble, causing nervousness, insomnia, high blood pressure, and other unpleasant results even in small doses, then it’s a good bet that you are amongst the group of people whose enzymes for metabolizing caffeine are not particularly efficient.
In this case you’re probably better off staying away from the substance entirely. But if you enjoy a couple cups of Joe on a regular basis and the practice seems to produce no ill side effects, there’s no reason you can’t use it to your advantage when it comes to lifting weights.
Why You Should Use Caffeine
The first thing caffeine can do for you, as you may already know, is boost your energy levels for a short period of time. In fact, recent studies have suggested that consuming a caffeinated beverage before a workout can give you the energy you need to have a longer or more intense workout session, pushing yourself harder in order to get the most out of your weight training (or other) regimen.
I personally experience this. My ideal pre-workout shake consists of 1/2 scoop chocolate Muscle Milk in a cup of coffee with plenty of ice.
Of course, you will likely be more fatigued afterwards, due to both the extra work and the caffeine crash. And you should definitely increase your hydration throughout the workout to combat the diuretic effects of caffeine. But considering that you stand to have a much more fruitful exercise session, especially on days when you’re tired to begin with, why wouldn’t you give it a try?
Caffeine Usage for Fat Loss
In addition, caffeine can offer benefits that may help you to stay trim in the midsection even as you work on toning or bulking with your weight lifting regimen. Many lifters fight the battle of the belly bulge because they must increase caloric intake in order to build muscle. But studies have shown that the polyphenols in coffee can help you to burn more fat during workouts than those who skip the caffeine, and research indicates that the belly was one of the main areas where fat loss occurred (although further study is needed).
The point is that adding coffee beans or other forms of caffeine to your diet could help you to get the results you want when it comes to your weight training regimen. But as always, you should talk to your doctor before you consider guzzling coffee pre-workout. And you should definitely exercise caution if you’ve had problems with caffeine in the past.