Black Coffee Before Workout: Is it cool to have an Espresso before you exercise?

Black Coffee Before Workout

I completed 30 full days of conscious exercise on the 9th September 2017. It was kind of a great deal, especially since I had no regular schedule for almost half a year straight. So, while there are 3 more months to end the year of 2017, the goal really is to fight tooth and nail for a consistent workout schedule, reduce the visceral / belly fat & finish a 10k marathon run.

By the way, I wrote an article about Why it is important to lose the belly fat & How it is a measure of good health.  I also finished my first ever 5k run earlier in September & Here’s my experience on how you can train for your own 5k in 21 days.

So, on the evening of 8th of September, I decided to prepare myself in advance for the next day. I also decided that along with an HIIT workout, it would be a great day to begin some weight training & train the chest-shoulder-triceps muscle group. I workout at 6 am in the morning each day. So, to make sure that optimum energy levels are maintained throughout the session, I began looking for some solutions.

A friend who has been doing the drill for years now suggested that black coffee works excellently to keep the energy levels high for an early morning workout. So that’s what I tried.

About 15-20 minutes before the workout began, I made myself one mug of black coffee & left for the gym. The effect kicked in for another 15-20 minutes and by the time the workout began, I was feeling energetic and active than most of the days!

How does Caffeine keep us awake?

So, What is the magic about Black Coffee at all?  Here’s a nice video from Ted-Talks that talks about why Caffeine is successful in keeping us awake:

Caffeine which is found in many of the popular beverages around the world is found in the largest concentration in a cup of black espresso coffee. It is also found in Tea, Cola beverages, Cocoa, and chocolate. It is naturally available in over 60 plants around the world. The bees consume Caffeine when they search for nectar in the flowers & research says that this caffeine helps the bees to remember the flowers well.

Caffeine stimulates the Central Nervous System of your body and therefore causes excitement and euphoria, reduces the sense of pain and hence aids an high-intensity workout.

From the moment you take the first sip of your mug of black coffee, Caffeine is rapidly absorbed into your blood stream via the membranes through the lining of mouth, throat and the stomach. In about 45 minutes after the first sip, almost 99% of caffeine is absorbed by the body. Since the half-life of Caffeine in humans is almost 4-6 hours, that’s how long your cup of Coffee can help you stay active. However, based on the frequency and volume of consumption, this may differ for each person.

How is Caffeine absorbed into your body?

As soon as the Caffeine enters the bloodstream, Your liver begins to metabolize (digest) it into theophylline, theobromine, and paraxanthine. These chemicals then travel throughout be bloodstream to the entire body and affect various body functions.

The Theophylline contributes by relaxing the smooth muscles & so a person having ingested caffeine needs to use the bathroom as it is affecting the muscles in the colon. Theobromine, on the other hand, contributes by increasing the amount of oxygen and nutrients that can be used by your brain and the muscles. The more oxygen in your body during the exercise, the better is the output of the body itself. Probably this is one reason why Caffeine helps.

How does Caffeine interact in the Brain?

The molecular unit of energy in biological systems is Adenosine triphosphate (ATP). When your body needs energy at the cellular level, the ATP molecule is broken down into Adenosine and three phosphoral groups. The chemical structure of the Adenosine and Caffeine molecules is similar. Your brain has Adenosine receptors. When enough number of Adenosine molecules activate these receptors, the brain signals the body to rest or to sleep through the nervous system. On the other hand, if enough Caffeine molecules get lodged into the Adenosine receptors of the brain, they inhibit or prevent the adenosine molecules from making you feel drowsy or sleepy. As Adenosine accumulates in the blood stream, it triggers the Adrenal glands to release Adrenaline into the blood which provides energy for the workout and also keeps the body alert.

How does Caffeine exit from the body?

The Kidneys which are the filters of your body, filter the Caffeine out of the system. Since Caffeine has been known to be a diuretic, it might also cause you to use the washroom more often. It is therefore recommended to keep on sipping on water as you progress with a high-intensity exercise.  With no Caffeine in the bloodstream to keep you active, it might also induce feelings of sudden lethargy as well. The body adapts well to the levels of Caffeiene. So if a cup of coffee was enough earlier to get you active, an overdose of caffeine might increase your caffeine requirements in the day & thereby put you into a viscious cycle.

This brings us to the next part in this article:

How much Caffeine is safe for consumption?

A tea spoon of coffee (4.9 g) provides 2 mg of Caffeine to the body. On the other hand, the amount of hot water you use to mix this tea spoon of coffee will contribute to the taste itself. More water will mean less bitter and less water will mean more bitter. According to Mayo Clinic, about 400 mg of caffeine intake on a daily basis is permissible for most of the adults.

Caffeine per cup of a beverage

Here’s a chart above to give you an idea of how much Caffeine is present in your favorite beverage. So, as a ball-park four cups of coffee, a day will take you to the brink of your daily permissible limit. However, if your cup of coffee is causing any of these symptoms including – Restlessness, Irritability, Stomach upset, Insomnia or headaches, You might want to cut down on your coffee intake per day.

By definition, Caffeine is still a stimulant to your Central Nervous system. So, I would recommend limiting the use of Caffeine only to help you increase the intensity of your workout. Moreover, based on the goals you have set for your body, if you have reached a certain level of muscle strength, You may completely discontinue using Coffee as a pre-work out drink too.

How much Caffeine by the time of workout?

If you prefer to workout in the evening, You may want to reduce the amount of coffee per cup or completely eliminate it. Since the half-life of your Coffee drink is almost 4-6 hours, You might compromise on a good night’s sleep if you have too much of Caffeine. If you are working out in the morning, a tea spoon of instant Coffee per cup can do the trick.

How do you make a cup of Black Coffee?

Here’s the last part of this article. I am leaving you with a video on how to make your own cup of Black Coffee before your work out.

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