Wednesday, 7 December 2016

coffee - a pre-workout kick

Coffee has a ton of health benefits [when consumed in moderation, of course!], but not many people are aware of just how great coffee can be as a pre-workout energy drink - perhaps even better than an 'actual' pre-workout shot [as though you needed another excuse to drink that morning coffee, right?].
So let's begin by addressing a few drawbacks of your pre-workout product;

1. Dehydration
A typical pre-workout contains two key ingredients; caffeine and creatine. Now, whilst you're probably thinking to yourself "so? coffee literally is caffeine" - it's the combination of the two in a single drink or sachet that makes pre-workouts so much more dehydrating than coffee on its own. That said, consuming either requires a certain awareness on your part, so make sure you either carry water with you, or if that isn't possible [running around the city with a huge water bottle? No, thanks], be sure to drink one extra glass than normal after your workout, just to be safe.

2. Price
Let's be honest, pre-workouts in all their forms - pills, powders, shots, drinks - are an investment. And whilst I'm all for investing in a product if it is going to aid your health and/or fitness, in certain cases such as these, the cheaper option seems just as good, if not better. [Not to mention that you can find coffee way more easily than your pre-workout...]

3. Over-Compensation
When you purchase a pill or powder [or anything, really] as your kickstart, you are consuming a pre-measured, pre-determined amount of stimulants. Ideally, we'd like to think that consuming a large quantity of stimulants would simply amp us up to be able to burn it, and a lot more, off through our exercise. [Of course we want to think this; isn't this the point of consuming a pre-workout?]. However, for the average person, this simply isn't the case. Just because you've consumed enough caffeine or creatine to run a marathon, doesn't mean you will. What can all this excess stimulants do? Over time, with regular consumption of these products, you could find yourself with blood pressure issues or kidney damage.* The joy of coffee, however, is that you can know your body and control how many espresso shots you consume in order to correlate your intake with your planned workout.

So now that we have that out of the way - what makes coffee any different?

1. Metabolism Booster
Coffee - especially when consumed black [recommended] - amps up your metabolism, which in the morning before a workout, is a great way to re-start your system for the day after sleeping and lying flat all night. Additionally, the caffeine in black coffee can aid your body in using fat stores as a source of energy as opposed to glycogen or the food you may have eaten late the night before [and isn't that a huge plus for all of us??]

2. Enhanced Focus
Depending on the workout of your choice, focus can be difficult to come by, especially if you choose to workout alone rather than in a big group or class setting. Personally, as someone that enjoys running long distances, I often find that when I don't have coffee or simply run whilst I'm tired, I end up turning home earlier simply out of mental boredom and mental barriers that don't correlate at all with my physical condition. This can be super frustrating if your workouts are cut short due to your mental state as opposed to your actual performance and ability to see the exercise through - consuming a little bit of black coffee around 30 minutes before your workout can clear your mind enough to allow you to not only see your goal, but also to see it through, with greater clarity and determination.

3. Better Blood Flow
When you work out, the oxygen you desperately inhale, be it during aerobic or anaerobic exercise, is what fuels your muscles and allows them to continually contract, performing the exercises demanded of them. This oxygen is transported through your body via the bloodstream - thus, the greater the amount of oxygenated blood flowing through you, the better for your workout. A recent study** found that those who consumed coffee (caffeinated) 30 minutes prior to their workout had a 30% increase in their blood flow over a 75 minute period! This is a huge change in your blood flow, and will make a serious difference to your body and performance both during and after your workout!

The Final Line: Coffee is a great, affordable, accessible and healthy pre-workout, when consumed correctly and in moderation! [I recommend black coffee in the morning - just one cup - to wake you up, but early enough that it doesn't affect your sleep later that night]. As with any supplement, you'll need to do the research and find a balance that works for your body as well as your workout goals - different people react differently, so if you've never had coffee, start small [single-shot] and see how it affects you. Your workouts are about to be a whole lot more intense and effective!




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