Whether you’re a fitness newbie or longtime gym rat, one of the most effective pre-workout drinks is probably going to surprise you. And, believe it or not, you won’t find it on the shelves of your local supplement store. In fact, you don’t even have to scoop it out of a bottle with a flashy label and mix it with water.
All you have to do is swing by a coffee shop and get a cup of America’s favorite drink—minus the cream and sugar. That’s because downing a cup of Joe before your workout doesn’t just give you an added energy boost, there are a whole slew of health benefits—all of which can help maximize your gains in the gym—that come along with it.
Check out these five reasons why it’s time to power up your workout with black coffee.
1. Accelerates fat loss
Perhaps the greatest benefit of having coffee before your workout is its fat-burning properties. Coffee—when consumed before exercise—can cause fat cells to be used as an energy source as opposed to glycogen. Also, the high amounts of caffeine in black coffee will increase your metabolism, which makes you burn more calories throughout the day. Having coffee before exercise enhances that effect.
As a bonus, caffeine and other compounds found in coffee act as an appetite suppressant, making you consume less overall.
2. Increases performance
Several studies have demonstrated a link between caffeine intake before exercise and increased athletic performance. A report published in Sports Medicine refers to caffeine as a “powerful ergogenic aid,” and mentions that athletes can “train at a greater power output and/or train longer.” after caffeine consumption.
Another study published in the British Journal of Sports Science found that subjects who consumed coffee before running 1,500 meters on the treadmill completed their run 4.2 seconds faster on average than the control group.
3. Improves focus
Along with increased energy to push through tough workouts, black coffee also provides an increase in mental focus, keeping your workouts productive and effective.
4. Decreases muscle pain
Researchers at the University of Illinois found that subjects who consumed coffee prior to exercise experienced less muscle pain. during their workout than their non-caffeinated counterparts.
The takeaway? You can complete more reps at a higher resistance during your weight training sessions, as well as run faster and longer during your cardio workouts.
5. Prevents disease
Another advantage of drinking coffee is that it helps protect your body from diseases. Coffee contains high amounts of antioxidants, which protect against damage from free radicals.
According to a 2011 study published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, coffee consumption has an inverse correlation with diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and certain forms of cancer.