Is Caffeine Good for Working Out?
By far, caffeine is the most popular drug in the world. But is caffeine good for working out? That is the question many lifters would like the answer to.
We drink coffee, cola, tea and energy drinks, so we consume a lot of caffeine everyday. But what do you really know about it? Is it good for working out, and most importantly, good for your health?
I thought it would be a good idea to take a deep look into caffeine and find out whether it is something that is good for you or not. I started doing my research and the first thing I noticed is that there is a lot of conflicting information about this substance. Some say it is good, other say it is bad. So look at the advantages and disadvantages of taking caffeine when working out and then decide for yourself.
The Benefits of Caffeine
Now it is time to take a look at some of the advantages of this popular drug.
1. It makes you feel good – When you develop a slight addiction to caffeine it makes you feel good when you consume it. This is evident in people who drink a lot of coffee. An early morning cup makes them feel great but if they go a day without one they are grumpy and tired. So this benefit is also a negative.
2. It will increase exercise performance – Bodybuilders and many other athletes have been using caffeine for a long time to enhance their training and workouts. While it is usually illegal to use during a sporting even itself, caffeine does provide you with a lot of energy and extra stimulation. It might help you go that little bit farther which is why it’s a popular ingredient in pre workout supplements.
3. It increases mental alertness – If you need to study for exams or work then the stimulants in caffeine can help you stay focussed for longer. It helps you stay attentive and alert but too much can make you feel too awake and agitated.
4. It can help with burning fat – It has been shown for a long time now that caffeine can improve your fat loss results. For example, many bodybuilders will take a caffeine supplement or have a cup of coffee before going to the gym to do their cardio as it can help with the workout. The way it does this is to speed up your metabolism as well as helping to break down the fat itself.
5. Prevents bowel cancer – One of the best benefits of caffeine, however, is that it can help prevent bowel cancer. This is in relation to coffee – it can help you clean out your bowels by making you go to the toilet more; partly due to the diuretic function that it has.
6. Prevents other illnesses – Caffeine in some forms has shown to have a preventative effect for some long term diseases like diabetes and alzheimer’s disease. This is a big bonus for anyone who drinks coffee or tea.
The Disadvantages of Caffeine
Now that we have looked at the advantages of caffeine it is important to look at some of dangers that are associated with this drug.
1. Sleeplessness and anxiety – If you have problems sleeping or are highly stressed then too much caffeine is a bad idea. This relates to the stimulant effect that caffeine has one the body – it wakes everything up.
2. It can increase blood pressure – If you have heart problems then this drug isn’t a good idea (nor is any drug for that matter!). It has been shown to increase blood pressure as well as speeding up the heart rate.
3. It is addictive – The bad thing about drugs is that they are addictive. Once your body gets used to a certain amount it needs more to stay happy. This is the same with caffeine. Many people start off drinking a cup of coffee in the morning but after a while they need one at lunch and in the afternoon as well. Soon they need more then two or three cups during the day just to function properly. It would be a more healthful approach to fuel your body with nutrients instead of stimulants.
4. It comes in bad foods – Think about the times when you consume caffeine. Usually it is a coffee with cream and two sugars, a can of Coke filled with more sugar than you care to think about or in chocolate where, again, the fat and sugar is a worry. This is a serious downside to caffeine, more often then not it’s associated with the foods you want to try and avoid.
5. It can be detrimental to building lean muscle – Excessive caffeine consumption can increase cortisol levels in the body, placing it in a catabolic state. This is the oppositive of what you are trying to acheive if you want to gain muscle weight.
6. It’s easier then you think to overdose on caffeine – Caffeine is not just in coffee. You will find it in teas, chocolate, and many soft drinks/energy drinks. While you think you may only be drinking two cups per day, you may in fact be consuming a lot more.
Like anything that we consume it is important to do it in moderation. If you are drinking more than two to three cups of coffee per day it is likely that it’s doing more harm then good. If your goal is to gain weight then you should try and minimize caffeine intake whenever possible.
However, I don’t see it as being a huge problem if you occasionally consume a strong coffee in the morning or have a pre workout supplement with caffeine to get a better workout.
Due to the diuretic effect it can have it would be a good idea to consume water when you are drinking coffee to prevent dehydration.