Does Coffee Turn You Into a Cardio BEAST?

You've probably been hopped up on one cup of coffee too many and thought to yourself, man, if only there was some way I could burn off this energy!

And whether you did so by going to the gym, or just sat there shaking like a wet cat, it may have made you wonder whether cardio is BETTER on caffeine…


More to the point, is being caffeinated or even over-caffeinated good for workouts, or bad?

Today, I answer the question of whether caffeine gives you the energy to push yourself on a workout, and whether there are any side effects to shooting up with coffee beans!!

Although there isn't a lot of research done yet on coffee/caffeine helping workouts, early research does show it's a good idea! This is because, as you probably know, your muscles are filled with glycogen, the storage form of glucose. And when your muscles burn up all your glycogen for energy, that's when you feel fatigued and your muscles feel sore.

So of course I'm all about ways to prevent this burnout, and one of the best ways is getting your muscles to burn FAT instead of glycogen.

Hey, burning fat for fuel, that certainly is a familiar theme in my work, isn't it? 😉

If you've been following me for any length of time, then you know I talk about burning fat for fuel in relation to intermittent fasting, because when you haven't eaten for around 8 to 12 hours, your body has burned up stored glucose, and starts to burn fat instead.

So yeah, that's something we all want anyway, and it can be encouraged not only through intermittent fasting but also eating a high-fat, low-carb diet. Fat for fuel!

But I bet you didn't know that coffee consumption encourages your body to switch from glycogen to fat, even when there's still glycogen left over. And again, this is really good during a workout, because you leave some glycogen in your muscles and you can go on burning fat, which is a slow-burning, long-lasting fuel. Perfect for workouts!

In that sense, I would actually encourage you to do all three things:

1. Try FASTED workouts and see how they work for you;
2. Eat higher – fat low-carb;
3. And consume some caffeine before workouts;
all encouraging you to switch over to fat burning, which in the case of workouts means your muscles are slower to fatigue.

Awesome! Now that you know the benefits are there, you're probably wondering how to maximize them. When should you drink your coffee relative to starting your workout? And how much?

Unfortunately, the answers to those questions are still inconclusive with research.

And researchers also still aren't sure how long it takes for caffeine to induce your muscles to SWITCH from using glycogen to burning fat. So that means in some cases, your muscles still could be depleted of glycogen and you're going to be sore the next day. But that's not anything you're not used to dealing with anyway!!

As for when to ingest caffeine relative to your workout, that's a question we can somewhat answer just based on knowing the effects of caffeine in general. It takes about an hour to start kicking in, and then the following 3 to 6 hours is when its effects are at its peak.

For many of us, this won't change our behavior because we were already having a cup of Morning Joe before our workout anyway. And I'm not saying you should have 4 cups or anything like that! Everyone's coffee sensitivity is different, and you certainly don't want to feel jittery or sick during your workout.

If coffee was your reason for dragging your butt out of bed in the morning, now you know you've been doing the right thing! But hey, you know, a morning workout is a great reason to drag yourself out of bed in the morning too! 😉