As we look to beat our personal best and smash our goals there are a variety of go-to options that can help us achieve our aims. From the latest workout gear and personal training tips to nutrition advice, there are a myriad of options out there to help you improve your workout.
So where does coffee play a role? If we start with the obvious it’s that caffeine brings you energy, the energy to start your day, beat your last session or run just a little longer and faster. That's why sports drinks contain a high amount of caffeine to keep you going. Yet coffee also has lesser known effects on your workout, it's even beneficial after you have finished your session to aid your recovery. Your morning go-to actually contains secret advantages which can improve your weekly training routine and alter how your body adapts to new challenges. We take a look at just how and why coffee can help you in the gym by offering more than just a quick hit of energy.
Just what exactly are the benefits of drinking coffee after a workout?
The science behind how caffeine works is that once consumed caffeine blocks an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the body called adenosine. This increases the firing of neurons and releases dopamine and norepinephrine, the feel good hormones allowing you to feel alert and awake. This is why it’s so effective in the morning on your day to day or even after your hardest session, by stimulating your muscles.
Studies have shown that caffeine contains more than just a boost, it can increase your metabolic rate, aid muscle recovery and increase fat burning, which is key if you are exercising to lose weight. While your go-to should always be water to ensure you remain hydrated post sweat, it’s more than ok to drink caffeine after workout, in fact it can help with the following three points:
Increases calorie burn
Coffee stimulates fat loss by increasing your metabolic rate. The rate at which you burn calories when you aren’t working out is called resting metabolic rate (RMR) and this differs between people depending on their weight, biology and how active they are. The higher your metabolic rate, the easier it is for you to lose weight, which means your body burns more calories no matter how much exercise you undertake. Some studies show that caffeine can increase RMR by 3–11%, with stronger coffee and high caffeine providing better results, no matter when you drink it! A shot of espresso or a long black after your workout provides a boost to your RMR, adding extra leverage to your workout results for hours after you have actually finished your workout.
This helps for a quicker recovery, especially in your muscles and is great for athletes. This is particularly important if you have just finished a bodybuilding session or class focusing on a specific set of muscles, to recover as fast as you can and decrease any build up of lactic acid. Drinking coffee is so beneficial after a workout as it can help refuel muscles and recover quickly from rigorous exercising by increasing the speed of glycogen. Glycogen, which serves as the muscle's primary fuel source during exercise, is replenished more rapidly when you ingest both carbohydrate (eg.bananas) and caffeine after vigorous exercise, thus improving their performance.
Yet how exactly does it speed this process up? To get into the technical details, studies have shown that a coffee post workout provides an increase in the enzyme AMP kinase. AMPK (AMP-activated protein kinase) is already elevated after a strenuous workout. That means that, right after a workout, your muscles naturally contract, which triggers the enzymatic pathway to allow more glucose into the muscle. As it is already naturally heightened post workout, adding caffeine to the equation increases your AMPK even more. Caffeine provided by coffee provides an extra boost for a quicker muscle recovery than usual - bonus!
Helps mobilise fats
Caffeine stimulates the nervous system, which sends direct signals to the fat cells, telling them to break down fat. This is particularly great post-workout, for more rapid breakdowns. Caffeine actually does this by increasing blood levels of the hormone epinephrine, (also known as adrenaline). This hormone travels through your blood to the fat tissues, signaling them to break down fats and release them into your blood, excelling weight loss and promoting inner body health, after all we don’t want any excess fat storing itself around our organs. A major positive point of coffee, which prevents future health risks.
Whether you opt for black coffee after your workout or mix with dairy, almond, or oat milk for example, you will still feel the benefits and it won’t affect how the caffeine is absorbed. If you’re looking for a maximum effect, look for a high caffeine content for that strong hit. Caffeine levels can also depend on your taste levels, that is why we created our gymBrew coffee, It's a small batch and hand roasted strong coffee with tasting notes of caramel with chocolate. These medium / dark roasted beans come from fully traceable, ethical Rainforest Alliance farms and offer low acidity. With workouts in mind we crafted out gymbrew for athletes, hikers and everything in between. We’re especially proud to share that our gymBrew caffeine is lab tested against more than a dozen coffees - 180mg per 100ml, roughly 50% stronger than your average brew. That means more post-workout caffeine benefits without any compromise on taste.
Find out more and explore our range here.
Please note: caffeine, as well as exercise, may be dehydrating, so drink plenty of water also to replenish your system.