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Should I Drink Coffee Before a Workout? Pros & Cons

Young man having coffee at the gym

Everyone is looking for a leg up during their next workout, and one that comes up quite a bit is drinking coffee before a workout. But is it a good idea, or are you asking for more trouble than it’s worth?

We’ve highlighted some of the different pros and cons of drinking coffee before a workout, but most people agree that it’s a good idea to have a cup or two of coffee before your next workout. We’ll break down everything you need to know here!

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Pros of Drinking Coffee Before a Workout

The results are in, and most experts agree that there are tons of benefits associated with drinking coffee before a workout. But why is that the case, and what kind of benefits can you expect? We’ve highlighted four of the most notable for you below.

1. Enhanced Physical Performance

sporty woman having cup of coffee outdoors
Image Credit: Svitlana Hulko, Shutterstock
Improvement Level: Moderate
Likelihood of Improvement: High

If you use coffee correctly before a workout, it can lead to small to moderate improvements in physical performance. It all comes down to the caffeine in coffee, which is also a common ingredient in pre-workouts.

Whether it’s short bursts or longer physical activities, the right caffeine levels in coffee can lead to overall improvements.

2. Enhanced Cognitive Performance

middle-aged man drinking coffee at home
Image Credit: goodluz, Shutterstock
Improvement Level: Moderate
Likelihood of Improvement: High

Many people drink coffee throughout the day for improved cognitive performance and to help them stay alert. But while that is a beneficial thing for work and other social settings, it can also lead to improvements in the gym.

Whether it’s concentration during your next lift or simply finding the motivation and focus on going to the gym, coffee can be a great option.

3. Increases Caloric Burn

woman in pink shirt running by the sea
Image Credit: Nathan Cowley, Pexels
Improvement Level: High
Likelihood of Improvement: Moderate

If you’re heading to the gym to try and lose weight, drinking a few cups of coffee before you go can help! It’s not all that surprising since many studies link drinking coffee to weight loss and working out helps with that, too.

But what is a bit more surprising is that drinking coffee 20 to 45 minutes before going to the gym can amplify these results. Either way, having a cup before heading out is a good idea!

4. Improves Recovery Time

young woman having coffee after workout
Image Credit: bruce mars, Unsplash
Improvement Level: Moderate
Likelihood of Improvement: Moderate

Are you tired of feeling sore after your trip to the gym? While drinking coffee before your workout won’t eliminate muscle fatigue, it can help your body recover faster. By improving blood flow to your muscles while working out they can recover faster.

This is even though many people lift more weight and complete more sets when they’re working out after drinking coffee.

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Cons of Drinking Coffee Before a Workout

While most experts will agree that it’s generally a good idea to have a cup or two of coffee before your workout, there are a few potential drawbacks you need to keep an eye out for. We’ve highlighted three of them for you to consider here:

1. Upset Stomach

man having stomach pain
Image Credit: Darko Djurin, Pixabay
Risk Level: Low
Likelihood of Risk: Moderate

People with caffeine sensitivities probably shouldn’t drink coffee before working out. One common complaint that people with caffeine sensitivities report is an upset stomach.

When you’re working out, the last thing you want is to need to run to the bathroom over and over again, and that’s certainly a possibility if you’re drinking too much coffee before you hit the gym.

2. Insomnia and Anxiety

sleepless woman in bed
Image Credit: Kinga Cichewicz, Unsplash
Risk Level: Low
Likelihood of Risk: Moderate

Two more issues people with caffeine sensitivities report are insomnia and anxiety. When you’re at the gym, you need to be able to focus on your workout, and sometimes coffee and caffeine can make it harder to concentrate or stay calm.

If you have these problems with caffeine and coffee in other situations, you shouldn’t drink coffee before working out.

3. Rapid Heartbeat

outdoor portrait of a man with heart attack in the park
Image Credit: Mykola Samoilenko, Shutterstock
Risk Level: High
Likelihood of Risk: Moderate

Caffeine and coffee will often increase your heart rate. But while a slight increase in your heart rate isn’t a huge deal, if you consume too much coffee and caffeine, it can lead to a rapid heartbeat, which is a big problem while you’re working out.

Typically, this occurs when you drink too much coffee before a workout, and the solution is to simply drink less instead of cutting it out entirely.

How Much Coffee Should You Drink Before a Workout?

With so many benefits of consuming coffee before a workout, it’s likely something you’ll want to try. But before you go to the gym how much coffee should you drink and when should you drink it?

The answer to how much you should drink comes down to two factors: your current caffeine tolerance and your body weight. According to a study by Nutrients, you typically want to consume between 3 and 6 milligrams of coffee per kilogram of body mass.

Converted to pounds, that equals 1.3 to 2.7 milligrams of coffee per pound of body weight. If you’re not an avid coffee drinker and don’t have a high caffeine tolerance, it’s a good idea to start on the lower end of things and see how it goes.

From there, it’s best to drink your coffee between 25 and 45 minutes before your workout. This gives your body plenty of time to fully absorb the caffeine before you start working out.

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If you like coffee but have never had a cup or two before a workout, we highly recommend trying it out. Don’t drink too much and ease your way into it, but you might just find that you’re getting better results simply by enjoying a cup or two of coffee before your next trip to the gym!

Featured Image Credit: Andrewshots, Shutterstock


Kate MacDonnell

Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

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