Should You Drink Coffee Before Exercising?

Some people drink coffee before exercising in the belief that it enhances exercise performance. Is it true?

Are you a fitness buff with a taste for Starbuck’s lattes? So you’re in the habit of stopping by the coffee shop before heading to the health club. Have you ever stopped to consider the effect that cup of piping hot java might have on your exercise performance? Should you drink coffee before exercise?

Drinking Coffee Before Exercise: Does It Increase Performance?

Some studies have shown that drinking coffee before exercise can enhance exercise performance, particularly for endurance events such as longer distance running. Not all studies have shown a benefit though. A recent, well publicized study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology showed that even moderate amounts of caffeine, the equivalent of two cups of coffee, can impair athletic performance. It seems that the caffeine in coffee alters the amount of blood flow that reaches the heart during an exercise session. Normally, blood flow to the heart increases with exercise, but when caffeine tablets were given to athletes, this increase in blood flow was reduced, meaning less oxygen and nutrients were reaching the heart muscle.

Drinking Coffee Before Exercise: Could It Spell Trouble?

This effect of caffeine on blood flow to the heart is important not only for exercise performance, but could be problematic for those who have underlying heart disease or high blood pressure. The combination of caffeine and exercise raises the heart rate and significantly increases the body’s demands for oxygen. When this need isn’t met, the result can be lightheadedness or even serious changes in heart rhythm.

What About the Nay Sayers?

Despite this, many people still believe that drinking coffee before exercise helps them to exercise longer and harder. Some people who drink coffee before exercise feel more focused due to the effects of caffeine; and there’s some evidence that caffeine can reduce fatigue allowing a person to exercise longer. The effects of caffeine on sports performance may vary depending upon the individual and the amount of caffeine consumed, making it difficult to generalize. Nevertheless, it would be wise to avoid drinking coffee before exercise particularly if you have hypertension or are at an increased risk of heart disease.

What About Other Caffeine Sources?

Many fitness experts recommend green tea as a substitute for sports drinks because the catechins appear to reduce some of the oxidative stress associated with intense exercise. There does seem to be some credibility to this; but it would be safest to drink green tea in a decaffeinated form for the health of your heart.

Another Reason Not to Drink Coffee Before Exercise

A final disadvantage of drinking coffee before exercise is its mild diuretic effect. Although it may not have an enormous impact on hydration, it can increase urine flow which may be an inconvenience if you’re on a long distance run with no access to a bathroom.

The bottom line? It’s best not to drink coffee before exercise. Stick with water, sugar-free fruit juice or caffeine-free sports drinks for longer exercise sessions. It’s the safest bet.

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  1. Thanks for the informative article. Well done.

  2. Thanks, I always wondered about this. My habit is to have morning coffee then go work out…no more.

  3. A beautiful article, packed full of information about the effects of coffee. I stopped drinking coffee a long time ago and replaced it with green mint tea (no milk) and 1 spoon of brown crystal sugar. nonetheless, as a rare treat i drink black coffee and when i do, i really appreciate the flavour. I also agree 100% that anyone who excercises should stick to plain water at best and in sips, sitting down. Thank you very much for all the invaluable advice.

  4. very useful info… i drink coffee before taking my morning jog. now i know i shouldn’t.

  5. i like the article. very informative. i am a coffee addict too and yes, its my habit before working out. now i know better.


    nay sayers are right, actually. if you don’t like coffee, then find caffeine some other way, period.

  7. I disagrees with the statement, first drinking coffee on a moderate level will help you if your planing to work out on a day you feel lazy! Even though it might slightly decreases the amount of oxygenated blood reaching your heart ,your body has built in buffer mechanism that will allow as to breath faster and consume more oxygen to meet this demand and making your heart muscle more stronger. Thus its safe unless you are really aged and have high blood pressure , cholesterol and other health problems.Well lol if you have such problems intense work out is not a good idea anyway. Anyways coffee will also make you burn fat more efficiently. Its diuretic effect might be a small problem for outdoor runners because it makes you want to pee, but over all its good . It will also allow quick filtration of liquid cleaning your blood quickly as you exercise( must drink lots of mineral water). All you have to do is hydrate your self more frequently with water . Coffee has hundreds of important chemicals that are not yet discovered but some of the importance is in boosting your memory, antioxidant etc….

  8. and yes always eat something small when drinking coffee. Dont drink on empty stomach . dont have time to explain lol

  9. Green tea is not as safe as you think, you will lost your sight quickly if you are heavy drinker. It depletes very important nutrients for your eye. Some doctor who works in the white house told this same message to the presidents wife .

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