Can Caffeine Boost Your Workout?

At the end of a long work day, it's understandable that you may need a pick-me-up prior to heading to the gym or hitting the pavement for a jog. You may feel inclined to grab a quick cup of coffee or down an energy drink before you leave the office in order to give yourself the kick you need to make it through your workout.

The Upsides to Caffeine

An article published by the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism provides interesting insight. The article concludes that caffeine can benefit a "range of sports, including endurance events, stop-and-go events, and sports involving sustained high-intensity activity lasting from 1-60 minutes."

But the advantages of a pre-workout pick-me-up doesn't end there. A study conducted by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and published in International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that ingesting caffeine before exercise can reduce pain and fatigue during a workout.

The Downsides to Caffeine

With every yin, there's a yang, and so it is for the effects caffeine can have on exercise. Because caffeine is a mild diuretic, there is the risk of becoming dehydrated. What's more, caffeine can cause the large intestine to contract resulting in cramps or even diarrhea. Both side effects can cripple a workout.

Using Caffeine Effectively

In order to utilize the supplement in a way that will benefit you the most, be sure to:

  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day to negate any dehydrating effects.
  • Limit your caffeine consumption throughout the day to make your body more sensitive to the supplement's effects.
  • Ingest caffeine a few hours prior to working out.
  • Be sure to hydrate during and after exercise.




Burke LM. Caffeine and sports performance. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2008 Dec;33(6):1319-34.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Caffeine Reduces Pain During Exercise, Study Shows." ScienceDaily, 30 Mar. 2009. Web. 6 Feb. 2012.