Calling all angelic beings who rise at dawn to exercise. What is your secret?
A bedtime before 9pm? Magic beans in your salad?
Or a regular cup of joe?
While there are many known benefits to the daily brew, when it comes to working out, just how helpful is the caffeinated stuff?
“A lot of people naturally struggle with getting themselves up for a workout in the morning -- so a coffee beforehand can certainly help,” Blake Worrall-Thompson, personal trainer and founder of Wellbeing by Blake told The Huffington Post Australia.
But is a hit of caffeine simply a placebo -- or does it mean you’ll actually get a better workout in?
Nutritionist Zoe Bingley Pullin was quick to bust the myth that caffeine gives you energy -- and promotes the importance of good quality food before your morning espresso.
“Caffeine does not give you energy. What it does is increase adrenaline -- they are two different things,” Bingley Pullin told HuffPost Australia.
Most of us have a perception that a boost of adrenaline is actually energy -- which is why many of us reach for the java when we feel an afternoon slump coming on.
Coffee's impact on athletic performance is nothing new, with many studies showing caffeine increases the number of fatty acids circulating in the bloodstream (therefore increasing endurance) but Bingley Pullin warned there was a downside to the spike.
"While adrenaline will give you the ability to exercise harder, the ramification is that caffeine is actually a diuretic -- so it is a bit of a catch-22,” Bingley Pullin said.
This means you need a constant supply of fluids and water within the body to nourish your muscles correctly and maintain good energy levels -- particularly if you are exercising for longer periods.
While Worrall-Thompson agreed there was sometimes a slightly higher level of energy within his coffee drinking clients, he didn’t advocate relying on stimulants to get you to the gym. Nor did he believe it equated to a better performance.
“Something like a short black isn’t the end of the world, it’s certainly better than some of the pre-workout formulas out there, but I’m looking for clients to naturally source their own energy from their environment -- and a lot of that has to do with your mental state,” Worrall-Thompson said.
Bingley Pullin agreed there were much better things than caffeine and pre-workout formulas to prepare you for a workout.
“The most effective thing you can do before a workout is hydrate and have some food -- an apple, some strawberries -- choose low-GI options that will give you sustained energy,” Bingley Pullin said.
But if a morning cup is non-negotiable, Bingley Pullin urges the importance of having a little bit of food together with your coffee which will help to slow the release of the caffeine.
“Don’t go and have a long black the first thing you wake up. It has a very similar effect as sugar, which means you will be on that rollercoaster right from the beginning of the day,” Bingley Pullin said.
If you’re someone that feels sick upon eating at such an early hour and as a result tends to reach for the coffee instead, hydration (before the latte) is a must.
“Make sure you’ve got food ready and waiting for you the moment you finish your workout,” Bingley Pullin said.
“Over and above, food is the best source of energy -- good quality nutritional food."
Worrall-Thompson said you’re not always going to feel completely energised all the time.
“Which is why it’s important to look at other areas of your lifestyle including your sleeping patterns, diet and overall health in order to get the most out of your workout,” Worrall-Thompson said.
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