Coffee has long been the go-to pre-workout drink for the gym-goers of the world. Whether looking to crank out one last rep or make that final push at the end of a run, coffee has been the long-prescribed fuel to help push folks past their athletic limits. It’s actual efficacy, though, hasn’t ever really been proven scientifically. But a new study has found one workout-related effect of a pre-workout coffee, specifically caffeinated coffee: it can help increase aerobic exercise’s fat-burning ability.
Published recently in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, the new study was undertaken by researchers from the Department of Physiology of the University of Granada. Per Science Daily, the researchers were looking to better understand the relationship between caffeine and fat oxidation (more commonly referred to as “fat-burning”) during exercise. For the study, 15 participants—all male with an average age of 32—were tasked with performing an exercise test a total of four times each at seven-day intervals. The four tests were performed under different conditions, at either 8:00am or 5:00pm and 30 minutes after ingesting 3mg/kg caffeine or a similarly sized placebo; the order of the tests were randomized for the each of the participants.
When examining the findings, researchers found that, regardless of when during the day the exercise was performed, “acute caffeine ingestion 30 minutes before performing an aerobic exercise test increased maximum fat oxidation.” Further, the study found the highest efficacy of fat oxidation in the afternoon workout after caffeine consumption; the AM-with-coffee workouts had similar results to those of the PM-without-coffee workouts.
So, while there are a million different reasons folks exercise beyond shedding a few pounds and weight loss is in no way synonymous with health, if you are a person looking to supercharge the fat-burning properties of your workouts, have a nice afternoon cup of the good stuff a half hour before exercising.