There have been many studies on the subject of caffeine and exercise, and it turns out caffeine enhances your body’s performance and speeds up muscle recovery! I am not a caffeine consumer, and this info probably won’t make me one either, but I know most of you out there are, so now you have a good excuse to consume your caffeine fix!
Studies show that caffeine ingestion prior to exercising extends endurance in moderately strenuous aerobic activity. Other studies researching caffeine consumption on elite athletes show increased performance times following caffeine consumption.
But… before you make Starbucks part of your pre-workout warm-up be aware that:
Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system and can produce restlessness, headaches, and irritability. Caffeine also elevates your heart rate and blood pressure. Over the long-term as your body gets used to caffeine, it requires higher amounts to get the same effects.
Caffeine is also a diuretic and causes a loss of fluid, which then leads to a dehydrating effect. This effect of caffeine and exercise is obviously not conducive to fitness activities such as resistance training, as fluid is needed for the transfer of nutrients to facilitate muscular growth. It is also important when considering the further loss of fluid while exercising in hot environments.
The most important long-term problem is the effect of caffeine on sleep. The life of caffeine in the body is about 6 hours. Even though you may be able to fall asleep, you may not be able to obtain the restful benefits of a deep sleep. And a cycle develops as you may use more and more caffeine in hopes of counteracting this deficit.
The American Heart Association says that moderate coffee drinking (one or two cups per day) does not seem to be harmful for most people. As with everything else, moderation is the key to healthy caffeine consumption.