What should you drink before you go on that ambitious morning run? Sure, water’s always good, but what you should really be guzzling, according to new research, is coffee.
That’s right: another reason consuming that caffeine. Past studies have suggested that coffee could help fight cancer, be good for your heart, and improve men’s sex lives. Now, a review of over 600 studies, recently published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, found that drinking coffee may actually improve athletic endurance.
Of these studies, nine randomized control trials specifically used coffee to improve endurance. In the trials, participants either cycled or ran after drinking coffee. They then exercised vigorously and the results were measured.
Simon Higgins, a doctoral student in kinesiology at the University of Georgia who conducted the review, found that coffee consumption in athletes improved their performance an average of 24% from doses including 3-7 milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of body weight. At the lower end of the scale, that’s about 190 milligrams of caffeine, or more than a cup and a half of most coffees, for a 140-pound woman.
So, basically, a can of spinach is to Popeye as a cup of coffee is to us non-cartoon people.
Higgins notes, however, that more research is needed on the use of caffeine from coffee versus pure caffeine use. Because taking a caffeine pill may be just as effective as a cup of coffee when it comes to athletic endurance.
But bear in mind that while physical performance may be improved by coffee, mental endurance might not fare as well under caffeine’s influence. Past studies have shown that introverted people — and those more prone to anxiety — have a harder time focusing on the task at hand after drinking coffee than extraverts.
So if you’re an anxious person, you might want to cool it on the caffeine front; but if coffee doesn’t give you the jitters, then try drinking some before your next run. We’d love to hear whether or not it turns you into Speedy Gonzales.