On your marks, get set, coffee!

Whiskey Infused Irish Beanco Coffee - styled

Are you training for your first 5k or perhaps even a virtual marathon?
Well, a cup of coffee might just give you that extra bit of energy you need.

According to a systematic review of Southward et al., 2018, caffeine can be used as an effective ergogenic aid to enhance endurance or aerobic sports. Caffeine is a stimulant found in coffee, tea and cacao plants. In short, it stimulates your brain and central nervous system, which help you stay alert and to feel less tired.

How much should I consume?

Caffeine has consistently been shown to enhance exercise performance when doses of 3-6 mg/kg body mass are consumed.  This means that if you weigh around 60 kg you may benefit from a range of 180mg – 360mg of caffeine. Basically, a double shot americano or a large filter coffee.

This much caffeine in coffee

Filter coffee: average of 145 mg caffeine
Espresso shot: 63 mg (more or less)
Americano: between 94-150 mg for a single shot
Drip coffee: 95-200 mg caffeine, give or take


It is advised to consume your coffee 1 hour before you exercise. However, it is still debateable whether coffee consumption will enhance your exercise performance if you are a frequent coffee consumer. Maybe something you can investigate yourself?

A few things to consider…

+Do not over consume! The recommended daily allowance, meaning it is not wise to consume more than recommended, of caffeine intake is currently 400 mg per day for healthy adults. That is approximately 4 small cups of brewed coffee.  
+Too much caffeine has severe health implications!
+I am sure all runners, especially women, know how annoying it can be to be in a middle of a race and suddenly have to go to the bathroom… Well, caffeine may have a diuretic effect, meaning it may cause you to urinate more frequently than when you are not drinking coffee/caffeine. It is therefore important to experiment with drinking coffee first during exercise to establish if drinking coffee is enhancing your performance (or not).

Fun coffee facts alert!

Coffee beans and caffeine variety

Different coffee beans have natural different levels of caffeine. Robusta coffee beans have about twice as much caffeine as Arabica coffee beans. If you’re drinking an instant coffee, it’s probably the higher-caffeine Robusta coffee bean.

What about the roast level?

A common mistake people make, and one which usually leave coffee snobs with rolling eyes, is that darker coffee roasts have more caffeine due to the stronger flavor. Well, wrong! Lighter roasted beans contain more caffeine than darker or medium roasted beans. This is because the prolonged heat exposure in darker roasted beans breaks down the caffeine molecule.

And what about the coffee grind?

The finer the coffee grind, the higher the coffee’s caffeine level. Coffee beans with a coarse grind have the least caffeine.

Resources

  1. Guest NS, VanDusseldorp TA, Nelson MT, Grgic J, Schoenfeld BJ, Jenkins NDM, Arent SM, Antonio J, Stout JR, Trexler ET, Smith-Ryan AE, Goldstein ER, Kalman DS, Campbell BI. International society of sports nutrition position stand: caffeine and exercise performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2021 Jan 2;18(1):1. doi: 10.1186/s12970-020-00383-4. PMID: 33388079; PMCID: PMC7777221.
  2. Southward K, Rutherfurd-Markwick KJ, Ali A. The Effect of Acute Caffeine Ingestion on Endurance Performance: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Med. 2018 Aug;48(8):1913-1928. doi: 10.1007/s40279-018-0939-8. Erratum in: Sports Med. 2018 Aug 9;: PMID: 29876876.

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