Posted by on Jan 11, 2016 in Blog |

The Wonder of Coffee

Benefits of coffeeCoffee has been around for a long time.  The tree has grown in Ethiopia for centuries.  According to legend, one day long ago a goat herder name Kaldi watched his goats eat berries from the tree.  The goats that ate the berries were energized, running around and not sleeping at night.  Kaldi shared his observation with the abbot of a local monastery.

The abbot had to stay up late for prayers so he decided to make a drink from the berries. He found that it kept him awake late into the night and shared it with the other monks.  Over time, the wonder spread to other places.

A Cuppa Joe To Go, Go, Go?

For some people that means a run to the bathroom.  In fact, coffee–or the caffeine in it–is a mild diuretic (causes you to pee) and also a laxative (makes you poop).  Aside from these side effects, what’s the scoop on caffeinated coffee and physical activity?  Are there benefits to drinking coffee prior to exercising?

Apparently there are.

Coffee Before Exercise

In a recent review of literature, drinking coffee before exercise may improve athletic endurance.  According to this report, the amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee is enough.

Of course, sports enthusiasts and high level athletes know that the combination of caffeine and physical activity isn’t big news.  The Olympicsbenefits of coffee banned caffeine from 1984 to 2004 because of its influence on the body. The World Anti-Doping Agency took it off the list because the dosages to enhance performance were about the same as what we get with everyday use (drinking coffee, eating chocolate, etc).  However, the NCAA still banns its use.

The authors of this literature review  set up criteria for the publications they would review.  They “evaluated the effects of caffeinated coffee on human subjects, provided the caffeine dose administered, administered caffeine ≥45 minutes before testing, and included a measure of endurance performance (e.g., time trial).”

(Note, the criteria didn’t include sample size or other important information that gives a clue to the worth of the data.)

Out of 600 studies on caffeine that came up in their search, only 9 met the above criteria. The results? Five of the 9 studies showed a positive effect of coffee on endurance.   In those studies, drinking 3 to 8 mg per kg of body weight led to an increase of 24% on average endurance. The amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee ranges from 75 milligrams to more than 150 milligrams, depending on the type of coffee and the manner in which it is prepared.

In other words, as people have noticed when they are doing boring office work or are just really tired, coffee delays feelings of fatigue, it helps you endure or go farther for a longer period of time.

Other Benefits of Coffee Drinking

Recently the Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (the experts who created the most recent guidelines for people in the US) found that

“moderate coffee consumption is associated with reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in healthy adults. In addition, consistent observational evidence indicates that regular consumption of coffee is associated with reduced risk of cancer of the liver and endometrium, and slightly inverse or null associations are observed for other cancer sites.”

What’s the take away from all this?

benefits of coffee

Image By David Dewitt.

A cup of coffee about an hour before you start exercising may help increase your endurance, but so does proper nutrition, stretching and staying hydrated. Also it is important to discuss with your physician any changes in your intake of coffee, either caffeinated or decaffeinated, and any changes in physical activity, prior to making them.

Go get your cuppa java.