Is Coffee Good For Runners?

Most of the runners I know love their coffee, but is it a good thing to drink before a race?  I have read articles that praise the effect of caffeine on a runners performance and I have read articles on how many things can go wrong if you drink coffee on race morning.  So…..which is it?  Good or Bad?  I did a little research and this is what I found:

 

The caffeine found in coffee improves performance

It improves mental alertness and increases fat utilization by increasing the number of fatty acids in the blood stream – this can increase the speed at which your body can convert fat to energy

 

It can improve your 5k time

Researchers used a 5k as a test run and found that caffeine users improved their time by 1.0-1.1%. While this is only a small improvement, a runner could possibly shave a few seconds off of their time. As a matter of fact, 2/3 Olympic Athletes use caffeine to boost performance.

 

Caffeine + carbohydrates decreases recovery time

The caffeine found in coffee combined with carbohydrates rebuilds glycogen stores up to 66% more than a drink with just carbohydrates – anyone up for a mocha?

 

Dehydration

Yes, caffeine is a diuretic, but when used in moderation it is fine to drink before exercise.  Studies show that runners can have up to 550 milligrams of caffeine (about 4-5 cups of coffee) without affecting hydration.

 

Reasons not to drink coffee before a run

  • If you are not used to it, coffee can cause headaches and give you the jitters
  • If you have heart conditions or high blood pressure, coffee before a workout may not be a good idea so make sure you check with your doctor first.
  • If you have stomach issues, coffee may not be a good plan – nobody wants to deal with stomach distress on a run!

 

The verdict

If your stomach can handle it, drink up!  But as always, NEVER TRY ANYTHING NEW ON RACE DAY so be sure to use coffee in your training!

 

 

Sources

http://www.ncbi.nim.nih.gov/pubmed/17544329

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21854160

http://www.runnersconnect.net/running-nutrition-articles/caffeine-and-running/

http://adventure.howwtuffworks.com/outdoor-activities/running/health/coffee-bad-for-distance-runners.htm

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