Coffee: To Drink Or Not To Drink

keurig coffee reviews

I have written about coffee in the past and recently came across this article written by Matt Fitzgerald for that added to my knowledge and thoughts of coffee and more specifically caffeine.

Before I get into Matt’s article you can read my writings [HERE] and [HERE]  Let me also say that I enjoy coffee and drink a cup of caffeinated coffee before each morning workout.  After that cup is gone I switch to decaf because I love the taste of coffee and because I don’t see a need for a jolt since I am typically in hyperdrive after my endorphins are exploding following my workout.

As is customary practice I want to present to you what I deem are the highlights of the article, but suggest you read it for yourself to get the full scope of what is being written.

“Acute caffeine consumption”—the scientific term for drinking a cup of coffee—has been shown to enhance mental alertness and mood state and is also known to boost athletic performance.  “Chronic caffeine consumption”—the scientific term for drinking a cup of coffee every morning—has been associated with a reduced risk for a number of disorders including type 2 diabetes, gallstones, and Parkinson’s disease. Not too shabby.

I would label myself as a chronic caffeine consumer since I drink a cup every morning.  My consumption occurs approximately two hours before my training starts so that I can get the benefits of the jolt while training and also to ensure that any issues related to my GI are gone before my training starts.

Research has shown that pre-exercise caffeine enhances performance in sprints, in all-out efforts lasting four to five minutes, and in prolonged endurance activities. In shorter events, caffeine apparently increases muscle recruitment, which ultimately boosts performance. In longer events, it delays fatigue by reducing the athlete’s perception of effort. Caffeine does this by increasing the concentration of hormone-like substances in the brain called ß-endorphins during exercise. The endorphins affect mood state, reduce the perception of pain, and create a sense of well-being.

But here’s the catch—and it’s a big one: Caffeine only aids the performance of athletes who do not habitually use caffeine. So if you are a regular coffee drinker and want to benefit from a caffeine boost, you need to cut out the caffeine for one week before a big race

I have an Olympic distance race (Austin Triathlon) coming up on Labor Day and I am going to put this notion of cutting out the caffeine for a week prior to the race to the test.  My only question is that if the caffeine affects my mood will I be too much to handle between taper and no caffein?  There is also a prescribed amount to drink and that amount is: 5 to 6 milligrams per kilogram of body weight.  For a 150-lb person that translates to roughly 340-400 mg, or the amount of caffeine you’d get in 14 to 17 ounces of drip brewed coffee.  Since I only drink approximately 8oz of caffeinated coffee in the morning I am nervous that 14 to 17 oz will cause some major GI issues.

Researchers found that the rate at which the consumed carbohydrates were burned was 26 percent higher in the cyclists receiving carbs with caffeine than in those receiving carbs without caffeine.  Based on these results, athletes might want to consider consuming caffeine along with a sports drink during races or long training sessions instead of dosing up beforehand, since taking in caffeine both before and during a race or workout would be excessive and could lead to nervousness, anxiety, and stomach upset.

So now the idea of taking the caffeine in during a race as opposed to drinking coffee on the morning of race day has me questioning the notion that this caffeine could have an adverse affect on my GI during the race.  My other issue is that First Endurance Liquid Shot does not have caffeine so trying to add another caffeine source is not practical.  I will most likely stick to drinking my cup of coffee in the morning.

A recent study from the University of Georgia found that pre-exercise caffeine intake reduced post-exercise muscle soreness by 50 percent. This is another effect that is unlikely to be felt by regular caffeine users, however. So again, wean yourself off caffeine for one week before big races or an important marathon training run, dose up that morning, and expect to not only perform better but also to experience faster muscle recovery afterward.

This was a true eye-opener in that I always focused on and thought of caffeine from the perspective of during a training session or race and not the post race/training benefits.  If your muscle soreness is truly reduced by 50 percent there is no reason to not drink coffee or take in some sort of caffeine prior.  Most of us endurance athletes don’t do enough recovery since we are type A and it is all about more is better.  This is a simple way to combat thought process.

Do You Drink Coffee Before A Workout or Race?  Did You Start Consuming Coffee Based Your Athletic Career or College Days?

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  1. I drink coffee every day. In fact I’m drinking it right now! I’m pretty sure I started in college only out of desperation from lack of sleep, but I feel in love with it. I have 2 cups every morning even prior to racing. My body is used to it so I doubt I’m getting any benefit.
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  2. B.o.B. says:

    Mmmmm coffee. I dunno if I can cut the week before though as I’m a total caffeine addict and would get a tremendous head ache. Good stuff here as per usual Jason. :)
    B.o.B. recently posted..(Almost) Wordless WednesdayMy Profile

  3. BDD says:

    I dont drink coffee, I drink Crystal Light WIld Strawberry, which has a little caffenine.

    Some have said, dont train with caffenine and use it on race day for an extra kick, though I dont know how true that is

    • CTER says:

      I think if you don’t train with it and then all of a sudden introduce it race week could have some adverse affects because your body is just not used it. The whole point here about dropping it the week prior to a race so that you get that boost during the race worries me in that you are changing routine from training to race day.

  4. C2Iowa says:

    I drink a large STOUT cup everyday. I am not a caffine addict – however – I cannot see myself without my daily cup. I do not drink before a workout nor a race. I always have it afterwards. Kinda counter-productive; I just like the taste.

    Very good info. You keep me up-to-date. Thanks

  5. Christie says:

    NO way could I give up coffee… even for a week. I am an all-day-drinker. Not necessarily for the caffeine; but the taste. Maybe a switch to decaf would be beneficial
    Christie recently posted..Recap&RealizationMy Profile

    • CTER says:

      I love the taste of coffee as well. Even coffee ice cream is great. I drink decaf after my workouts and the rest of the day. The taste is just terrific and it really bothers me when you get a cup that is not made well.

  6. misszippy1 says:

    The whole subject is interesting. I have only just started making coffee at home in the past year. Before that, just the occasional Starbucks. Anyhow, I still don’t drink it every day, but probably around 3-4x/week. I never use it if I’m really tired…something about that makes me feel like it’s a drug (I know, silly!). And while I know it can enhance performance, I never use it pre-workout. Just makes me nervous to add anything in that might lead to GI distress!
    misszippy1 recently posted..An experiment of oneMy Profile

    • CTER says:

      I understand your point and I will say that I don’t have any additional GI distress from the coffee but I also limit the amount of coffee pre-workout/racing to anywhere between 4oz and 8oz and drink it with water as well.

  7. Johann says:

    I drink coffee daily and will always do so. I enjoy it and can’t see any negatives from doing so. I believe decaf is a waste of money. I go to bed with a cup of coffee and still sleep like a baby. I think people make way too much of the whole coffee thing. Oh yes, and during a long ultra…more than 12 hours, coffee is super! Yep, I love my coffee!
    Johann recently posted..Crazy Store Magaliesberg Mountain Challenge ReportMy Profile

    • CTER says:

      I would disagree with you on the decaf portion of your comment. I drink it because I like the taste of coffee and don’t want the caffeine or the fatty acids that comes with coffee that has caffeine. And as per usual each person is different and if you can sleep with no problem then continue to do so. I know when I was drinking it all the time I would be able to fall asleep without any issues either.

  8. You can have my empty coffee cup when you can pry it from my cold dead hands. Until then it’s time for a refill!

    I drink 4 cups every morning, workout over lunch, then another 3 or 4 cups of tea (with caffeine) or coffee in the afternoon. This is actually a reduced intake, as my last job had a “brew one cup of coffee on demand” system so I could get all of the free coffee I could handle and would routinely drink 10 to 12 cups a day, all day. I’ve been like that for so long now that I never get a real boost from the caffeine kick, but I will get migraines on the weekend if I don’t drink enough. that’s when you know you have a problem.
    Carolina John recently posted..Running is stupid sometimesMy Profile

    • CTER says:

      I was like that too when I was working in an office. Thinking about it I am not sure it was the coffee or the ability to get up and walk away from my desk for a few minutes and socialize but after a few months I would stop and start drinking tea and then go back to the coffee and it was a circle.

      Now I have my 4-8oz before my workout and then another 8oz (decaf) after my workout and then usually another cup (8oz) around 2 or 230p.

  9. Runblondie26 says:

    I love coffee. I still miss the “real stuff”. I went caffience-free last spring after I found the chest flutters I was getting during exercise were really PVC’s caused by too much caffeine consumption. I have a hard time doing anything in moderation :) That scared me straight, but oh how I still miss it.

    • CTER says:

      Do you use GU that has caffeine and if so how does that affect you? Do you have to do a lot of research to make sure there is no caffeine in the GU/Gel?

  10. Sigh… I’m chronic + – ha! I’m glad I’m not a real athlete hoping for performance boosts LOL.
    Kris @krazy_kris recently posted..Fresh Fish Is Best Fish | Wordless WednesdayMy Profile

    • CTER says:

      Please allow me to say this as kindly as I can. Stop calling yourself a non-athlete or not a real athlete. You are an athlete. You are out there swimming and that alone makes you an athlete. You are doing great and inspire and motivate. Keep it up!

  11. Jeff Irvin says:

    I LOVE my coffee and will never give it up -NEVER!! To arms…

    Coffee everyday of the week and then Coffee and PreRace on race day .. BOOM – there is your boost!
    Jeff Irvin recently posted..HA HA!My Profile

    • CTER says:

      If there is anybody in this world that is more passionate about their habits I have not met them. Your comments always make me laugh, scratch my head and think and that is awesome.

      PreRace is a First Endurance Product? How soon prior to the gun going off do you take it?

  12. I’m drinking my first cup right now. I’ll probably have another 3 over the course of the day without regard to my workout – I’ll be running 8 today. I will experience the typical withdrawals if I cut back too fast, and will probably taper towards race day – but I will have at least one (if not two) cups of fully leaded before the marathon.
    Becky Jackson recently posted..Book Review – there won’t be many of these.My Profile

    • CTER says:

      I drink to java on race day as well. I have trained my body to drink coffee in the morning (very early 3am) and have all my GI issues and distress over with by 630a and with most races starting at 7am I am good to go when the gun goes off.

      What marathon are you running?

  13. Marcia says:

    I’ve only been drinking coffee the past couple of years. It started as a half cup only on race day, then before my weekly long run. Lately I’ve been drinking it before every workout (although usually half caf) and also in my ice bath for the recovery benefits. I can feel that I’m less buzzed from it than I used to be. Probably need to ration it more but now I love it too much!

  14. I love, LOVE coffee! I’ve been drinking it since I was 18, sometimes cutting back, sometimes relying too much on the caffeine to get me through the day (hello, grad school!). But I love coffee, with or without caffeine. I don’t drink it before workouts. I have to sneak out of the house before my 4 year old awakes or I can’t run because she will attach herself to my leg. I tried the trick of coffee 90 minutes before a race this spring, and almost peed myself during the race. So I won’t be doing that again!
    Heather @ Not a DIY Life recently posted..Relaxing Into ItMy Profile

    • CTER says:

      Heather don’t fret on the peeing during a race. Let it go. If you have hydrated enough it is going to be closer to water anyway, plus the goal is to finish fastest and not the prettiest right? I am a pro at peeing on the bike and the run that it doesn’t bother me anymore and I have to sometimes remember that I’m sitting on the couch and that I can’t just pee there…..LOL!

  15. XLMIC says:

    I am staunchly anti-coffee. Whatever you’re getting from it can be gotten from healthier sources … dietary and behaviour modification. But I don’t judge drinkers. Enjoy your coffee…but stop trying to rationalize it :)
    XLMIC recently posted..Glam-O-Rama… introducing Leg 12–Hood To Coast RelayMy Profile

    • CTER says:

      What are the facts that you have behind the ‘healthier sources’? Why do you think coffee is not healthy? I’d be interested to learn about this because I have not read any real data that says it is unhealthy (in moderation!)

  16. I always have to have coffee in the am…workout, race, no race, no workout. Its a must….

  17. Kovas says:

    I’ve read that coffee doesn’t have the same acffeine effect as caffeineated gels, etc., so coffee drinkers don’t need to abstain prior to an event to get the caffeine boost – of course, this is if you use the caffeineated products and not coffee itself.
    Kovas recently posted..Buffalo Rock Shooting Range + Tracy’s RowhouseMy Profile

  18. marlene says:

    I’ve never been a coffee drinker (don’t like the taste) but I enjoy a tea most mornings, and ALWAYS before a morning workout. I definitely notice the extra energy and mostly, it wakes me up!

    Hubs was anti-caffeine for YEARS and recently started having it before morning runs since he always struggled to hit his heart rate and pace targets on morning workouts. Sure enough, the coffee has made a HUGE difference!
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  19. I drink coffee Probaby 2-3 cups. One pre-work out and at least one afterwards. I have never omitted it to see what would happen to my energy. I am too addicted. Plus it helps me poop, so I have no choice. My parents drank coffee every morning and from an early age I viewed it as a source of comfort and routine. Even if I didn’t like the taste, I would have adopted the habit because it was what I knew and I associated positive memories with it. I started drinking it my senior year of high school and haven’t stopped since, except when pregnant (well, I had decaf, but it sucked).
    Shut Up and Run recently posted..Get a New Plan, StanMy Profile

  20. Bob says:

    Drop coffee 1 week before a race. Add caffeine race day..
    Good for 5 minutes (I’m not sure but sounds good)
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  21. Jill says:

    Ick, not a coffee lover. Is that illegal?
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  22. Matthew Beal says:

    Thanks Jason on the additional coffee information. I’m still consuming 1 large cup per day. This article makes me feel a little better about it.
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  23. Chuck says:

    I always take caffeine before a race and then one late gel (for a HIM or more) later in the race. As to your second point about caffeine during the event, it can also be beneficial after a workout to speed the rate at which the recover meal you take in can get to your muscles.

    Coffe straight is gross, but mixed with a chocolate protein shake? Every morning baby!
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