Feeling less motivation to get to the gym and fulfill your resolution of getting in shape in 2016? You’re not alone, but according to a new study, there might be a quick fix to this problem that will help motivate you. According to a paper published this month in the scientific journal Sports Medicine, Professor Samuele Marcora, a University of Kent endurance expert, suggests the use of caffeine could help people stick to their fitness plans. That’s right, a cup of coffee might be the extra push you need to get off your couch and onto the treadmill.
By drinking coffee before you exercise, you are also reducing your brain’s perception of effort that it takes to workout, says Professor Marcora. Essentially, the caffeine is tricking you into believing that your next weight lifting session or cardio day is easy. Marcora also notes in the release that the perception of effort is one of the main reasons why most people choose sedentary activities for their leisure time. This is basically why, when given the choice of walking or watching TV, our brains usually lead us the TV route.
When you have coffee you instead think that the activity that previously seemed strenuous is now doable. This will in turn help you stick to your resolution. Although this might seem so simple, it makes sense. Often what keeps us from the gym is a lack of motivation that is rooted in the fact that the gym is strenuous compared to another activity that we could be doing instead.
The benefits of having a cup of coffee before the gym goes beyond just giving yourself a perception that the gym will be easy. According to Men’s Fitness, having coffee before you workout can increase the amount of fat you burn during a workout.
“Coffee — when consumed before exercise — can cause fat cells to be used as an energy source as opposed to glycogen,” the site says, adding that drinking black coffee can also increase your metabolism and act as an appetite suppressant throughout the day.
If you are afraid that coffee may upset your stomach pre-workout, you may want to consider having a cup after your workout is over. According to Health, a recent study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology suggests that having caffeine post-exercise may also be beneficial particularly to endurance athletes.
Compared to consuming carbohydrates alone, Health explains that a having a combination of both carbohydrates and caffeine resulted in study participants having a 66% increase in muscle glycogen four hours after intense, glycogen-depleting exercising. Glycogen, the form of carbohydrate that gets stocked in the muscles, serves as vital energy storage during exercise, to power strength moves, and fuel endurance.
According to the site, “Packing a greater reserve means that the very next time you work out, you’ve upped your ability to exercise harder and/or longer.”
Another way to incorporate coffee is adding a small amount into your pre- or post-workout protein shake. By mixing it with your shake, you avoid getting a stomachache and still benefit from the many different positives that caffeine has on your workout.