People are always on the lookout for ways to push themselves and increase their output during a workout. Is drinking caffeine beforehand the answer?
Research has shown that consuming a caffeinated beverage can increase performance and energy levels. And a study at the University of Illinois reported that drinking two to three cups of coffee an hour before exercise can even reduce perceived muscle pain. In an interview with exercise app Aaptiv, Dr. Terry Graham, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences at the University of Guelph, remarked that you only need to ingest a small amount of caffeine to see an impact. “Studies using colas, energy drinks, or a sports drink with caffeine added, all show a positive effect on exercise performance. The most interesting thing is that some of these have provided quite low amounts of caffeine, as low as 1.5-2 mg/kg and there is still an effect.”
However, there are issues with coffee consumption specifically, as this can dehydrate you, meaning it won’t help your body before, during or after a workout. In recent years, there have been a number of health-conscious drinks emerging that are hoping to strike a balance between a hydrating, yet caffeinated beverage. One of these is Everly, a Nashville-based drinks company started by two graduates of Vanderbilt.
According to Ryan Gaines, Everly’s CEO, the company was founded due to the lack of other options out there. “After getting frustrated with the drink mix options available on the market, the Everly founders created their own and launched it in 2013 with a Kickstarter campaign. The Energy line was introduced in 2016 in response to customer requests for a healthier, cleaner energy drink.”
Everly mixes come in powdered form…
Ryan echoes the view that caffeine can be a beneficial way to kick off an exercise session. “Caffeine helps the body more quickly access energy, which has been shown to improve performance and fat-burning during workouts,” he explains. “Caffeine is also a pain suppressant and leads to workouts feeling less difficult and more enjoyable.”
Individuals often turn to unhealthy sports drinks if they don’t enjoy drinking coffee or water. These are often full of ingredients that aren’t beneficial for your body. “Pure caffeine has a bitter taste, so traditional energy drinks are loaded with sugar and artificial sweeteners to hide that. Recently there has been more awareness about the negative impacts of sugar and artificial sweeteners (including weight gain, energy crashes, and headaches), so people are looking for healthier, cleaner alternatives,” says Ryan.
As well as working with athletes and fitness enthusiasts, Everly has teamed up with the non-profit organization ColaLife, which provides packets of life-saving rehydration mixes (known as ‘Oral Rehydration Salts’) to mothers in rural Zambia.
The Everly mix comes in powdered form, and when it comes to ingredients, Everly doesn’t use aspartame, sucralose, Red 40 or sugar to its mixture. And opposed to coffee, it promises to hydrate you. “Unlike coffee, drinking a natural energy drink mix powder with water before a workout improves hydration levels,” concludes Ryan.
If you’re thinking of upping your caffeine intake before a workout, it could be beneficial for a higher calorie burn. However, make sure that the caffeine is a help, not a hindrance. As Dr Graham advises individuals to listen to their bodies and make sure they are not pushing themselves into exhaustion.
Make sure to keep hydrated, and use any caffeine as part of a balanced regime.