Do you know why coffee has always been linked to the world of sports? A study carried out by scientists from the University of Granada (UGR) has just shown that taking a well-loaded one half an hour before doing aerobic exercise significantly increases fat burning.
“It is very widespread, within the practical scope, the recommendation to exercise on an empty stomach, in the morning, to increase the fat oxidation during exercise. However, this recommendation could lack a scientific basis, since it is unknown whether this increase is due to exercising in the morning or due to fasting for a long period of time “, points out Francisco José Amaro -Gahete, from the Department of Physiology of the UGR and main author of the research.
So Amaro-Gahete, along with other researchers, wanted to show if this was the case, if caffeine actually produces greater fat burning during exercise, and offer some scientific rationale on whether training in the morning promotes fat burning or what help is practice after an extended period of fasting.
To do this, they analyzed the evolution of a total of 15 men (32 years of average age), who carried out four exercise tests at different time intervals during a week, and who ingested doses of 3 milligrams per kilo of caffeine or of placebo half an hour before exercising, at eight in the morning and at five in the afternoon. And in order to demonstrate the initial premise of the research, the participants maintained the same fasting hours both for training in the morning and in the afternoon.
The results of that entire study determined that taking caffeine half an hour before exercising significantly increased fat burning, regardless of the time of physical activity. The existence of a diurnal variation in fat oxidation during exercise was also confirmed, so that the afternoon values were higher than those in the morning for equal hours of fasting.
Hence, judging by the results of this research, the best option for those looking to lose fat by exercising is to combine caffeine intake half an hour before with train in the afternoon.
An excellent sports supplement
Carlos Lázaro, nutritionist and expert in personal training, explains that caffeine, a stimulating alkaloid characteristic of coffee, “helps in the combustion of the fat that we have in the fatty acids found in adipocytes, cells that perform the function of store fat or lipids “.
Daniel Fernández Doblas, a doctor specializing in athlete care and sports performance, agrees that caffeine is an excellent sports supplement because it is cheap and easily accessible. He adds that, in addition, it is one of the supplements with the most scientific evidence and, therefore, one of the safest.
Fernández highlights that the role of the caffeine it is not just limited to helping you lose fat or weight. It states that, on a competitive level, it is also used as a source of energy. “Caffeine helps the glycogen stores, the carbohydrates that we have in our body, last longer. In endurance sports it helps maintain high performance,” he details.
And he explains that, in addition, it also increases alertness, decreases reaction times and improves pain threshold, which facilitates greater performance.
On the other hand, Lázaro states that there are studies that relate caffeine to the neuromuscular activity of our body. “It can help in the neuromuscular connection, therefore in the activation and relaxation of the muscle”, adds the trainer.
The more coffee, the better results?
Reading the above, one might come to think that then, to perform more or burn more fat, the key is to puff up on coffees before starting to exercise. The nutritionist Carlos Lázaro emphasizes that the ideal doses vary between 3 and 9 milligrams of caffeine per kilo of weight that the person has, since there are studies that show that a higher intake can lead to side effects. Therefore, there is a limit beyond which its consumption is considered harmful.
Just as self-medicating in case of illness is a mistake, the same thing happens in sport. Lázaro explains that it is necessary to go to a professional and not prescribe your own doses of caffeine to avoid problems in the future. “Exceeding the maximum doses can lead to insomnia or arrhythmias,” says the expert.
Neither magic bullet nor panacea
Drinking coffee is also not a silver bullet or magic bullet for those yearning to lose weight. “In the end, the main thing is training, food, rest and the psychological part. If you have all this well structured, caffeine can help you improve,” says Fernández.
And it underscores the importance of understanding the functionality of this supplement. “If we train as a hobby, it does not make sense to take caffeine. Even if we get better marks, we are fooling ourselves,” says the doctor.
If we train as a hobby, there is no point in drinking caffeine “
He also adds that the daily use of this substance creates tolerance and, therefore, its effectiveness is reduced. “In athletes it is not recommended to use it daily, since it loses effectiveness and the day of the competition you will not have the desired effect,” he says.
In addition, continued use and in large quantities causes dependence. “The day you do not take your dose of caffeine will have side effects, such as headaches, anxiety, headache or gastrointestinal discomfort,” warns Fernández.