By Matt Evans
When you think of weight loss drinks, water is obviously the first thing that comes to mind. Staying hydrated is vitally important for everyday life, especially during exercise (which is why you should check out our best water bottle for the gym list). But one pre-workout drink you might not have thought about is a good old cup of coffee.
Coffee is wonderful stuff. For some of us, it makes mornings just about bearable. It perks us up, tastes delicious and has even been found to increase our metabolisms. Over-consumption of stimulants isn't always good for our body, but there's plenty of benefits to having a couple of cups a day.
Now, you can add another benefit onto coffee's list of accolades. A new study published by researchers from the University of Granada has found you can increase the amount of calories burned during your workout by drinking a strong coffee around 30 minutes before you start.
Caffeine is one of the most commonly consumed substances in the world of sports performance. Some people swig energy drinks during their HIIT workouts or mix up a specialist pre-workout powder with some water on their way to the gym. However, the University of Granada study had people ingest 3mg of caffeine per kg of bodyweight. For a 70kg individual, that's 210mg, as much as can be found in a strong cup of coffee.
The researchers had the participants take the caffeine supplement 30 minutes before working out to see if it affected the results of the session. The researchers tried this in both the morning and afternoon, to determine if time of day made any difference.
"The results of our study showed that acute caffeine ingestion 30 minutes before performing an aerobic exercise test increased maximum fat oxidation during exercise regardless of the time of day," explains Francisco J. Amaro, one of the study's authors. Whether you're a morning person or you prefer to exercise in the afternoon, caffeine can help you burn a few extra calories.
If you really want to optimise your workouts, try doing them after lunch, as the study found fat oxidation (the process of burning fat, converting it into oxygen to send to the body's muscles) was greater during the afternoon sessions.
The researchers concluded "the combination of acute caffeine intake and aerobic exercise performed at moderate intensity in the afternoon provides the optimal scenario for people seeking to increase fat-burning during physical exercise."
As well as specialist sports products which contain caffeine, like pre-workout powders, adding a shot of coffee to a shake made from the best protein powder for weight loss, or drinking an expresso before your workout, should work just as well. Follow it up with some of the best exercises for weight loss, and you'll be melting fat before you know it.
Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and Channel Editor at Fit&Well. He's previously written for titles like Men's Health and Red Bull, and covers all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website.
Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen kickboxer and runner. His top fitness tip? Stretch.
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