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How Caffeine Affects Metabolism and Performance

Updated: Apr 14, 2022

Do you want to increase physical performance and burn more fat? If so, look no further than your cup of coffee. Read on to learn about how the addition of caffeine to your routine can enhance your fitness lifestyle.

Caffeine Overview: Effects and Sources

Caffeine modulates various physiological and psychological functions of the body including alertness, focus, and energy metabolism. People consume caffeine in a wide range of supplements, foods, and drinks, and the dosage varies greatly across these sources.

Caffeine is the most widely used psychoactive substance in the world. More than 80% of North American adults consume it on a regular basis. A few of the most popular products containing caffeine are coffee, tea, and pre-workout supplements.

Coffee and tea are favored morning beverages, most likely due to their modest caffeine content. Depending on the type of tea or coffee the caffeine dose can range from 25-60mg for tea (green tea contains less than black tea) and 60-120mg for coffee (light brew contains less than dark brew). These two drinks also contain a variety of beneficial polyphenols that exert antioxidant and neuroprotective effects on the body!

Pre-workout supplements are one of the newest ways to consume caffeine, especially by those interested in fitness. Commercial pre-workout supplements vary greatly in their caffeine content, usually within the range of 150-300mg.

Caffeine Use for Fat Loss

Caffeine robustly increases fat metabolism. This mode of energy metabolism can be simply described as the mobilization and utilization (oxidation) of fatty acids as fuel. According to a study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports and Nutrition, 3mg/kg of caffeine consumed 30 minutes prior to morning exercise increased fat oxidation by 11%!

Aside from enhancing fat oxidation, caffeine consumption has also been shown to increase resting metabolic rate – the rate at which your body burns calories at rest. In other words, caffeine consumption can help you burn more calories regardless of your activity level.

Caffeine Use for Performance

Caffeine is a powerful ergogenic aid with a history of use among athletes for the purposes of increasing energy and performance.

One study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine found that athletes who consumed caffeine prior to exercising could train at a higher-intensity, and for longer periods of time. The bridge linking caffeine to enhanced performance and endurance is resistance to fatigue. There is less research investigating the effect of caffeine on strength, however, researchers are optimistic.

When should you take caffeine? Ideally, you should consume your caffeine between 30 and 60 minutes before your workout. This is because caffeine reaches peak levels in the bloodstream during this window of time. Aligning your workout with this time frame will provide you the greatest energy and performance benefits.

Caffeine Use Cautions & Considerations

How much caffeine should you take? The effective dose varies between studies, but the consensus is in the range of 200-400mg per day. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stated consuming up to 400mg of caffeine per day seems to be safe for most adults. Some studies that experimented with doses of 500mg and beyond observed even more robust effects, but be warned, exceeding these levels could be hazardous to your health. Caffeine when taken in extreme doses can have deleterious side effects including nervousness, irritability, headache, and insomnia.

How does caffeine impact sleep? Caffeine has the potential to negatively affect sleep onset, duration, quality, and perceived satisfaction levels. Consider limiting your intake of caffeine to at least six hours before bed to reduce the risk of impairing your sleep.

The Takeaway

Excited to reap all the benefits caffeine has to offer? Not so fast. Don’t make the mistake of reaching for the nearest energy drink or soda. Although these products do contain caffeine, they also contain exorbitant amounts of added sugar. Instead, consider reaching for a cup of coffee, tea, or your favorite pre-workout supplement.

If you already enjoy one of the forementioned sources of caffeine you can carry on with peace of mind knowing that they confer numerous health benefits and are completely safe to consume on a regular basis.

Whether you want to lose a few pounds, or you want to optimize your health and performance, adding caffeine to your routine can help you achieve your fitness goals!

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