Is Coffee bad for Bodybuilders?

Coffee is a natural stimulant that includes caffeine as its primary ingredient. Caffeine stimulates your brain and the central nervous system, promotes alertness, and eradicates feelings of lousiness and sleepiness. It blocks the adenosine level, a neurotransmitter that relaxes the brain.

While coffee offers plenty of health benefits in bodybuilding, such as improving performance, promoting weight loss, and aiding in recovery, it is also known to induce negative side effects such as anxiety, poor sleep, and restlessness. It may even cause headaches or raise your blood pressure. You will find ample of fat burner pills and pre-workout mixes containing caffeine as its primary or one of the ingredients. So, the question is whether the benefits of coffee in bodybuilding outweigh its adverse effects and how to minimize the negative effects of coffee while optimizing its benefits


Studies have found that consuming coffee before a workout, exercising, or cardio can enhance your performance.

 A study finds that ingesting coffee improves men’s and women’s sports performance in a 5km cycling time trial. According to a study published in Nutrients of 39 participants (19 men and 19 women), it was noted that drinking coffee before a race increases their speed cycling. The study that investigated the 5km cycling trail found coffee to positively affect the time trail performance of both men and women.

Participants were asked to restrict caffeine consumption for 12 hours before the trial. Some are administered 3mg per kg of caffeine during the trial, while others have a placebo in water or nothing as a control. After drinking coffee, both men and women noticed improved performance by 9 seconds, compared to the placebo and control. No performance differences were observed in participants taking a placebo or control.

Benefits of coffee in bodybuilding

Improves focus

Adenosine suppresses your brain’s alert system, preparing you for rest or sleep. It is a neurotransmitter released when your body breaks down your food for energy. This is why you often feel sleepy after a meal.

Caffeine binds with the adenosine receptors in the brain, eliminating sleep and lousy feeling. It keeps you focused and alert during a workout.

Enhances workout performance

Several studies reveal that caffeine can improve endurance when used in a moderate dose of 1.4-2.7mg per pound or 3-6mg per kg of body weight. The studies showed that people who had 100mg and 200mg of caffeine during a trial performed faster than those who consumed 100mg of caffeine.

According to researchers, coffee’s performance-boosting effects are due to its presence of natural caffeine. It is also suggested that the level of increase in performance depends on an individual’s genetic variation. This means some people may respond better to a low dose of caffeine while others need to increase their quantity to witness similar results.

Another report published in Sports Medicine refers to caffeine as a powerful ergogenic. It pointed out that consuming caffeine can help with training longer with greater power output. Another study published in the British Journal of Sports Science stated that participants who drank coffee ran 4.2 seconds faster on average in a 1500-meter treadmill trial compared to the control group.

Helps you do high-intensity exercises

Caffeine’s effect on high-intensity exercise is somewhat moderate and may not work out for everyone. According to studies, trained athletes experience more impressive caffeine consumption benefits than untrained beginners.

In a mall and controlled study, a specific number of male participants for high-intensity cycling were given 1.8mg caffeine per pound or 4mg per kg body weight. It was noticed that the participants experienced less fatigue and more power to cycle longer after consuming 1.

However, other studies show that using a 300mg caffeine supplement or coffee with creatine does not improve physically active male athletes during their sprint performance.

Helps with strength exercises

Several studies have found a link between coffee and its ability to increase strength. In a study of 12 participants was administered 1.4mg per pound or 3mg per kg body weight of caffeine. All the participants given coffee demonstrated an increased power output and strength during a bench press session.

Consuming caffeine increased mean power output and bar velocity in participants who asked for five sets of bench presses.

Another study revealed that coffee before a workout does not dramatically improve muscle strength. However, a high dose of caffeine showed increased muscle strength in male athletes who drank coffee regally.

Decreases muscle soreness

Research at the University of Illinois found that participants who drink coffee drink coffee before a workout experience less muscle pain and soreness. This is because coffee blocks the adenosine receptors in the brain that are responsible for pain perception. Besides, coffee also releases natural painkilling neurotransmitters like beta-endorphins and dopamine. This dual-action mechanism of coffee helps bodybuilders to push through those strenuous movements.

According to a study published in the Journal of Pain, you can reduce your muscle soreness by half by consuming coffee 24 to 48 hours after the workout.

Accelerate fat loss

The greatest benefit of drinking coffee before a workout is its fat-burning effects. The caffeine in coffee is known to increase the body’s metabolism rate, resulting in the breakdown of fat cells and using them as an energy source instead of glycogen. Since your body uses your fat cells as energy, you have more glycogen stored in your muscles, giving your more power to work out.

Caffeine is also known for its appetite-suppressant properties, making it a great beverage for someone trying to lose weight. Studies show that people consuming coffee noticed a significant increase in metabolism three hours after consumption.          

How much coffee do you need before your workout?

The standard dose of caffeine is 1.4-2.7mg per pound or 3-6mg per kg of your body weight.

Always start at a low dose, such as around 150mg-200mg, to check your tolerance level and then increase your performance.

An average 8-ounce or 240ml cup of black coffee usually contains 100mg caffeine. So, if you limit your caffeine content to 400mg per day, make sure not to exceed 4 cups (945ml).

The caffeine content of a coffee also depends on the type of beans and roast. For instance, mild or light-roast coffee contains more caffeine than dark-roasted coffee. Also, robusta coffee beans have twice the amount of caffeine as Arabica beans.

Before you use coffee as a supplement for bodybuilding, you need to map out the dosage and ensure you don’t overdose on caffeine. The key here is to find the right consumable quantity of coffee and determine the total caffeine consumption.

A lot of food contains caffeine in small or large amounts, including energy drinks, coke, caffeinated soda, tea, dark chocolate, etc. So, if you consume food and beverages containing caffeine, you must limit your coffee intake accordingly to avoid overdosing.

Take the coffee for at least an hour before working out for optimal performance. It usually takes 20-30 minutes to start the effect, but the caffeine reaches its peak within 45-60 minutes. It is also possible that caffeine can boost the recovery process post-workout so that you may take it after your workout. For the safe side, don’t consume coffee or any caffeinated products before six hours of bedtime.

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