Is your Preworkout Caffeine Helping or Hindering Your Workout?

A question we get asked time and time again is regarding the pros and cons of caffeine both fat loss and general fitness.

This is a broad question and covers drinking both coffee and tea and also covers taking caffeine and "fat burner" tablets. due to the way testing is done, there is a broad set of beliefs regarding the benefits of caffeine, however let's break down what we do know.

First let's look at the pros of caffeine

Caffeine can improve focus during workouts, provide a mild enhancement to athletic ability, and Aid constipation.

Studies have also shown caffeine has positive effects in decreasing the onset of diabetes, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's, heart attacks and gout. However not all of these have been proven definitely.

It can also contribute to fat loss, here's how:

Caffeine may temporarily support lipolysis (the breakdown of lipids and involves hydrolysis of triglycerides into glycerol and free fatty acids) and may temporarily support the increase of thermogenesis (raising your metabolism and boosting calorie burn) however this effect will be diminished in those who consume larger quantities of caffeine.

So.. What are the cons?

Caffeine can cause "rebound headaches", mainly from caffeine withdrawal, this is more common in people who drink a lot of caffeine daily.  Caffeine can increase anxiety in people who are prone to attacks as well as increase heart palpitations and arrhythmia sin those sensitive to caffeine.

The last and most obvious is that caffeine can also interfere with sleep patterns, this is key for those who hit the gym later in the day, sleep is a key factor in recovery and should take precedence over a pre workout boost.

Finally I want to look at fat burners:

The subject of fat burners comes up time and again and my response is always the same. The benefits and results of taking a fat burning pill seems a common confusion. These pills are highly marketed and a huge earner for supplement companies and as such the potential effects seem overblown.

That's not to say they don't work, after all the ingredients tend to be of a high quality a and usually have proven positive effects, many contain ingredients such as caffeine, CLA, green tea extract etc. Which all have proven fat burning effects.

However The quantity of these ingredients however is minimal and provide no substitute for correct nutrition and exercise, in fact without a strict diet and training program the effect is negligible, comparable to trying to empty a swimming pool with a teaspoon in the rain, it's not that's it's not working, it's just that the effect is minimal or undetectable.

Those with low body fat looking for a plateau breaker may find a course of fat burners useful, but my advice would be to save your pennies and look at honing your current nutrition plan, it's cheaper and more effective.