Wednesday Wisdom from Framar Health - Coffee - runners friend or foe

21 August 2019

Wednesday Wisdom from Framar Health - Coffee - runners friend or foe

Wednesday Wisdom with Sarah Trimble Nutrition from Framar Health, providing expert nutritional advice & recipes to help support your marathon training.

Coffee: runner’s friend or foe?

Coffee consumption has long been considered an unhealthy habit that we’re encouraged to reduce or avoid completely. But has coffee been wrongly labelled unhealthy and can drinking coffee have real benefits for running performance? Let’s look at the facts:

For runner’s there are in fact some real benefits from coffee consumption, coffee is a proven performance enhancing substance and has been shown to improve both pace and performance while also reducing muscle pain. Coffee is an affordable and readily available way to improve athletic performance.

The science bit: coffee gives us that well known energy boost by causing the body to produce adrenaline and endorphins. The adrenaline stimulates energy production and blood flow to our muscles while the endorphins make us feel more alert and energetic – together this results in a reduced rate of perceived exertion, meaning that exercise feels less difficult.

To benefit from coffee’s performance enhancing benefits we should drink it around 30-60 minutes before exercise. However, research shows that if you are a regular heavy coffee drinker (i.e. more than 2 a day) you won’t experience the same benefits from having a coffee pre-race. So if you plan on using coffee to boost performance try and reduce intake on other days.

Using coffee to support running performance might not be suitable for individuals with high blood pressure or IBS. While coffee’s diuretic effects have been exaggerated over the years, regular high intake of coffee can deplete levels of the nutrients iron and magnesium, both of which are really important for runners. So stick to a maximum of 2 cups a day while training.

Try my cold brew coffee smoothie, my favourite way to drink my pre-run coffee: blend strong coffee, a banana, 1 tsp peanut butter, 1 tsp cacao and almond milk.