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|Coffee Before the Gym?
Research Studies Say Think Again!
A new study suggests that having a coffee fix just before a workout may not be the best idea.
A new study in Switzerland found that the amount of caffeine in just two cups of coffee limits the body's
ability to increase blood flow to the heart during exercise: which of course limits the cardiovascular
system from working at its full potential.
This is what the researchers had to say….."Whenever we do a physical exercise, myocardial blood flow
has to increase in order to match the increased need of oxygen. We found that caffeine may adversely
affect this mechanism. It partly blunts the needed increase in flow," Dr. Philipp A. Kaufmann, of the
University Hospital Zurich and Center for Integrative Human Physiology, said in a prepared statement to
the press recently.
The study included 18 young, healthy people who were regular coffee drinkers.(I am trying to think of
someone I know who is not a regular coffee drinker…but I digress.) They did not drink any coffee for 36
hours prior to study testing.(Just another brief note… if you just stop drinking coffee you get terrible
headaches- it is addicting.) The researchers used high-tech PET scans to measure the participants' heart
blood flow before and after they rode a stationary bike. Ten of them did this in normal conditions, and
eight did the exercise in a chamber that simulated being at about 15,000 feet altitude.
Both groups repeated the testing procedure after swallowing a tablet containing 200 milligrams of
caffeine that is the approximate amount contained in two cups of coffee.
As reported in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the caffeine did not affect heart blood
flow when the participants were inactive. However, measurements taken immediately after exercise
showed a slowdown in heart blood flow after they'd taken the caffeine tablets, compared to their
Heart blood flow was 22 percent lower in those who exercised in normal air pressure and 39 percent
lower in those who exercised in the high-altitude chamber, the researchers report.
They believe caffeine may block certain receptors in the walls of blood vessels, interfering with the
normal signaling process that causes blood vessels to dilate in response to exercise.
"Although these findings seem not to have a clinical importance in healthy volunteers, they may raise
safety questions in patients with reduced coronary flow reserve, as seen in coronary artery disease,
particularly before physical exercise and at high-altitude exposure," the study authors wrote.
While some people regard caffeine as a stimulant, this study suggests it may not increase athletic
"We now have good evidence that, at the level of myocardial blood flow, caffeine is not a useful
stimulant. It may be a stimulant at the cerebral level in terms of being more awake and alert, which may
subjectively give the feeling of having better physical performance. But I now would not recommend that
any athlete drink caffeine before sports," Kaufmann said.
Okay now we all have read this.... but I think I will still have my coffee... I love my starbucks before