Clearly, she’s heard the latest fitness buzz.
Photo by Chad Springer/Corbis
Kettlebells, meet Keurig: Downing a couple of mugs of joe before a workout could make it feel more fun, according to a small study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology. And if this isn’t enough to make you brew up a pot, that brighter postworkout mood could also help you to eat less later in the day.
The researchers set up the experiment to simulate a typical morning scenario where you’d drink a caffeinated beverage, hit the gym, scarf breakfast with another cup, and then eat lunch.
In the first part of the study, 14 active adults took either caffeine or a placebo 90 minutes before a moderate workout on a stationary bike. The caffeine dose was based on body weight and was equivalent to about two 8-ounce cups of coffee or four cups of black tea for a 150-pound person. Every 15 minutes, the subjects reported how difficult the ride felt.
The results: Caffeinated subjects said the ride felt significantly easier as they were pedaling along, compared to when they rode sans-stimulant, and they enjoyed the workout more after it was over. And it wasn’t just because they recognized the caffeine buzz. “There is some evidence that caffeine can influence ‘happy chemicals’ like dopamine and serotonin,” study author Matthew Schubert told Yahoo Health.
Related: Keeping Your Eye on the Prize Can Make Exercise Easier
Schubert’s team also wanted to see if caffeine would influence how much people ate later in the day, since previous research on the topic has shown mixed results. So they fed the subjects a sandwich buffet and tracked how many calories they consumed. “They ate a 400-calorie lunch when they took the placebo, but what we found very interesting was that they ate about 72 fewer calories in the caffeine trial,” Schubert said.
In addition, enjoying the workout more was associated with eating less. The same brain chemicals that affect exercise enjoyment may also affect appetite, Schubert told Yahoo Health.
While the study used pure caffeine, you’ll probably see a similar effect with coffee or caffeinated tea. Just make sure to take your java black, Schubert said, adding, “You can easily offset the caloric benefits with a grande Frappuccino or mocha latte.”
Related: Decaf Coffee Has Body Perks, Too