If you’re looking to maximize the amount of fat burned in your next workout, think about having coffee half an hour before you start – as a new study suggests, it can make a significant difference in fat burning, especially later in the day.
The researchers found that 3 milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of body weight, about half of a single dose of caffeine, which is commonly considered around 6 mg / kg, can increase the rate of fat burning during aerobic exercise, according to the results collected from 15 male volunteers. .
The coffee dose was shown to increase the maximum rate of fat oxidation (MFO, a measure of how efficiently the body burns fat) by an average of 10.7 percent in the morning and 29 percent in the morning. late.
It adds to what we already know about MFO: that it is lower in the morning than it is in the afternoon, as is overall aerobic capacity.
“The recommendation to exercise on an empty stomach in the morning to increase fat oxidation is commonplace,” says physiologist Francisco José Amaro-Gahete of the University of Granada in Spain.
“However, this recommendation may lack scientific basis, as it is unknown whether this increase is due to exercise in the morning or not eating for a longer period of time.”
The researchers were also interested in taking a closer look at the relationship between caffeine and exercise. The stimulant is often associated with better athletic performance, although the science behind this link is not as comprehensive as it could be.
Over the course of four weeks, the 15 study volunteers went through four tests in random order: taking a placebo at 8 a.m., taking a placebo at 5 p.m., taking a caffeine supplement at 8 a.m., and taking a supplement. of caffeine at 5 pm.
In subsequent cycling tests after administration of the stimulant or placebo, the body’s ability to burn fat was measured, showing the impact that caffeine had had on MFO. Maximum oxygen consumption (VO2max) was also increased, as was the intensity of the exercise that triggered MFO, (which the team calls Fatmax).
“The results of our study showed that acute caffeine ingestion 30 minutes before performing an aerobic exercise test increased maximal fat oxidation during exercise, regardless of the time of day,” says Amaro-Gahete.
This is a study with a fairly small sample of participants, of course, so it is important not to draw too broad a conclusion, but the results are clear enough to suggest that there is some kind of association.
The findings add another dimension to the continuing discoveries scientists are making about how caffeine can affect the way our brains and bodies work, and there is still much more to learn, from its impact on sleep to the effect it has on our lives. bowels.
In the meantime, if you’re wondering how to get the most out of your regular exercise routine in terms of burning fat, this study provides some clues: A cup of coffee before your next workout could provide some benefits.
“Overall, these results suggest that a combination of acute caffeine intake and moderate intensity exercise in the afternoon provides the best scenario for individuals seeking to increase whole-body fat oxidation during aerobic exercise,” the researchers conclude. .
The research has been published in the Journal of the International Society for Sports Nutrition.