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Drink This 30 Minutes Before Exercise to Torch Fat, Says New Study

Here's why scientists say a well-timed and "strong" cup of coffee will help you reach your fitness goals.
FACT CHECKED BY Faye Brennan
drinking coffee

If you believe one of the most popular doctors on TikTok, the two best times to drink coffee every day (for the sake of alertness and cognitive function) are during the hours of 10am to noon and 2pm to 5pm, when your hormone cortisol isn't at its peak and you could really make the most of your caffeine jolt. But if you're a regular exerciser and you're looking to get the most of your workouts, specifically, a new study of all-male subjects published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition suggests another time you should drink coffee: before you exercise. What's more—which is excellent news for coffee lovers—it should be strong coffee.

Read on for more about what the scientists say about the connection between your coffee and your fitness—and when exactly you should be drinking it. And if you're in the market for a great new fat-burning workout, read up on The Quick 10-Minute Workout That Melts Belly Fat, According to a Top Trainer.

1

Fuel up exactly a half-hour before working out.

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"The results of our study showed that acute caffeine ingestion 30 minutes before performing an aerobic exercise test increased maximum fat oxidation during exercise regardless of the time of day," said Francisco José Amaro-Gahete, a professor of physiology at Spain's University of Granada, and the lead author for the study.

For the study, the researchers at the University of Granada set out to investigate further the effects of coffee on exercise, and whether or not it really helps improve athletic performance. They experimented on 16 men with any average age of 32, who completed "exercise tests four times at seven-day intervals." The participants either drank a certain amount of caffeine or a placebo. And for more great fitness advice, check out The Simple Morning Workout That Melts Fat All Day Long, Say Experts.

2

Here's how strong your coffee should be.

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The study says that roughly 3mg of caffeine per kg of body mass is the amount that increases the rate of fat burn. For reference, that means a 170-pound man should be drinking 231 mg of caffeine a half-hour before exercise, which translations to roughly one Tall Starbucks Pike Place blend.

The researchers note that there are limits to caffeine's fat-burning benefits. "Very high doses of caffeine (e.g. 9 mg/kg) are associated with a high incidence of side-effects and do not seem to be required to elicit an ergogenic effect," says the study. (For the record, 9mp/kg for the same 170-pound man would be 693mg of caffeine—or more than 30 ounces of Starbuck's Blonde roast, its strongest roast.)

3

The effects are more pronounced at this hour of the day.

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The scientists also concluded that the effects of caffeine consumption on your fat burn are "more marked" when the exercise is performed in the afternoon, as opposed to the morning. For more on the benefits of working out later in the day, see why This Is the Perfect Time of Day to Exercise, Says New Study.

4

It helps with basically any exercise.

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According to the study: "Small to moderate benefits of caffeine use include, but are not limited to: muscular endurance, movement velocity and muscular strength, sprinting, jumping, and throwing performance, as well as a wide range of aerobic and anaerobic sport-specific actions."

The study also notes that caffeine may enhance performance in certain sports such as basketball ("increased jump height… free throws made… increased number of total and offensive rebounds") soccer ("increased total distance covered during the game"), volleyball ("increased number of volleyball actions and decreased number of imprecise actions"), and cross-country skiing ("reduced time to complete a set distance").

Related: This One Workout Drives 29 Percent More Fat Loss, Says Science

5

So remember…

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"In summary," concludes the study, "the findings suggest that the combination of acute caffeine intake and aerobic exercise performed at moderate intensity in the afternoon provides the optimal scenario for people seeking to increase fat-burning during physical exercise." And for more amazing workout advice, don't miss The Crazy-Popular Walking Workout That Totally Works, Say Experts.