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Coffee is healthier (and cheaper) than pre-workout supplements, depending on how you drink it.

JAN 11th, 2023


Only a couple weeks into 2023, some of us are about to face a difficult personal crisis of sorts: how am I supposed to stay motivated enough to accomplish my New Year’s fitness resolution(s)?

If you’re anything like us, you’ve weighed your options for quickly tackling the motivation problem that comes with accomplishing personal fitness goals—supplement pills, pre-workout shakes, personal trainers, joining mall-walking meetup groups, you name it…

Although these tactics are a quick way to boost your motivation levels to 100%, workout supplements come with their own health or cost related drawbacks—especially pre-workout.

In this week’s Alma-nac blog, we’ll be explaining why pre-workout caffeine supplements should be avoided, how to use coffee to get the right amount of pre-workout energy in your workout routine, and why it’s healthier & more cost effective to drink coffee with your workout and ditch those supplements in the long run.

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Is pre-workout really that bad? 

In the fitness world, the go-to methodology for boosting energy has become “pre-workout,” a mixture of caffeine and creatine that sends your heart into an adrenaline-fueled, blood pumping rampage in less than 30 minutes.

This approach to boosting your energy levels is not only unhealthy for your cardiovascular system in both the short and long term, it also leads to an unavoidable mid-afternoon caffeine crash (Harty et. al).

"The answer to finding a pre-workout energy boost doesn’t have to come at the cost of your health [...] The solution is using your favorite morning pick-me-up: coffee!"

A man and woman lifting weights

There are literally hundreds of supplements and pre-workout boosters on the market right now, and each of them claim to circumvent the health and mid-afternoon crashing issues in different and often exaggerated ways.

However, the answer to finding a pre-workout energy boost doesn’t have to come at the cost of your health, and it doesn't mean getting a better night’s sleep either. The solution is using your favorite morning pick-me-up, coffee!

The benefits of using coffee as a pre-workout

According to a recent study on the impact of coffee on health, a “moderate” coffee drinker (4 or less 12oz cups a day) experiences a lower risk of cardiovascular disease than those who did not drink coffee at all, and “heavy” coffee drinkers (6 or more 12oz cups a day) showed neither higher or lower signs of cardiovascular risk as opposed to those who did not drink coffee (Nieber, K.).

In other words, this 2017 study seemed to suggest that coffee—in its purest, black form—does not cause any detrimental effects to your heart when consumed moderately. On top of the cardiovascular benefits, coffee has also been empirically proven to improve you mentally focus, promote the burning of body fat, and accelerate muscle recovery.

Blender bottle and cup of coffee beside weights

Accelerated fat loss

On top of naturally increasing metabolism, the naturally occurring caffeine within a standard cup of coffee stimulates the nervous system, increases the level of adrenaline in your body, and subsequently promotes the burning of more fat than would otherwise occur without it (Marshall, Coffee Witness).

Improved focus & concentration

Including helping to promote increased fat burning during workout routines, the caffeine within coffee is also great at improving mental focus and concentration in the brain. We covered this in detail on a recent blog, so check it out if you want to learn more about this complicated but interesting chemical process!

Faster workout recovery times

If you’re someone who suffers from delayed onset muscle soreness frequently, coffee can also help promote faster recovery times: controlled studies have shown that those who drink coffee daily recover from muscle soreness 2x faster than those who don’t. 

It's 10-20x cheaper than pre-workout

Beyond the health benefits, coffee is between 10-20x cheaper than pre-workout options. The average cup of coffee contains approximately 70mg of caffeine and costs approximately 10-20¢ on average. Pre-workout, on the other hand, usually costs $1-2 per cup and contains 150-200mg.

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Man doing push ups

How to start using coffee as a healthy pre-workout alternative

When consumed at a healthy rate, coffee effectively replaces pre-workout energy supplements and has been shown to promote better bodily reactions, too. But how exactly can you transfer own coffee habits into a healthy and effective pre-workout energy boost?

1. Drink your coffee black

Remember that 2017 study we cited earlier in this blog post? It's important to note that the control and variable group(s) of that study consumed their coffee without any cream or sugar. 

Although the high levels of caffeine in coffee are the result of natural enzymes and chemical compounds, using this natural energy booster could be counterproductive if you drown your coffee in added sugars or creams.

That’s where buying coffee that is naturally delicious without cream or sugar is crucial, and we have quite the selection here at Alma Coffee. You won’t need added flavors in cream or sugar when your coffee is already tasty in its natural form, especially our Natural or Honey Process roasts.

2. Drink at least 2x more water than coffee

Have you ever heard that saying “too much of anything is a bad thing?” Well, as much as we want to tell you that’s not true when it comes to coffee, it's hard to deny that our favorite morning beverage isn’t a natural dehydrant and diuretic. 

Technically speaking, this means it speeds up the release excretion of fluid through the kidneys that, in turn, speeds up the rate at which your body distributes essential fluids.

This doesn’t mean you can’t counteract this side effect, however. It’s suggested that adults drink between 11 and 16 ounces of water a day, adjusted for body weight. Because coffee speeds up the rate at which your body distributes essential fluids, we recommend drinking a glass of water for every 12oz cup of coffee you consume.

3. Start your workout within 30-45 mins of drinking coffee

Finally, we want to point out that capitalizing on the natural energy boost after downing a cup of joe should happen sooner rather than later. 

Our research into the pre-workout properties of coffee suggested working out within 15-30 minutes of consuming a cup of coffee. However, we think this time frame could be accelerated if you drink your coffee (with water) faster! Turning your coffee into a cold brew with a roast like the Alma Frio could help achieve this.

Cold brew karaf in refrigerator.

Your 2022 workout goals are a few cups of coffee away!

If you are looking for a healthy workout supplement or even a better cup of coffee in 2022, check out our wide selection of coffees on our coffee catalog. We’d love to help you find your new pre-workout cup, no matter your coffee tastes. 

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Written by: Kelley Bostian