Coffee and Its Bottomless Benefits: Bar Talk with Eric Bartosz

Coffee Bar Talk

Coffee isn’t typically marketed as a fitness drink or packaged as an exercise supplement, but when you consider its benefits, you realize it certainly could hold its own against the other options in the sports and nutrition aisle.

Est. Read Time: 4 mins

Have you had your coffee yet? Statistically speaking, the answer is likely yes. Here in the US, we put the ‘nation’ in caffeination, with coffee being Americans’ second most consumed beverage. (Water is the undefeated champ and gets the top spot.) America is a global leader in many things, and coffee-related revenue is on that list, with no other country spending as much as we do. Our love of coffee energizes the U.S. economy by approximately $80 billion a year, fueled by the fact that 63 percent of us have at least one cup daily and average closer to three cups per day.

If you like stats, here are a couple more for you: Americans drink about 400 million cups of coffee each day. If you’re 60 or older, consider yourself in the ‘super-sipper’ demographic, with 72 percent of you and your peers being daily coffee drinkers.

We love coffee, and you already know that. What you may not know is that coffee packs a solid punch of benefits related to exercise, health and overall wellness.

I was having a conversation with a couple of friends the other day, both in the medical field, and we got talking about the scientific benefits of coffee before running. Let’s face it: anytime we realize that something we enjoy eating or drinking has some unknown advantages, that’s some positive reinforcement worth spreading the word about!

Coffee isn’t typically marketed as a fitness drink or packaged as an exercise supplement, but when you consider its benefits, you realize it certainly could hold its own against the other options in the sports and nutrition aisle. Here are some things about our favorite drink (no offense to water) that you may not know:

Coffee is a fat burner. Caffeine sends a signal to use fat cells as energy instead of glycogen. Having a cup of coffee 45 to 60 minutes before exercising sets the stage for fat to be consumed as fuel, and it also increases the level of adrenaline in our blood, which also burns fat. (That’s one of the reasons caffeine is an ingredient in most diet pills.) Coffee also increases our metabolism, which results in the use of more calories during and after exercise. (Remember, even walking around the block is exercise; it doesn’t need to be a triathlon!)

Coffee decreases muscle pain. Caffeine is highly effective at minimizing soreness during and after exercise, with up to a 48 percent reduction in pain reported by a University of Georgia study. For cardio, this means you keep at your workout longer, and for weights, it means more reps before feeling the burn turns into calling it quits. The science behind these benefits is that caffeine blocks the receptors for adenosine, the chemical our body releases because of inflammation. It makes sense when we consider that caffeine is one of the ingredients in aspirin. Skip the pill and go for the mug!

Further Reading: Caffeine Cuts Post-Workout Pain By Nearly 50 Percent, Study Finds | ScienceDaily

Coffee keeps you healthy. We don’t often consider coffee a liquid vitamin, but it could qualify as one. In addition to being chock full of antioxidants, coffee is also linked to a reduction in the risks of Alzheimer’s, various cancers, heart disease, stroke and Parkinson’s disease. As an added incentive, coffee is shown to benefit mental health and increase lifespan.

Further Reading: Coffee and Antioxidants: Everything You Need to Know | Healthline.com

Coffee and weight loss. If losing a few (or more) pounds is on your 2024 to-do list, coffee is proven to be a successful weapon in your arsenal, based on a Harvard study showing 4 percent weight loss in its 24-week study involving 126 overweight adults. That may not sound like a lot, but for someone at 150 pounds who’s struggling to lose another 5 to 6 pounds, coffee could be the missing piece to tip the scales in the right direction. Not only does coffee speed up your metabolism, but it also acts as an appetite suppressant. Of course, any weight loss benefits could quickly be eliminated if you load it up with cream and sugar, so skip the add-ins to get the maximum improvements. (Iced coffee with a splash of skim milk is my go-to drink year-round, but especially great in the warmer months around the corner.)

Further Reading: Four Cups of Coffee a Day Associated with Modest Loss of Body Fat | News | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Those of us who already enjoy coffee don’t need a reason to grab a cup in the morning, but knowing all the advantages can make you feel even better about that daily routine. For anyone who has yet to find themselves in the coffee camp, these health benefits are an eye-opener to what awaits you (in moderation, of course). Fine print: The FDA considers 400mg of caffeine to be in the safe range for healthy adults, which equals about 4 to 5 cups, depending on the size of the coffee cup you drink it from.

If you’re like me and frequently have coffee before running or working out, you’re no doubt already familiar with the performance boost it can provide. Uncovering the ‘secrets’ of this secret weapon sheds a lot of light on why coffee is the ultimate sports drink; all the other health benefits are just a bonus. Cheers!

Eric BartoszEric Bartosz is the founder of BAR40 and the author of the internationally acclaimed and bestselling book ‘BAR40: Achieving Personal Excellence.’ He lives in Center Valley with his wife Trish, daughter Riley and pug Piper, is an adjunct MBA professor at DeSales University and serves the community as an Upper Saucon firefighter, a board member of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lehigh Valley and a local race organizer. Eric is a 20+ year runner and racer and can often be found logging miles on the Saucon Rail TrailCatch up on Eric’s latest Bar Talk columns here.


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Eric Bartosz

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