Is Caffeine the Ultimate Performance Enhancer for Cyclists?

More than 450 million cups of coffee are consumed in the United States each day, proving just how popular the beverage is across the country. However, as coffee is widely consumed for its well-known caffeine kick by many, those who have an active lifestyle may reap added benefits from their morning cup of joe. With that said, here’s what you need to know when it comes to caffeine consumption as a cyclist. Regardless if you are on a road bike or a mountain bike, a cup of coffee might hold more than just an energy boost.

The benefits of caffeine
If you received a coffee-related gift for Christmas or Valentine’s Day — such as an instant coffee or cold brew maker — you may be excited to start using it, and with good reason. The caffeine in coffee has several well-known health benefits that go far beyond a kick of energy. For example, it can boost your mood, memory, and other mental functions (like reaction times). These benefits can prove to be useful for most anyone who drinks the beverage, though caffeine may also hold some especially appealing benefits for those who live an active lifestyle. 

Caffeine has been known to aid in weight loss, as it’s a natural fat burner, and has even been a popular performance enhancer among athletes. This is mainly because research shows that caffeine can significantly improve physical performance for athletes, and may even increase muscle strength — something that can be especially valuable for cyclists. Using power meters, heart rate monitors and other biofeedback related bike parts can offer visibility to these fitness gains. However, does that mean you should only be drinking coffee in preparation for training or even a competition?

Maintaining a healthy balance 
As the age-old saying goes, too much of anything can be a bad thing — coffee included. While the popular drink is well regarded for its numerous health and performance-enhancing benefits, there are some things to consider. One study found that the regular intake of caffeine may actually desensitize people to the performance-enhancing benefits, meaning that you can become immune, making drinking coffee can be less effective if you drink it regularly. 

If you do choose to make coffee a part of your cycling routine, it’s therefore important to maintain a healthy balance of other liquids as well. In order to fight dehydration while cycling, your body will need much more than a cup or two of coffee. For such reasons, it’s important to drink plenty of water, and replenish your electrolytes with appropriate sports drinks throughout the day, too. Having a healthy diet is also important, as drinking coffee on an empty stomach can bring unwanted side effects such as jitters, shaking, and can even increase symptoms of anxiety, which isn’t something you want on the day of a race.

Coffee is a popular beverage around the world, probably because of the effects of the caffeine involved. For cyclists, this can mean a range of health benefits in addition to performance enhancement, though it’s important to realize that you can become immune to these advantages if it’s not consumed as part of a healthy, balanced diet.

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