You know about the wonders of coffee. Of course you do. Every morning you suckle at the blessed, godgiven teat of the coffeemaker, waiting for enough caffeine to enter your bloodstream to the point where you can unglue your eyelids from each other and shave your legs without accidentally circumcising yourself. You are well aware of caffeine’s restorative, regenerative properties. They’re the same ones that allow you to spend an entire day in an office, surrounded by people you hate, without tearing your own skin off and using it as a parachute to escape from the 11th floor of your building. But lately, there’s been some debate in the fitness world about using coffee for more than just its daily task of making you capable of tolerating other human beings. Can coffee be used as a pre-workout supplement?
There are lots of products on the market that are designed specifically to be consumed before a workout. They have names like “Craze” and “Muscle Pharm” and “Stallion Jizz,” and they purport to turn you into some sort of manic wildebeest whose muscular frenzy can neither be stopped nor contained. They often include caffeine and usually sugar, but sometimes include B-vitamins, or chemicals that claim to increase blood flow. Basically, preworkout is what would happen if 5-hour energy got bitten by a radioactive spider. And its parents were dead. That’s right; it would become a vengeance-fueled killing machine with a sense of justice. Or a nasty-tasting swill that will increase your heart rate until you begin to bruise through your skin, and possibly also get you high.
So! What, you may ask, do these supplements do that coffee will not do? And I would shout with vigor, “NOTHING!” Coffee will give you the same energy and focus that these expensive drinks will. Of course, many of us like our coffee with cream and sugar. Cream is full of fat, and lacks the carbs that would give you lasting energy during a workout, so skip the cream. And sugar will give you a rush that will last for fifteen glorious minutes before smashing you to the ground like a greasy WWE wrestler. If the taste of black coffee is intolerable to you, may I suggest stevia (a natural, zero-calorie sweetener with a low glycemic index) and coffeemate (a low-fat non-dairy creamer substitute)? I promise it doesn’t taste that different.
If you have a hard time getting motivated and pumped up before the gym, I encourage you to pop a vitamin and enjoy a nice cup of joe at least a half hour beforehand. You’ll be awake, alive, alert and aware. Caffeine is caffeine – you don’t need to get it from some weird energy potion. Plus, coffee is full of antioxidants! You can fight cancer at the same time you’re fighting your fat! It’s a win-win, really.