Use Coffee for Energy to Exercise? It might not give you as much energy as you think.

In a recent study, researchers wanted to find out whether a morning cup o’ joe actually influenced a person’s daily energy expenditures. So they did a triple blind clinical trial. A triple blind study is one in which neither the subject nor the person administering the treatment nor the person evaluating the response to treatment knows which treatment any particular subject is receiving. So, no one knew anything about anything so that the outcome could not be influenced.

Because let’s face it – the power of suggestion is extremely powerful and if someone were to tell me, “hey, Christina, we’re going to give you five free cups of Starbucks every day to see if you increase your daily activity,” I might be extra energetic just because I’m getting free Starbucks!

Anyway, these test subjects did not get free Starbucks. Instead, they got caffeine pills. Not nearly as glamorous, but science is not known for it’s glitz and bling!

Here are the details of the study.

  • The study group received two caffeine pills, one for breakfast and one for lunch. The control group received a placebo.
  • A third group – a blind cross-over group – received one caffeine pill and one placebo pill.
  • The daily activity of the groups was measured by accelerometry.
  • Height, weight, age, BMI, fat mass, and fat-free mass were recorded.

Here’s what the study researchers said about their findings – don’t worry, I’ll translate it:

It is well known that caffeine works as an ergogenic substance for the central nervous system [10], then it would be expected an increase on daily PA, specifically the daily low intensity activities [40]. Unexpectedly, our novel finding revealed that a moderate dose of caffeine ingestion, corresponding to approximately 5 espresso cups of coffee (30 mL each) or 7 servings of tea, with each containing nearly 75 mg of caffeine had no effect on PAEE, the time spent in LIPA and MVPA, and the daily number of short bouts of both LIPA and MVPA intensities.

Translation: Common knowledge says that caffeine gives us energy, so it would be expected that this study would prove that to be true. However, this study found that taking a moderate amount of caffeine (5 cups of espresso or 7 servings of tea) had no effect on physical activity energy expenditures, the amount of time people spend doing low intensity physical activity or moderate to vigorous physical activity, and the daily number of activities people perform.

So, if you’re depending upon your latte to give you energy in the morning – you may want to reconsider.

Try waking up ten minutes earlier and doing some jumping jacks, light stretching, a few push-ups and some squats. You’ll probably get a greater boost of energy and you’ll be inching yourself closer to a healthier, happier, more fit body!

I’ll be starting up a brand new series of online health and fitness boot camps! You can get a FREE preview by joining one of my Brown Bag Series Hangouts where you’ll learn what’s in your pantry that could be making you and your kids sick.

Join the September 18th Hangout.

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