Coffee is one of the most consumed beverages around the globe. And I am sure most of us are drinking it almost every day.
But one question comes up? Will the coffee improve your cycling performance?
The answer is yes. Coffee and all drinks that have caffeine inside can boost your athletic performance and overall power in many sports, especially in cycling.
In this article, I will cover all you need to know about how caffeine affects cyclists and how you can optimize your coffee intake to boost your overall cycling performance.
Table of Contents
Does Coffee Help with Your Cycling Performance?
In order to understand how coffee affects our performance first, we need to dive into the science a little bit.
I promise it will be very simple.
As we all know, coffee contains caffeine.
Caffeine has a similar structure to a substance called adenosine. Which is a molecule that has a calming effect on your central nervous system and makes you feel sleepy.
Basically, caffeine’s job is to block adenosine which then stimulates your nerves causing all kinds of hyperactive activities. Such as increased blood pressure and a rise in body temperature.
Is coffee going to improve my performance while cycling?
According to scientific studies, coffee can improve both short and long-term performance. This means you will be a little bit faster and have better endurance.
From 21 studies, the average speed increase was 3.2%, which is a significant increase in performance.
The positive effects of coffee on cycling performance are not only short-term but are also long-term.
This meta-analysis study looked at 40 double-blind studies and come to the conclusion that caffeine intake has a huge impact on cycling endurance even more so than a short-term exercise.
Which is no surprise to me. Of course, a substance that wakes you up will also give you an edge during hard activities.
But not every person reacts the same to caffeine.
Some people don’t even benefit from drinking it.
This study on caffeine and endurance performance had subjects complete-time trials with different caffeine intakes.
And results showed that caffeine improves overall performance.
However when you break down people by their genotype.
The study concluded that people who quickly metabolize caffeine showed an increase in performance, and those who slowly metabolize caffeine showed a decline in performance.
It’s clear from the examples that coffee works differently for different people, so try a little experiment to see if this is the case for you.
How Much Coffee Should I Drink Before Cycling?
Now let’s see how much coffee you need to drink in order to see the best results.
You probably don’t need as much as you think you do.
Two cups of coffee are probably all you need to get a boost in cycling performance, that’s around 3-6 mg/kg body weight (300 to 400mg for the average person).
You want to keep in mind that coffee is not the only source of caffeine.
These days, caffeine can be found in a variety of drinks and snacks, such as energy drinks, bars, and gels.
You should not exceed the caffeine intake limit because it can harm you at that point.
In addition, if you consume caffeine regularly, your body might become accustomed to it and not have the same effects.
If you want to change that and have the same benefits of caffeine again, you can do a caffeine detox for 7 or 10 days.
How Long Before Cycling Should I Dring Coffe?
Now let’s talk about timing.
Is it better to drink coffee before or during the ride?
According to most research, you should drink coffee 30-60 minutes before riding to let the caffeine get into your bloodstream.
However, you should drink it during the ride as well. If you are going on a multi-hour ride you should spread out your intake evenly for the best performance results.
Also, you want to keep in mind your bedtime.
If you are cycling in the afternoon you shouldn’t drink much coffee cause it can ruin your sleep.
And thus ruin your whole recovery.
I’ve found that if I consume caffeine whit in 5 hours of going to bed I don’t sleep well.
Bonus Tip: Save your caffeine for the hardest part of a ride, for example, cyclists on the tour de France often save their energy gel for the biggest uphill climb of the race.
You shouldn’t forget the importance of drinking water. Many people just drink coffee for more energy, but they forget how crucial it is to stay hydrated, especially in summer.
Is it OK to Drink Coffee After Cycling?
What about drinking coffee when the ride is finished?
Drinking coffee after a ride is good because it forms mussel glycogen which is the main fuel of muscles.
Also, Coffee does help prolong the effects of a workout and helps you burn more calories, which is great if you’re trying to lose weight.
However, coffee is not the best recovery drink.
The best thing you can do after a long exhausting ride is to drink water or electrolyte drinks.
When cycling you are losing too much water and minerals through sweat so you need to replace them somehow.
And the best way to do it is by drinking water with electrolytes inside.
We all want to be faster and have more endurance on our bike rides.
And coffee and other supplements can help us do that.
But we can’t forget the most important thing which is training. Riding your bike regularly and exercising every day can help you the most when it comes to improving your performance.
I hope this article was helpful!