KEY POINTS

  • A study found that drinking strong coffee at least half an hour before exercising could increase the rate of fat loss
  • Ingesting caffeine "increased maximum fat oxidation during exercise regardless of the time of day," researchers say
  • However, results showed this method is more effective for afternoon workouts than morning sessions

A strong cup of coffee before a workout could significantly boost fat loss, a new study has suggested.

Caffeine (about 3 mg/kg, the equivalent of a strong coffee) increases the rate of fat-burning when ingested at least 30 minutes before aerobic exercise, according to researchers from the Department of Physiology of the University of Granada (UGR). The study also found that when combined with coffee ingestion, working out in the afternoon is more effective than exercising in the morning.

The study, which was published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, aimed to find out whether or not caffeine, a widely consumed ergogenic substance to improve physical performance and stamina, actually does increase oxidation or the burning of fat during exercise. 

"The recommendation to exercise on an empty stomach in the morning to increase fat oxidation is commonplace. However, this recommendation may be lacking a scientific basis, as it is unknown whether this increase is due to exercising in the morning or due to going without food for a longer period of time," lead author Francisco José Amaro-Gahete of the UGR's Department of Physiology said in a press release on the university's website.

The researchers examined 15 men with an average age of 32 for the month-long experiment. The participants completed an exercise test four times at seven-day intervals while ingesting either 3 mg/kg of caffeine or a placebo at 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

The conditions before each exercise test were strictly standardized. The scientists controlled how many hours passed between meals and how many stimulants participants consumed before each workout session.

Through the experiment, they found that ingesting caffeine half an hour before an aerobic exercise test "increased maximum fat oxidation during exercise regardless of the time of day," Francisco J. Amaro said.

Results of the study showed that there is a significant difference in fat oxidation depending on what time of the day caffeine is ingested. Fat burning levels were higher for afternoon workouts compared to those in the morning. While caffeine does still help in boosting fat loss during morning exercise sessions, the rate is only equal to that of an afternoon workout without caffeine.

The researchers concluded that the combination of acute caffeine intake and aerobic exercise performed at moderate intensity in the afternoon provides the best scenario for people who are aiming to shed some pounds through physical exercise.

Aside from boosting fat burning, studies have said that coffee lowers the risk for type 2 diabetes, Parkinson's disease, liver disease and liver cancer.

A 2014 study led by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers found that those who increased their coffee consumption by at least one cup per day had an 11% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who did not increase their intake.

Marijuana coffee is a hit with locals in Indonesia's Aceh province and buyers in other parts of the Southeast Asian archipelago, who pay 1.0 million rupiah ($75) for a kilo of it Marijuana coffee is a hit with locals in Indonesia's Aceh province and buyers in other parts of the Southeast Asian archipelago, who pay 1.0 million rupiah ($75) for a kilo of it Photo: AFPTV / Bagus SARAGIH