Certain beverages have star reps as pre- and post-workout drinks, like flavored fitness water, regular H2O, and even chocolate milk. Now add a cup of coffee to the list. A new study published in the journal PLOS ONE found that contrary to what nutritionists have long thought, coffee does not dehydrate you.
Instead of leeching water from your system and making you feel dehydrated and dragged, it actually hydrates and energizes you. In fact, coffee is as hydrating as water. And that applies when coffee is consumed before or after a gym session, too, says Boston-based sports nutritionist Nancy Clark, MS, RD, author of Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook.
In fact, coffee has an edge over those other performance drinks. The caffeine it naturally contains kick-starts your central nervous system, cranking your energy higher than if you drank plain water or another sports drink. “Research shows that consuming caffeine before a workout can help you work out harder and longer, yet you don’t perceive that you’re exerting yourself more than usual,” explains Clark.
Coffee can also serve as a solid recovery drink, replenishing your system with fluid lost via sweat while jolting your post-gym energy levels so you don’t feel tired and nod off at work or during dinner, says Clark. One 12-16 ounce coffee before or after your workout is all you need to get the energy and hydration benefits, she says.