Does a cup of morning coffee help with cardio?


Caffeine, as we explained in our article “4 benefits of caffeine in sports,” is a substance that can really help improve athletic performance and wake up your nervous system.


¿Café en ayunas para hacer cardio?


But can a cup of coffee before your cardio workout actually help burn fat? Yes, it can. Here’s how it works.

During the last phase of sleep, before you wake up, you generate human growth hormone, which facilitates the circulation of free fatty acids from your fat stores, making them more likely to be used as fuel as opposed to carbohydrates (glycogen) or lean muscle.

When you ingest caffeine, your body releases an enzyme called lipase, which prioritizes the metabolization of free fatty acids from your fat stores over carbohydrates (glycogen) for fuel.

These two things together encourage your body to burn fat for energy instead of glycogen or lean muscle. It’s why downing a cup of morning coffee before a low-intensity cardio workout can help enhance your workout and accelerate fat loss over time.

Also, when you do cardio work in the morning on an empty stomach, it makes your body more insulin sensitive. Insulin resistance is linked to increased body fat.



The disadvantages

1. High-intensity cardio workouts can be dangerous on an empty stomach, even without caffeine. If your morning workout consists of anaerobic exercise, you won’t be using fatty acids as fuel and will rapidly deplete your glycogen reserves. You’ll be burning calories, but a better time for that is later in the day.


2. If your cardio workout on an empty stomach is too long, you run the risk of damaging muscle tissue through the action of catabolic hormones in your body.


3. Caffeine is a diuretic, so be sure to drink plenty of water before and after your workout to compensate for any water loss caused by caffeine and prevent dehydration.



With regard to how much coffee you should drink, we recommend that you drink around two cups (approximately 200 mg of caffeine), straight without any sugar or cream.

Many athletes use this method to lose weight rapidly and compete in lower categories, as well as beginning weight lifters in the definition phase. They also normally take anticatabolic sports supplements like glutamine or BCAAs (more information on these substances can be found in other articles on our blog).

We recommend that you limit your pre-breakfast cardio sessions to no more than 3 times a week initially, until your body gets used to it.

As you can see, there are lots of different ways to exercise and lose weight. The method we’ve discussed today is just one of them.

With the method, we help you achieve your goals.

Register now for free by clicking here, if you haven’t done so already, and take advantage of your very own customized exercise plan to:


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  • Catherine

    Tomar café a cualquier hora del día es muy dañino, me llama la atención que lo fomenten en esta página, puesto que constituye un acidificante de primera categoría además de causar daños a nivel de sistema nervioso.
    Es una droga como lo es el azúcar, las harinas blancas, el alcohol, el té, entre otras susntacias.
    Puedes lograr un cuerpo dinámico, ágil y definido con el simple hecho de conectar con la natural dinámica del organismo.
    Movimiento y conexión, eso es todo.
    No usar sustancias que además, están asociadas a la pérdida de minerales y al envejecimiento prematuro.

    • FranRodriguez

      Catherine, existen multitud de beneficios comprobados sobre el café que pesan más que los efectos adversos.

      Todo en exceso es malo, y la cafeína a altas dosis con frecuencia puede causar insomnio y trastornos ligeros del sistema nervioso.

      Con este artículo queremos resaltar la importancia de esta sustancia en el organismo como “quemador de grasa” natural.

      Y por supuesto abogamos por una alimentación sana y equilibrada.

      Un saludo.


    Muy interesante el artículo Fran, aqui os dejamos algunos datos más sobre esta “polémica” sustancia y sus efectos tanto en el deporte como fuera de él.

  • Óscar Picazo

    More than caffeine, the beneficial effect comes from sporting fasted:

  • Lucie Buissereth

    Hi Stephanie! Finally another person who does as I do! A strong cup of coffee before cardio in the Am is the absolute best, however,it’s not for everyone! I’m not one who believes in the breakfast before workout…but that’s just me! ..and yes, I do believe that the caffeine revs up ones metabolism to aid in fat burn!

  • Mike Wurmlinger

    Check out Spark from Advocare…. great product the pro’s use. Allot better then coffee and you get the caffine.

    Look at Post-Workout Recovery, Catalyst, O2 Gold, Spark energy drink, Rehydrate, Arginine and Meal replacement. It answers to allot of the things you said to be careful of.

  • Dean Frabasilio

    Great to do, and will speed metabolism for rest of day, especially next 4 hours. Add l-carn. ,and will burn even more bodyfat.

  • Ephedra Diets

    If you want to burn fat, the combine caffeine with ephedrine. Caffeine and Ephedrine by themselves are good but combined, they become a fat burner, appetite suppressant, concentration and breathing enhancers, muscle sparer, and energizer. It is proven by science. I recommend the Mini Lean 25/100 as it has 25mg ephedrine and 100mg caffeine. That is all you will need for your goals. You can get it at
    Beware of fake ephedra without ephedrine alkaloids sold elsewhere.

  • Dennis Wilson

    BURNING FAT WITH CARDIO – ok, if the goal is to burn fat to reduce weight, or to burn fat to be more energy efficient, it really isnt critical if you have coffee or not. “MOST” people would be classified as mid to low intensity cardio for their workouts. and yes some studies have come out saying that caffeine helps your body to prioritize fat as fuel, however MOST people are looking for shortcuts. if you are consistent with your training, and use moderation in how you train, you will lose weight gradually, (which is easier on your body), and over time you will see improvement in speed &/or distance. rely less on articles telling you about “shortcuts”, and rely more on working out more consistently and in moderation! it’s good to read about what others do, and what new studies say, but take everything with a grain of salt, (& no this is NOT another way to replace electrolytes!) :-)
    i’ve been running & racing since 1970, and have a marathon PR of 2;17.

    • Mike Wurmlinger

      Dennis to your point The Advocare Catalsyt helps by keeping the body from going after the muscle and using the store fat for fuel. I’m new into things but know my personal results and read the science from Dr. Robert Hackmen, head of the research of Advocare.

      • Dennis Wilson

        mike, maybe this works for you, but for the general population, fat loss/muscle building products are NOT needed if the exerciser has a sound & balanced exercise program in conjunction with sound & balanced dietary habits. this is MY “opinion” & developed over 41 years of exercise, & very high level competition. i’d rather spend the $27 on new running shorts!
        the $27 is for 90 tablets, recommended to take 3 tablets between meals, or 6 tablets a day, for a 15 day supply? my running shorts will last alot longer than 15 days!

        • Mike Wurmlinger

          Dennis, Thanks for the your opinion. This is the stuff allot of pro’s are using. The endorers are not paid. I myself would not pay $27 bucks for running shorts but for how I feel using these products is worth it cmpaired to how I felt. I don’t use 6 tabs a day either. I see it as some of a good thing is better then a 1970′s methods.

          • Dennis Wilson

            hi mike, & glad to hear you arent using the recommended dose, (most supplements recommend way too much). and yes, i am stating my “opinions”, but these are based on 41 years of training, learning, & modifying, all by a combination of Phys ed degree, coaching input, training partners input, and thousands of miles & calories of trial & error.
            and please dont think that a well balanced nutrition coupled with a well balanced training program is “1970′s methods”. ask the pro athletes you referred to, and ask them if they pay or get the supplements for free. generally with true “pro” athletes, these types of items are “comped”.

  • Chris Boucher

    Coffee before a workout is great. I like having a black coffee about 30 min before exercise. Not because of the fat burning but because of the little bit of extra energy you get. It’s not for everyone though. I have clients who are way to jittery after even an 8 oz cup. Let alone a 14 oz size from any coffee house. Also… Your body will burn whatever it needs for energy at whatever intensity your at. You don’t burn more fat (during the workout) for energy at 90% intensity just because you have a coffee or an empty stomach.

  • Timoteo

    A high caffeine drink like guayusa which has a more complex set of xanthine stimulant (both caffeine and theobromines). This will give you a longer lasting stimulative effect. Guayusa has a soft, smooth, clean taste. Like green tea. I do a lot of long distance cycling and mix it up double strength add a little salt, then pour it into a 20 oz ice filled water bottle. It is the perfect early AM bike ride drink. My second and third bottles are usually Gatorade G2. This is all I need for 60 to 70 miles and I feel great when done. You can find guayusa at

    Now in machine translation to Spanish (ahora en la traducción automática al español :-)
    una bebida de alta cafeína como la guayusa, que tiene un conjunto más complejo de la xantina estimulante (cafeína y teobrominas). esto le dará un efecto de estimulación de más larga duración. guayusa tiene un suave sabor suave y limpio. como el té verde. Hago un montón de ciclismo de larga distancia y se mezcla hasta doble fuerza añadir una pequeña cantidad de sal, luego se vierte en una botella de 20 onzas de hielo llena de agua. es la perfecta moto beber temprano en la mañana paseo. mis botellas de segunda y tercera son por lo general gatorade g2. Esto es todo lo necesario para 60 a 70 millas y me siento muy bien cuando haya terminado. usted puede encontrar guayusa en

  • Paige Baker

    Coffee is great before an a.m. workout but your body may need to adjust to it. No increase in fat burn but will you will dig into stored energy rather than calories just ingested.

  • Catherine Matsalla

    wow… Dennis and Mike – I think you should have a run off…

    Here is my two bits: you should have something in your stomach – of substance – when you run. I know protein is hard to digest but I have a small piece of cheese (and coffee- if I have time- only because I am a coffee lover and for no other reason) before I run. And I have a highly sensitive stomach- especially for dairy but I have never had a problem! I also take a little hemp oil with it – I know that sounds terrible but it is a great example of how everyone is different. Or you could have half an orange or banana. You need to experiment for yourself of course. I am training for an ironman and I keep to the same discipline on a bike/run brick or a three discipline day. I must have something solid in my stomach at the beginning of a workout. I could quote all kinds of studies but just trust me on this one. And then bring your fuel for the bike and run- that you need and have calculated and tested for just you. It will all work out. PS I do take supplements that include amino acids and extra protein of course. I also eat my carbs and protein at different times during the day and according to my workouts. Experiment and you will find the secret for your success.

  • A T (Tim) Sullivan

    I agree a bit of stimulant can jump start that early AM workout. A high caffeine drink like guayusa which has a more complex set of xanthine stimulant (both caffeine and theobromines). This will give you a longer lasting stimulative effect. Guayusa has a soft, smooth taste. A bit like green tea. I do a long distance cycling and make guayusa up double strength add a little salt, then pour it into a 20 oz ice filled water bottle. It is the perfect early AM bike ride drink. My second and third bottles are usually Gatorade G2. This is all I need for 60 to 70 miles and I feel great when done. You can find guayusa in the USA at a a few smaller importers.

  • Dave Pahl

    Great article Stephanie. I believe we need to be more aware of our nutrition and what it is doing inside us when we exercise, or not. The good thing about this article is that it gives both sides of the story, ie. when it is a good thing and when not.

  • Jason Atkins

    The body can’t burn fat without the presence of carbohydrate, you may want to try fruit juice instead

  • Rik Heller

    I too drink coffee and run or bike. Rarely do i eat until midday . Doctor says i must be burning liver juice (?). When i do intervals i’ll use gu or shot blocks after 30 minutes. Those always have some effect on performance but even more so on the feeling of well being … for me.

  • Tom Neill

    ‘d have to say most of the runners I’ve seen at races or around the streets and trails are not carrying excess fat. So let’s not get paranoid about this essential part of the body (skin is made of it, hormones are based on cholesterol etc). If you run regularly, you probably don’t need to focus on burning fat (unless you eat too much of it). Ultra running has shown me one thing – if you don’t put fuel in the machine it stops working (see what happens when you do that in your car). The body is different, it starts to eat itself. Like I say if you don’t have excess fat then the body has to find it’s fuel somewhere. Just like those old movies of steam trains where they end up burning the carriages to keep going, you damage your body if you go too far without fuel. After a night’s sleep much of your carbs are gone, and if there’s not much fat to access, you have to burn something else.
    Really you should front-load your calorie intake and burn off through the day – at the very least make sure you eat something when you get back from your morning run. And get back to eating ordinary healthy food – I gave up eating all that expensive, heavily marketed, running-specific junk years ago and have been able to run at least as far.

    • Matthew Williams

      Well said Tom. I drink coffee sometimes before the workout but find that I need to mix up my pre-snack run or workout. Sometimes just coffee dries my mouth and the taste doesnt leave. Also, not a fan of burping back coffee while running/training. I also need some type of fuel in my body before training to keep me going and hydration is obviously important during the runninrun or workout. Adhering to a quick snack of a carb/energy source and making sure to eat after have allowed me to benefit. Enjoy the day!

  • Steve Bentley

    Been coaching Ironman triathletes and marathon runners for over 20 years now. Fat is a great buffer system for holding onto acidity and impurities in our body. Helps to keep us healthy. It’s also a great source of energy assuming we don’t try to go too hard (fat likes oxygen present when you’re burning it so going anaerobic kicks us into the glycogen energy systems. I found that helping your body get more alkaline AND releasing impurities at a cellular level frees up the fat so you can access that at a higher intensity level for a longer period of time. Going too hard though bumps you away from primarily fat burning and into glycogen burning. Glycogen can only last so long though as your liver and muscles can only store so much glycogen (about 2500-3000 calories worth). Fat supplies though are pretty much unlimited (as you can tell from looking around next time you’re in a crowd). Totally true that as athletes we don’t carry as much fat, which makes it even more important to get alkaline and release the junk in our systems. I’m around 6%bf and have about 60,000 calories of fat on me. Of course I’m not ever going to go thru all that but I like the idea of being able to readily access a portion of that 60k rather than relying on a limited 2.5-3k of glycogen.

  • iphone 5 photos

    Saved like a favored, I actually like your website!

  • Charles Horn

    Good post for trainers dealing with general populations that are wanting to improve their physique but still would like to enjoy a good cup of coffee. That article is a really good find.

  • James Dando

    Yes it will. With an empty stomach, though you are better being fully hydrated with nuun or such like. Anymore (depending on fitness and experience) than 1.5-2 hrs will require fuel to maximise your training.


    Saludos! A mí me ha servido y sugiero, el Taebo con Billy Blanks. Hago ejercicio sola en un cuarto o la sala, con la computadora para poner el video en Youtube. Pongo los 5 videos cardio que tiene y me han ayudado a bajar de talla el último mes

  • Richard

    Drinking coffee before a run can truly transform your experience. I recommend Starbucks French Roast. AKA “Jet Fuel.” Coffee should not be counted as a fuel source, but it sure is a wonderful performance enhancement drug for me!

  • Kathleen

    Try a nonfat latte before running if you think milk won’t upset your stomach. It has a few carbs & some protein, and is only about 100 cals if you get a small size.

  • Grace

    Have you tried Vega Sport Pre-workout Energizer the lemon-lime is the best. Also the Recovery Accelerator is great too.

  • Richard

    The way to utilize fats as fuel is to go longer and slower. You have train your body to do this. Glycogen is good but to go long efficiently you need to be able to burn fat for fuel. How do you train your body? By running longer and slower. Low heart rate if you use a HRM. 60-65%.

  • spencer

    Interesting arguments above, caffiene when using 100mg or more will help mobilise more fat for energy, this will then help keep your glycogen levels from being used up to quickly, this only really matters if you are doing cardio for over an hour as up until then your glycogen levels should be more than adequate to keep you going