To Caffeinate or Not to Caffeinate Before Working Out

Many people use coffee or some other source of caffeine as a pre-workout. There is a common belief that coffee helps one perform better in athletic pursuits. Is this true? Well, an intriguing new study has arrived that demonstrates that for some people, coffee does indeed boost athletic performance. On the other hand, some people perform worse after drinking coffee. Which category you fall into depends on one thing: a gene called CYP1A2.

CYP1A2 has been known to scientists for a while now. Among other things, it affects how the human body processes caffeine. So, how does this work? First of all, there are two different variants of this gene. Everyone has two copies of CYP1A2, one from each parent. You might have two copies of variant one, two copies of variant two, or one of each variant. The particular combination you have determines whether you are a fast, slow, or moderate metabolizer of caffeine. Fast metabolizers tend to be the best at tolerating caffeine.

For this recent study, scientists wanted to know how coffee affected athletic performance for different types of caffeine metabolizers. They got 100 volunteers and gave them caffeine or a placebo before going on an exercise bike. They found that the fast metabolizers had a significant improvement in athletic performance when they had drunk caffeine. The slow metabolizers, on the other hand, did significantly worse on the athletic test.

Should you drink caffeine before working out? It depends on which gene variants you have.

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