You know that girl, the one with a Starbucks cup stashed in the cup holder of the elliptical during her a.m. sweat sesh? Admit it: you’ve judged her. But, turns out, she might be on to something. Drinking a couple cups of coffee before a workout could actually make it feel more enjoyable, according to new research published in the Journal of Applied Physiology.
The study basically simulated your average morning: a mug of coffee to wake up, a little gym time, another cup with breakfast, followed by lunch. Fourteen participants completed two moderate workouts on a stationary bike: one where they took caffeine (equal to two 8-ounce cups of coffee or 4 cups of black tea) 90 minutes before the workout, and one where they took a placebo. When caffeinated, the participants reported the ride as way easier than it was without the stimulant.
But wait—there’s more! The researchers also examined how that caffeine affected eating habits later in the day by treating the subjects to a sandwich buffet and tracking their calories consumed. When caffeinated pre-workout, subjects ate about 72 calories less than when they had the placebo. Moral of the story: caffeine makes your workout more fun and keeps you from overindulging later in the day. Cheers to that!
In addition, enjoying the workout more was associated with eating less. The same brain chemicals that affect exercise enjoyment may also affect appetite, Schubert told Yahoo Health.
While the study used pure caffeine, you’ll probably see a similar effect with coffee or caffeinated tea. Just make sure to take your java black, Schubert said, adding, “You can easily offset the caloric benefits with a grande Frappuccino or mocha latte.”