- Caffeine may help burn more fat during exercise, according to a new study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, especially during afternoon exercise. The triple-blind study used caffeine dissolved in water so that the participants were unaware of what they were ingesting.
- Study participants were given either caffeine or a placebo before exercise. Some exercised in the morning while others exercised in the afternoon after 4 p.m. Those who worked out in the afternoon with caffeine burned fat at a 29% higher rate than those who had a placebo.
- Several major CPG companies — like PepsiCo's recent Mtn Dew energy drink launch — have increased the caffeine intake in their products recently as the pandemic has boosted consumer demand for the energy boost. According to a study from the International Food Information Council, 28% of respondents are drinking more caffeinated beverages in 2020.
This new study may be a boon for caffeinated beverage makers, who can tout the additional functional benefits of the natural stimulant can bring to their products during a time when people are looking to eat healthier.
Although the study pinpointed caffeinated exercise in the afternoon as the prime way to burn fat, there are some important limitations to note about research. There are wide-ranging differences when it comes to fitness levels, medical conditions, diet, gender and other factors that could skew the study results. Each individual may also have specific factors to consider when choosing the best pre-workout beverage or the best time of day to sweat it out.
Researchers have identified a variety of other health benefits associated with drinking coffee in moderation including preventing Alzheimer’s disease, strokes, colon cancer and heart disease thanks to the antioxidants that it contains. Coffee drinkers are also less likely to die from certain diseases or to develop Type 2 diabetes. Dark roast coffee has been shown to reduce breakage in DNA strands.
Other research has dispelled notions around the over-consumption of caffeine. A study from the Queen Mary University of London concluded that drinking as many as 25 cups of coffee a day is not as harmful to the heart and circulatory system as previously thought.
This all adds up to good news for the growing list of food manufacturers who are pouring more time and money into conjuring up coffee-focused beverages. Chobani recently expanded into the beverage segment with a cold brew coffee drink featuring varieties with plant-based creamers, flavored cream and a no-sugar/no-dairy option. In 2019, PepsiCo unveiled a limited edition coffee-infused cola called Pepsi Café. In July last year, Coca-Cola followed suit and debuted a trio of coffee-flavored soda hybrids in the U.S. that hit shelves this past January.
If retailers are aiming to capture caffeine’s benefits as a workout booster, they’ll need to examine whether coffee is the right flavor profile for the job. The sports drink segment is brimming with a variety of beverages that boast benefits like speedy recovery, replenishing electrolytes and enhancing overall wellness. Some athletes and exercises may not associate the taste of coffee with a sweat session, particularly if they workout in the afternoon or evening.
If exercisers are looking to capture the study’s benefits to burn more fat, higher caffeine beverages may be their preferred drink of choice over coffee. To that end, PepsiCo recently launched a LeBron James-backed energy drink that packs twice the amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee along with vitamins and antioxidants aimed at early risers.
Coffee consumption climbed 5% between 2015 and 2020, according to the National Coffee Association’s Atlas of American Coffee. Seven out of 10 consumers drink coffee each week while 62% brew up a cup every day. The average American coffee drinker consumes slightly more than three cups a day.