“The best part of waking up…” Ah… we, as a society, have a super serious love affair going on with our coffee, don’t we?! Coffee is our survival juice… it smells like magic and fairytales. Coffee keeps the grumpy away, and helps us get sh!t done today! What would life be, without coffee?! We never want to find out. So, show of hands: how many of you drink coffee as your pre-workout beverage of choice!?

When we think of “pre-workout drinks,” a powder mixed with water that makes us feel all flushed and tingly comes to mind. True, these powder drinks can make us feel like we need to crawl out of our skin… but that extra boost we get in our workout is so addicting, we don’t mind!

But let’s talk about those cups o’ joe that get us through our work days. What about swapping out our standard pre-workout mix for drinking java before our workouts? What are the workout benefits to coffee?

We all love our coffee because of the kick of caffeine, right?! That wide-awake feeling it gives us… where we can feel our bodies shift into overdrive, and we become uber focused and productive. It’s the best! But, what exactly is happening? “Caffeine has powerful nootropic effects, meaning it manipulates neurotransmitters to alter how the brain functions. While we all think of caffeine as a stimulant, it doesn’t directly stimulate as much as it prevents or blocks the action of neurotransmitters that promote sedation and relaxation,” according to Dr. Mike Roussell, a diet doctor writing for Shape Magazine.

“Your pre-workout caffeine-packed cup of coffee isn’t just going to give you the mental edge, though—it will also help you burn more fat. The exact mechanism in which caffeine works to enhance fat-burning has yet to be conclusively nailed down (as it probably works via several different mechanisms), but it primarily seems to work by increasing the breakdown and release of fat.” says Roussell. SCORE!

Tons of studies have been conducted, in efforts to demonstrate a link between caffeine intake before a workout and athletic ability. A report published in Sports Medicine refers to caffeine as a “powerful ergogenic aid,” and mentions that athletes can “train at a greater power output and/or train longer” after caffeine consumption. Another study published in the British Journal of Sports Science found that subjects who consumed coffee before running 1,500 meters on the treadmill completed their run 4.2 seconds faster than the control group, on average. To gain an extra edge in your training sessions, coffee might be just what you need. (via Men’s Fitness)

So, if you’re going to enjoy a little latte before hitting the gym, Heidi Skolnik, M.S., a sports nutritionist and owner of Nutrition Conditioning, Inc. has a little advice. As with anything, timing is everything. “Caffeine is quickly absorbed from the stomach within 15 to 45 minutes of consumption, but it hits its peak stimulatory effects between 30 and 75 minutes,” she says. Drinking a cup about one hour before you work out is optimal.” This is particularly good news for those of us who are Rooster Riders. But what is we’re definitely not morning people, and prefer to get our sweat on after work? Caffeine stays in your system for four to six hours after drinking, says Skolnik. But it affects everyone differently. Having some before your 7 p.m. workout may be just fine, whereas your running BFF could do the exact same thing and find herself unable to sleep at 1a.m. Researchers think that’s because a person’s genetic makeup, body weight and age all play a role in how our enzymes break down caffeine. (via Daily Burn)

So there you have it: Coffee breath be damned! Our favorite caffeinated beverage just became our pre-workout drink of choice! Cheers, coffee lovers… CHEERS!