Caffeine is known to enhance exercise performance, but could it also help you burn belly fat?

A new study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition has found that drinking a strong cup of coffee half an hour before aerobic exercise increases the rate of fat burning.

Scientists at the Department of Physiology of the University of Granada also discovered that if the exercise is performed in the afternoon, the effects of the caffeine are more marked than in the morning.

Participants in the research completed an exercise test four times at seven-day intervals. Subjects ingested 3 mg/kg of caffeine or a placebo at 8am and 5pm (each subject completed the tests in all four conditions in a random order). The conditions prior to each exercise test (hours elapsed since last meal, physical exercise, or consumption of stimulant substances) were strictly standardized, and fat oxidation during exercise was calculated accordingly.

Increased fat burning during exercise was confirmed, which the values being higher in the afternoon than in the morning. The results also showed that caffeine increased fat oxidation during morning exercise in a similar way to that observed without caffeine intake in the afternoon.

In summary, the study authors said the findings suggest that the combination of coffee and aerobic exercise performed at moderate intensity in the afternoon provides the optimal scenario for people seeking to increase fat-burning during physical exercise.

According to BBC Science Focus: "It’s thought that caffeine raises your core body temperature, thereby increasing the number of calories you burn. It can also produce adrenaline and stimulate a process called lipolysis. This is the breakdown of adipose tissue (the fat we can pinch between our fingers) into fatty acids, which the the body can use as a source of energy."

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