By definition adding any proxy between a client and server is adding “work”. Therefor generally adding latency.
One benefit of TLS termination at the edge is that the TLS handshake will be faster if the round trip time to a closer physical location is faster than a far away origin server. This was more important in the early years of CloudFlare when HTTP/1.1 was the majority traffic. With HTTP/2 this is not nearly as much of a benefit as fewer TLS handshakes will be performed (perhaps as low as only 1 for an optimized site). Also this will be more apparent when testing from locations far away from your origin and may not improve things when testing locally close to your origin server.
The latency for adding a proxy can also be offset using content caching in cloudflare (1st visit still slower, subsequent visits faster). This was the original benefit of CloudFlare in its earliest years: edge caching. For this to work your content must be cacheable with the correct cache control headers set from your server.
CloudFlare also developed a bunch of creative ways to reduce latency between the cloudflare edge and your origin server.
CloudFlare created “RailGun” for optimizing the connection between web hosting companies and cloudflare edge. This works for webhosts that are cloudflare partners.
CloudFlare also created another paid option with “Argo” which can gather resources from your origin with the optimal cloudflare network route and then tiering down to other locations. I havent used this one, but hear it is good too.
And then recently CloudFlare also released CloudFlare “Pages” for hosting static websites on CloudFlare. This is even faster as your origin is now inside CloudFlare! My website is hosted on CloudFlare Pages and is rather fast. There are now a lot of CMS packages that can generate to static output.
Last but not least, CloudFlare is not a magic solution to eliminate all other web optimization work! Just as you can’t buy a pill for an overnight beach body, you can’t buy a quick fix for a poorly optimized website.
You must still follow all the basic best practices, such as those recommended by google lighthouse. Reducing or eliminating render blocking requests, removing unused JS/CSS, serving sensibly sized images in modern efficient formats, etc. Combine good web optimization, with edge caching, and you can acheive excellent results!
Feel free to run my site through webpagetest if you want to analyze the webperf stuff.