At Iconic Health Clubs we love when we hear something we enjoy is good for us as it takes away all guilt (we don’t do guilt!). It’s the little things in life that make us happy and nothing perks us up better than a decent cup of coffee.

If you regularly partake you know how it can inject a bit of life into you almost instantly, but did you know coffee has antioxidants and can help you workout for longer at a more intense level.

The stimulant caffeine is quickly absorbed within 15 to 30 minutes and will give peak productivity 45 minutes after drinking when it has been fully immersed into the bloodstream. This dovetails nicely with that exhaustion we can feel halfway through a workout or spin class when we want to crawl towards that door.

Caffeine makes us more alert because it alters the way receptors in the brain detect the body chemical adenosine, which usually makes us sleepy. Lots of energy drinks contain caffeine but many are highly processed. Coffee is natural, has zero calories if you drink it black, and has none of the added sugar that many of these drinks contain.

Research shows it could also help with your mood with a US study from the Harvard School of Public Health finding the risk of depression was 15 percent lower among women who drank a minimum two cups of coffee daily compared to those who drank little or none.

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We asked the nutrition therapist and writer Ian Marber if he thought the Iconic Health Club members should be drinking coffee and he said there is no problem as it offers some health benefits and will help you train for longer if you have a quick one before hitting the gym, though like everything it is best in moderation.

“Coffee before training offers caffeine which may help the intensity and duration of the work out. Caffeine is more effective when we don’t have too much or have it too often”, he said.

And music to our ears was the fact that it’s basically healthy as long as you don’t overdo it.

“Coffee is a source of chlorogenic and caffeic acids, both plant chemicals with noted antioxidant abilities, from the same family as those found in red wine and cocoa”, he said.

“It’s good stuff, often maligned!” he added.

Easy now, don’t go crazy

So how many coffees should we be drinking? The Mayo clinic in the US recommends keeping caffeine intake to 400 mg a day. How much is that exactly? Well one shot of coffee is 92 mg of caffeine so if we are making it at home in a plunger be aware of that and use a coffee spoon to measure.

Looking at the Costa Brand, which was recently installed in the Dartry Health Club, if I order a primo Americano that is 185 mg of caffeine, if I opt for a large one that will be 277 mg and a Massimo will be 370 mg.

So if you are partial to ordering giant coffees you might use up all your allowance in one go. Also one study found that consuming caffeine six hours before you go to bed could reduce your sleep, so keep it to the earlier part of the day and then switch to decaf.

The take-home message is enjoy your couple of cups a day and the next morning you find yourself toying with the idea of heading to the gym, but feeling a little half hearted, get yourself a coffee first and see if that gets you going.

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Costa Coffee          Primo           Medio            Massimo

Americano              185 mg          277 mg             370 mg

Caffe Latte              92 mg            185 mg             277 mg

Ian Marber has been a nutritional therapist for 20 years and his next book is out in April – “ManFood – the no-nonsense guide to improving your health and energy in your 40’s and beyond”.

Mary McCarthy is a freelance journalist and a member of the Dartry Health Club. @MaryKnowsBees