IT can be tough dredge up the motivation and energy to work out.
You might have tried it all – pre-workout smoothies, protein powder concoctions and supplements.
But according to diet guru Dr Michael Mosley, the key to getting your body up and running before hitting the gym is something you probably already have on a daily basis.
You guessed it: it’s coffee.
We’re used to sipping on the powerful drink in order to shake off sleep first thing in the morning.
As it turns out, your morning brew also has other uses that you might not have known about.
“I’m about to do something that should increase my alertness, improve my mood and even boost my morning workout,” Dr Mosley told listeners in a episode of his BBC podcast Just One Thing, before taking a slurp of freshly brewed coffee.
Not only will a cup of Joe get your brain working, it will also get your body working to, the diet guru said.
“Surprisingly, drinking coffee not only perks us up mentally but it’s been shown to boost our performance in all sorts of other ways.”
This includes “increasing the amount of fat you burn while doing exercise and improving endurance, so you can keep going for longer”.
Most read in Diet & Fitness
You’re not the only one looking back in dismay at all the workouts you felt too limp to get through.
But, Dr Mosley said, there’s a method to perking up you gym visit with coffee.
Swigging just before your workout just won’t do, the TV doctor, author and co-founder of the Fast 800 diet explained.
“You need to have it about an hour before you exercise.”
Dr Mosley spoke to Dr James Betts – a professor of metabolic physiology at the University of Bath – about the benefits of coffee before working out, who had this to say on the topic.
“We know that being physically active is just about one of the most important things you can do for your health. So, if having a coffee helps someone get the motivation to work out or go for a walk, I think we should focus on things that help with that.”
Dr Mosley explained what exactly makes our favourite brew so beneficial: “Coffee – as most people know – contains caffeine, which is a powerful stimulant produced by plants to help ward off insects. Coffee is also rich in polyphenols, which are anti-oxidants that have a powerful anti-inflammatory effect.”
They’re also thought to promote better heart health, according to the diet guru.
He cited a massive UK study following half-a-million people, which found that having up to three cups of coffee a day was linked to better brain and heart health.
People who consumed that amount had a lower risk of stroke, heart disease and dementia, Dr Mosley went on, as well as having healthier sized and better functioning hearts, as opposed to non-coffee drinkers.
“Coffee aficionados will also be delighted to heat that their favourite brew may even help burn calories,” the diet guru went on.
“A recent university study showed drinking coffee stimulated brown fat and one of the main functions of brown fat is to generate body heat by burning calories.
“Other recent research showed that women who drank up to two cups of coffee per day had less total body fat and adnominal fat than those who didn’t drink any,” he said.
You don’t have to shell out on a ‘fancy espresso’, Dr Mosley added – you can actually get the same benefits from instant coffee.
But he warned that coffee has a number of negative impacts on people including raising blood pressure and disrupting sleep.
“For this reason, it’s sensible to go easy on how much coffee you drink. Three to four cups of coffee a day might be the sweet spot for the most beneficial effects on your health.”
Swigging up up to five or six cups a day might leave you in some discomfort, as it can become a diuretic and leave you dehydrated.