Coffee is often demonized when it comes to healthy eating, but given the long work hours of Modern Australians, let’s be honest, it is pretty much a staple of our everyday lives. We always say everything in moderation, and even with The Man Shake meal plan we tell you that you can lose the beer gut without losing all the beers, and we mean it.

Coffee is completely fine in moderation and in fact, it’s actually got quite a few health benefits to help you get through the day.

Coffee doesn’t just keep you awake — it may also make you smarter. The active ingredient in coffee is caffeine, which is a stimulant and the most commonly consumed psychoactive substance in the world.  Caffeine works in your brain by blocking the effects of an inhibitory neurotransmitter called adenosine.

By blocking the inhibitory effects of adenosine, caffeine actually increases neuronal firing in the brain and the release of other neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine. Many controlled studies have examined the effects of caffeine on the brain, demonstrating that caffeine can temporarily improve mood, reaction time, memory, vigilance, and general brain function.

There’s a good reason why you will find caffeine in most commercial fat-burning supplements. Caffeine, partly due to its stimulant effect on the central nervous system, both raises metabolism and increases the oxidation of fatty acids.

It can also improve athletic performance in several ways, including by mobilizing fatty acids from the fat tissues. In two separate tests, caffeine was found to increase exercise performance by 11–12%, on average.

Many people still seem to think that coffee is unhealthy.

This isn’t surprising since it is common for conventional wisdom to be at odds with what studies say. But coffee may actually help you live longer.

In a large prospective, observational study, drinking coffee was associated with a lower risk of death by all causes. This effect is particularly profound in people with type 2 diabetes. One study showed that coffee drinkers had a 30% lower risk of death during a 20-year period.

Even though moderate amounts of coffee are good for you, drinking way too much of it can still be harmful.

Also, keep in mind that some of the evidence is not strong. Many of the above studies were observational in nature. Such studies can only show an association, but cannot prove that coffee caused the benefits.  If you want to ensure the potential health benefits of coffee, avoid adding sugar.

And if drinking coffee tends to affect your sleep, don’t drink it after two in the afternoon.

But in the end, one thing holds true: coffee may just be the healthiest beverage on the planet. Just avoid the sugar.

The Coffee Breakdown

* All values are based on a small serve = 220ml.

FLAT WHITE

A shot of espresso with two parts steamed milk. 120 calories and 7 grams of fat. Swapping to skim milk will reduce the calories to 70 calories and almost no fat, although some fat may help to keep you full.

LATTE

A shot of espresso with two parts frothed milk. Similar nutritional content to a full-fat flat white with 120 calories and 7 grams of fat with just 70 calories and no fat for small-sized skim milk-based serve. A good source of calcium.

CAPPUCCINO

A shot of espresso with 1/3 milk and 1/3 froth, slightly lower in calories than a latte or flat white with 110 calories and 6 grams of fat with full cream milk but with a slightly lower calcium content than both a latte and flat white as a cappuccino contains slightly less milk.

MACCHIATO

A shot of coffee with a dash of milk — will contain just 13 or 18 calories depending on whether the milk added is skim or full cream. The risk with this form of coffee is that many will add sugar, which will add 15 calories per teaspoon.

PICCOLO LATTE

A mini version of a latte with just 45 calories with full cream milk or 25 if you go for skim. A great option for those who enjoy the taste of coffee and who do not need the extra milk and calories.

MOCHA

A latte with an extra shot of chocolate syrup added. It contains significantly more carbohydrates and calories than the average coffee with 160 calories and 6 grams of fat for a full cream version or 100 calories and virtually no fat for the skim milk version.

SOY LATTE

A latte made using soy milk instead of dairy milk. Many soy-based coffees are made using full-fat soy milk which can bump up the calories. A small will give you 3 grams of fat and 80 calories.

CHAI LATTE

While it may appear to be a ‘healthy choice’ the good old chai powder found at many coffee shops is packed with sugar. Small chai will give you 130 calories, 2 grams of fat but an extra 20 grams or 4 teaspoons of sugar.

LONG BLACK

Next to the macchiato, a long black is a favourite for coffee lovers with a shot of espresso slightly diluted with hot water. At 4 calories per serve, minus any milk and sugar, one or two of these will keep both your love of coffee and diet on track.

BULLETPROOF COFFEE

Popular with paleo fans, bullet coffee combines black coffee with butter and a tablespoon of oil and is generally used as part of a dietary regimen that significantly increases your fat intake at the expense of carbs. Offering 50 grams of fat and almost 2000kJ per serve, used as a breakfast option as part of a high-fat dietary regimen would lead to weight gain unless consumed as a part of this very specific diet.

ALMOND MILK COFFEE

Big along the Eastern seaboard, swapping both regular milk and soy for almond is becoming increasingly popular. While almond milk may appear exceptionally low in calories, but it is also very low in nutrients including protein and calcium; often contains added oil and sugars and is generally only a suggested option for individuals unable to tolerate dairy or soy, rather than a better option nutritionally.