Does coffee make you lose weight?
According to Mayo Clinic, sipping a fat-free ice mochaccino might not cause a massive change on the scale, but caffeine can boost weight loss slightly when used correctly and as part of a healthy diet and exercise program.
How Caffeine Affects Your Metabolism
Caffeine affects the body in two different ways: it helps suppress appetite and it increases your metabolism, causing you to burn more calories.
According to a study conducted by Griffith University, consumption of coffee does appear to suppress appetite, increase a feeling of fullness, and decrease cravings. The experts behind the study also point out that coffee seems to slow down “gastric emptying.” This is the speed at which food is processed and leaves your stomach to travel down into your gut. When this occurs quickly, you experience hunger and cravings again. Coffee seems to slow down the process, and as a result you feel fuller for a longer period of time.
Coffee can also help increase energy levels and “fuel you up” so you can complete a workout, helping you lose weight indirectly. A study published in the Sports Medicine journal looked at the effect of caffeine on exercise and found that people who consume caffeine shortly before a workout can “train at a greater power output and/or to train longer.” Of course, keep in mind that the effects are even more significant if you’re not a regular coffee drinker. If your body is used to caffeine already, you might not experience the same results.
However, it’s important to note that these effects are small. For example, caffeine causes something called thermogenesis, which basically means increasing the energy expenditure during certain basic activities, like digesting food. While this sounds impressive, it only translates to a few additional calories burned per day.
Does Coffee Make You Lose Weight? What the Experts Say
So what do experts say to the question, does coffee make you lose weight? According to a study published in the International Journal of Obesity, the caffeine in tea and coffee can increase your energy expenditure by up to 5 percent.
Caffeine also increases fat oxidation, according to the same study. This is good because it means your body becomes more effective at burning fat as a source of energy, leading to fat loss rather than water or muscle loss – a common problem when using only diet as a way to shed pounds.
Other studies confirm this, showing that those who consume caffeine-rich drinks on a regular basis burn more calories even when at rest. They are also more capable of maintaining that weight loss over time.
Finally, studies also confirm the power of caffeine when it comes to exercise endurance. For example, a study published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition shows that people who consume caffeine before a workout use less muscle glycogen as a source of energy. This in turn delays fatigue and allows you to work out for longer periods of time.
A large number of over-the-counter weight-loss and fat burning pills contain caffeine. The amount of caffeine in those pills is very similar to what you would get from a single cup of coffee. You can also buy caffeine pills in their pure form. These are sold as supplements and available without a prescription.
For example, a 16-ounce cup of coffee can contain up to 350 mg of caffeine, depending on the brand and how strong the coffee is. In comparison, weight loss pills like Hydroxycut contain 300 mg per dose.
With that in mind, drinking a cup of coffee could be just as effective as taking fat burning pills and might even be less risky. Why is that?
For starters, there’s less of a chance of overdoing coffee, simply because you won’t be able to drink as many cups without suffering heartburn, stomach upset or restlessness. On the other hand, it’s very easy to take too many pills at once and only realize later on what the effects are.
Mayo Clinic estimates 400 mg of caffeine per day to be a safe amount for most adults. Unless you are particularly sensitive to caffeine, you can try having two cups of coffee a day and see if that helps you shed some pounds. Just don’t overdo it and don’t forget healthy eating and exercise also play a major role in weight loss.
People with heart conditions should talk to a doctor before increasing their caffeine intake, however. According to a study published in the Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care journal, coffee can increase high blood pressure and have a negative effect on cholesterol levels in some people – especially those who are not habitual consumers of caffeine.
In addition, studies have shown that high caffeine consumption can accelerate calcium loss. In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, women over 65 years of age who consume 300 mg or more of caffeine on a daily basis had accelerated bone loss, especially on the spine area.
If you have (or suspect) an underlying medical condition, talk to your doctor before deciding to increase your coffee consumption. While an extra cup a day might not seem like much, it could have unexpected effects if you’re not in optimal health, so a quick checkup might be in order before you make any drastic changes.
One very last thing to keep in mind: all the potential weight loss benefits of coffee will disappear if you choose to drink “gourmet coffee drinks” that contain syrups, full-fat milk, sugar, or other extras. For example, a Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino® Blended Beverage from Starbucks contains 450 calories (and 15 grams of fat), which is almost a third of a day’s worth of calories for a healthy, non-overweight adult woman.
To make the most of the benefits of caffeine, stick to black coffee and zero-calorie sweeteners. If you need to add a touch of “something else,” ask for soymilk or non-fat milk. All the studies conducted looked at brewed coffee, since instant coffee has a very different composition and might not provide similar benefits to users.
- International Journal of Obesity: Thermogenic ingredients and body weight regulation
- Mayo Clinic: Does caffeine help with weight loss?
- International Journal of Sports Nutrition: Caffeine and Performance
- Mayo Clinic: Caffeine: How much is too much?
- Coffee and appetite: an interview with Matt Schubert and Associate Professor Ben Desbrow, Griffith University