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OVER THE YEARS, WE’VE heard alternatively that coffee is both good and bad for health. A few studies have even suggested that it might help you lose weight. While the current scientific thinking on the topic is anything but settled, there is some evidence that coffee might be helpful for dieters. So let’s talk about Myths about the Coffee Cleanse Diet
There’s been such enthusiastic support for some of the early findings of studies about coffee’s role in weight loss that there is now a diet plan called the coffee lover’s diet, which is laid out in a book of the same name by Dr. Bob Arnot, a physician and bestselling author of numerous diet and wellness books. That diet encourages drinking at least three cups of light-roast coffee per day while restricting calories with an eating plan that looks a bit like the Mediterranean diet to lose weight.
Other high-profile celebrity diet gurus have also recently pushed green coffee bean extract, a pill-based supplement, to help people lose weight. A 2017 study conducted in Iran found that obese women who took 400 milligrams per day of this supplement for eight weeks while following a low-calorie diet lost more weight than those on the same diet who did not take the extract. The extract comes from unroasted green coffee beans and contains caffeine and other components of coffee that may promote weight loss. The use of this supplement has been deemed a fad by some nutritionists.
However, there is something to the idea that coffee and its constituent components could help support weight loss. Stacey L. Pence, a registered dietitian at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, says certain components within coffee might boost the metabolism.
First among these is caffeine. This is the stimulant that many of us seek out in our morning cup of joe. That jolt might not just be for clearing the cobwebs after a late-night – it might also support weight loss.
“Coffee may improve weight loss due to caffeine’s effect on increasing metabolism,” says Dr. Eric Pham, a weight loss expert with St. Joseph Hospital in Orange County, California.
Caffeine does this by stimulating the nervous system and releasing the hormone epinephrine. Also known as adrenaline, epinephrine signals fat cells to break down and release fats into the blood. This makes the fat more available to be used as fuel. This increase in fat metabolism “occurs in all people regardless of race, sex or age,” says Dr. Brian Quebbemann, a bariatric surgery specialist based in Newport Beach, California, and author of “World’s Greatest Weight Loss: The Truth That Diet Gurus Don’t Want You to Know.” However, these effects appear to be lower in people with obesity.
Caffeine can also boost your resting metabolic rate, which means you may end up burning more calories around the clock. Quebbemann says drinking coffee regularly “decreases the amount of weight a person gains over time. The reason for this is likely due to not only decreased calorie intake but an increase in resting metabolism.”
But, he notes that “the details are important.” For example, “If you drink coffee 30 minutes to three hours before eating, you’ll generally consume fewer calories. The decrease in appetite diminishes significantly after four hours.” This trick works for both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee, “so, the appetite suppression effect is not completely dependent on caffeine.”
Both the metabolic boost and the suppression of hunger that coffee can provide are dose-dependent, and drinking up to about four cups per day may optimize those effects, Quebbemann says.
One 8-ounce cup of coffee contains about 100 milligrams of caffeine, so four cups put you at about 400 milligrams of caffeine, which Pence says has been determined to be a safe amount. “According to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee and a large meta-analysis, consuming up to four cups of coffee per day with up to 400 milligrams of caffeine daily is not associated with significant adverse effects or development of chronic diseases in healthy (non-pregnant) adults,”
In addition to speeding your metabolism and encouraging fat-burning, coffee might make you a little more able to stick with a diet or get moving more because it can combat fatigue. “Caffeinated coffee or other caffeinated beverages have been used for their effectiveness in improving mental alertness and reducing physical fatigue as well as improving sports or exercise performance, which may contribute to achieving weight loss,” Pence explains.
Coffee is also a mild diuretic that encourages the kidneys to release extra sodium and water from the body. In other words, it makes you pee more. This could result in a reduction in the amount of water in your body that may register as weight loss.
Beyond caffeine, compounds called mannooligosaccharides are also thought to support weight loss, Pence says. These indigestible compounds, dubbed MOS for short, have “prebiotic properties that may promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestines. MOS has been found to possibly be effective in lowering total body fat in animal and human studies – with increased consumption of MOS causing increased fat excretion in feces, producing a mild laxative effect. This would create a lack of absorption of fat calories, which could promote some weight loss.”
Other Health Benefits of Coffee
But there’s more to coffee than just a jolt of energy and potentially a little weight-loss support. “Some research shows drinking caffeinated coffee is possibly effective in reducing the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and may have cholesterol-lowering effects,” Pence says. “Population research shows long-term consumption of coffee is associated with a reduction in cardiovascular mortality.” So, drinking that daily cup of coffee could be helping keep your heart a little healthier.
These effects appear to be “dose-dependent,” Pence says, “meaning the more you drink, the greater the effects. For example, some research shows drinking one cup of coffee daily is associated with a reduction of developing Type 2 diabetes by 6% to 9%. Other studies have found an additional 5% to 10% reduction in risk of developing Type 2 diabetes with each additional cup of coffee consumed per day.”
The Downsides of Coffee
However, coffee can have some serious downsides too. Excessive consumption of caffeinated coffee can cause a variety of unwanted and potentially dangerous side effects, including:
- Heart arrhythmias.
- Gastric irritation.
- Diuresis (excessive urination and fluid loss). Too much caffeine can lead to dehydration, which can be dangerous.
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD.
- Urinary symptoms.
- Bone loss.
The same caffeine jolt that can make coffee help you feel better in small doses can overwhelm your system if you drink too much. So how much is too much? That depends on how sensitive you’re to caffeine’s effects, but again, Pham recommends keeping your consumption under six cups a day.
Should You Add Coffee for Weight Loss?
If you’re looking to lose some weight, should you up to your coffee intake? Many doctors wouldn’t advise using coffee as your “sole strategy for weight loss, especially with the lack of sufficient, reliable evidence to rate the coffee as a substance that helps reduce weight. However, it’s acceptable for the average, healthy adult to consume moderate amounts of coffee,” if you enjoy drinking it.
The best advice for those looking to lose weight is to put in the work. To lose weight, you must create a calorie deficit by moving more and eating less. A combination of both exercise and healthy, low-calorie diet is best, Pence says.
Having a cup or two of coffee before you go workout may be the best way coffee can help you lose weight, This is because the caffeine can act as “an ergogenic aid to improve physical performance with sports or exercise,” which can help you get through a tough workout. Check out this green coffee plus Fat burner if you are looking forward to losing weight with coffee.