Research Proven Weight Loss: Coffee

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Coffee is a nectar of the gods.  It is miraculous what it does to me each morning.  It truly wakes me from my zombielike state each morning.  It starts every day for many around the world.   I can speak for my administrative assistant and she thanks our maker every day that I have 1-4 cups every morning.  It give you energy and wakefulness, but does coffee help with weight loss and maintenance?  

Cup of Coffee

Figure 1:  Cup of Coffee

The main active ingredient in coffee is caffeine and there is very little evidence that caffeine assists with weight loss.  Sure it makes you more alert and wakeful.  I do not feel I need to provide research on this topic.  It is well known that coffee is a common way to self medicate yourself to avoid sleep and promote alertness.  It has been used for decade for this purpose.  It would make sense that caffeine would help with weight loss.

Sine the research is mixed, does that mean that coffee doe into assist with weight loss?  It is not that simple.  There is some research to show that coffee does decrease appetite, 

Research:

  1. Caffeine:  One European study of caffeine consumption in weight loss and maintenance showed a correlation between successful maintenance and a higher caffeine consumption[1].  
    • Appetite suppression:  Caffeine may reduce your desire to eat for a brief time, but there’s not enough evidence from research to suggest that long-term consumption aids weight loss, but one study does show that coffee and not caffeine through peptide YY causes a reduction in appetite[2].  
    • Calorie and fat burning. Caffeine may stimulate thermogenesis (aka fat burning)[3].  This effect is probably small and isn’t enough to produce significant weight loss. One study showed a significant increase in fat burning in women who consume caffeine[4].
    • Exercise Performance:  Caffeine has shown improved exercise performance in multiple studies[5],.  
  2. Coffee:  I personally find that my own appetite is suppressed and I eat less when I have coffee, so I was surprised to find conflicting research with mixed results. I honestly believe that more research is needed to compare naive individuals to those that have some tolerance to caffeine. This is likely more complicated and depends on the individual. 
    • Weight Loss:  I found several studies that show a modest and short term increase effect on weight loss.  One such study show a short term increase in weight loss with green coffee extract[6].  
    • Appetite suppression: One study by Gavrieli showed that subjects had a lower intake of calories in the group that had coffee[7].
Magic Coffee Beans

Figure 2:  Magic Coffee Beans

My personal opinion is that this is more complicated and needs further research.  There is a genetic link to how you regulate the caffeine receptors and this effects how much tolerance and how quickly you develop it.  Coffee is likely less effective in some subjects because of tolerance and genetic differences.  It is hard to find solid evidence on coffee for fat loss, then it may be best to cycle it to prevent a buildup of tolerance. I would like to see more studies that focus on the naive versus the caffeine tolerant.   

Of course, there are other reasons to drink coffee, including the fact that coffee is on of the best sources for antioxidants in the western diet.  One think is clear, coffee helps me have more energy and feel full longer.  If I miss a cup of coffee in the morning, I usually find myself reaching for lunch early.  Even with out research to support it, I will continue my cup of Joe.    

 

Footnotes
[1]Icken et al., “Caffeine Intake Is Related to Successful Weight Loss Maintenance.”
[2]Greenberg and Geliebter, “Coffee, Hunger, and Peptide YY.”
[3]Dulloo et al., “Normal Caffeine Consumption: Influence on Thermogenesis and Daily Energy Expenditure in Lean and Postobese Human Volunteers.”
[4]Bracco et al., “Effects of Caffeine on Energy Metabolism, Heart Rate, and Methylxanthine Metabolism in Lean and Obese Women.”
[5]Doherty and Smith, “Effects of Caffeine Ingestion on Rating of Perceived Exertion during and after Exercise: A Meta-Analysis.”
[6]Onakpoya, Terry, and Ernst, “The Use of Green Coffee Extract as a Weight Loss Supplement: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomised Clinical Trials.”
[7]Gavrieli et al., “Effect of Different Amounts of Coffee on Dietary Intake and Appetite of Normal-Weight and Overweight/Obese Individuals.”

References:

Bracco, D, JM Ferrarra, MJ Arnaud, E Jéquier, and Y Schutz. “Effects of Caffeine on Energy Metabolism, Heart Rate, and Methylxanthine Metabolism in Lean and Obese Women.” The American Journal of Physiology 269, no. 4 Pt 1 (October 1, 1995): E671-8 [PubMed]
Doherty, M, and PM Smith. “Effects of Caffeine Ingestion on Rating of Perceived Exertion during and after Exercise: A Meta-Analysis.” Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports 15, no. 2 (April 1, 2005): 69–78 [PubMed]
Dulloo, AG, CA Geissler, T Horton, A Collins, and DS Miller. “Normal Caffeine Consumption: Influence on Thermogenesis and Daily Energy Expenditure in Lean and Postobese Human Volunteers.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 49, no. 1 (January 1, 1989): 44–50 [PubMed]
Gavrieli, A, E Karfopoulou, E Kardatou, E Spyreli, E Fragopoulou, CS Mantzoros, and M Yannakoulia. “Effect of Different Amounts of Coffee on Dietary Intake and Appetite of Normal-Weight and Overweight/Obese Individuals.” Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.) 21, no. 6 (June 1, 2013): 1127–32 [PubMed]
Greenberg, JA, and A Geliebter. “Coffee, Hunger, and Peptide YY.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition 31, no. 3 (June 1, 2012): 160–66 [PubMed]
Icken, D, S Feller, S Engeli, A Mayr, A Müller, A Hilbert, and Zwaan de. “Caffeine Intake Is Related to Successful Weight Loss Maintenance.” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 70, no. 4 (April 1, 2016): 532–34 [PubMed]
Onakpoya, I, R Terry, and E Ernst. “The Use of Green Coffee Extract as a Weight Loss Supplement: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomised Clinical Trials.” Gastroenterology Research and Practice 2011 (January 1, 2011) [PubMed]
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About the Author

ChuckH

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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