Supplements: Green Coffee Bean Extract

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Green coffee beans are the seeds of the Coffee fruit.  They simply normal coffee beans that haven’t been roasted.  When we roast coffee beans to produce drinking coffee, the process reduces the chemical chlorogenic acid level in the coffee beans. Chlorogenic acid is though to be one of the antioxidants in coffee and it is believed to have health benefits.   Obviously, green coffee beans have a higher level of chlorogenic acid when compared to roasted coffee beans and green coffee does not make a good cup of coffee.  Green coffee is another one of the miracle supplements that Dr. Oz has publicized on TV as causing weigh loss without the need to exercise.  

Green Coffee

Figure 1:  Green Coffee

Coffee beans, green or roasted, contain two substances believed to help with weight loss.  The beans contain both caffeine and chlorogenic acid.

How it works: Caffeine is thought to decrease appetite and increase fat burning.  Chlorogenic acid reportedly slows the breakdown of carbohydrates in the gut.  I will discuss caffeine elsewhere.  Here I want to look at green coffee bean extract (GCE).  

Effectiveness: Many studies have shown that GCE may promote weight loss.  The first study that is often quoted is by Vinson and it was a double blind placebo trial that looks at using GCE in overweight patients.  At first glance, it would appear that GCE was effective at preventing obesity and possibly at losing weight.  Since being published, the article has been retracted.  It should not longer be used as evidence[1].   Another study look at chorogenic acid supplemented coffee and its effect on weight loss and glucose levels.  The researchers found that the group lost 5.4 kgs in the test group versus 1.7 Kgs in the control group.   They concluded that chlorogenic acid enriched coffee appears to have a significant reduce the absorption and utilization of glucose from the diet[2].  A meta-analysis review concluded that GCE might assist in weight loss but more research is needed[3].  

Another interesting study show that GCE increased lipid release and fat loss in patients chlorogenic acids[4].  That study was paid for by a supplement company that produces a GCE supplement  It is interesting and could use further research.  

A review of website that taught benefit of GCE include claims that it might help with blood pressure, obesity, dementia, diabetes type 2, and Alzheimer’s.  A review by Web MD, concluded that although there might be evidence to suggest that it might be helpful for weight loss and blood pressure, there is insufficient evidence to support such claims.  Clearly, more research is needed[5].

If Web MD is not enough, a review by Mullin, looked at all the research as a whole and concluded that although GCE might have a modest on increasing or maintain weight loss but that the risk is not worth the benefit.  He recommended that we instead drink a lighter roast coffee if we want more chlorogenic acid in our diet[6]   

Side effects:  The following list is in alphabetical order.  It is a pressure scary list.  * denotes a more common side effect.  

  1. Agitation
  2. Anxiety
  3. Calcium deficiencies
  4. Depression
  5. Diarrhea *
  6. Fatique
  7. Flushing
  8. Glaucoma
  9. Headache
  10. Insomnia
  11. Increased blood pressure *
  12. Increased cholesterol
  13. Increased respiratory rate
  14. Increased heart rate *
  15. Irregular heartbeats
  16. Irritability
  17. Magnesium depletion
  18. Muscle tension
  19. Nausea
  20. Nervousness
  21. Restlessness
  22. Ringing in the ears (tinnitis)
  23. Trouble concentrating
  24. Upset Stomach
  25. Vomiting
  26. Worsened bleeding disorders

Truth: Green coffee bean extract may increase weight loss in the short term, but it is not worth the risk.  We do not know the long term side effects.  As with most supplements, you have to remember that many of the studies were industry sponsored and they have vested interest in ensuring that the study sells more of their product.  

Footnotes
[1]Vinson, Burnham, and Nagendran, “Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Linear Dose, Crossover Study to Evaluate the Efficacy and Safety of a Green Coffee Bean Extract in Overweight Subjects.”
[2]Thom, “The Effect of Chlorogenic Acid Enriched Coffee on Glucose Absorption in Healthy Volunteers and Its Effect on Body Mass When Used Long-Term in Overweight and Obese People.”
[3]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.”
[4]Flanagan et al., “Lipolytic Activity of Svetol®, a Decaffeinated Green Coffee Bean Extract.”
[5]“Web MD: Green Coffee.”
[6]Mullin, “Supplements for Weight Loss: Hype or Help for Obesity? Part II. The inside Scoop on Green Coffee Bean Extract.”

References:

Flanagan, J, A Bily, Y Rolland, and M Roller. “Lipolytic Activity of Svetol®, a Decaffeinated Green Coffee Bean Extract.” Phytotherapy Research : PTR 28, no. 6 (June 1, 2014): 946–48 [PubMed]
Mullin, GE. “Supplements for Weight Loss: Hype or Help for Obesity? Part II. The inside Scoop on Green Coffee Bean Extract.” Nutrition in Clinical Practice : Official Publication of the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition 30, no. 2 (April 1, 2015): 311–12 [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]
Thom, E. “The Effect of Chlorogenic Acid Enriched Coffee on Glucose Absorption in Healthy Volunteers and Its Effect on Body Mass When Used Long-Term in Overweight and Obese People.” The Journal of International Medical Research 35, no. 6 (November 1, 2007): 900–908 [PubMed]
Vinson, JA, BR Burnham, and MV Nagendran. “Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Linear Dose, Crossover Study to Evaluate the Efficacy and Safety of a Green Coffee Bean Extract in Overweight Subjects.” Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity : Targets and Therapy 5 (January 1, 2012): 21–27 [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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