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Does Coffee Help You Lose Weight?

cup of coffeeAs a proponent of weight loss through smart nutrition and exercise, I tend to look the other way when it comes to weight loss supplements. I know they can be effective, but they tend to be used as a crutch for a poor diet.

Coffee is different though. It’s a natural caffeinated drink derived from the coffee bean. It’s been shown to have many health benefits, but what about weight loss? Does coffee help you lose weight?

What are the Effective Fat Loss Ingredients in Coffee?

  • Caffeine – Caffeine is a stimulant found in coffee that acts on the central nervous system (CNS). It causes a release of the neurotransmitters dopamine and epinephrine (adrenaline). The latter causes an increase in the mobilization of fatty acids. Caffeine intake is associated with weight loss through thermogenesis and fat oxidation [1].
  • Chlorogenic Acid – Chlorogenic acid is a polyphenol antioxidant found in coffee. This antioxidant reduces blood glucose and insulin levels after after a meal [2] [3]. By slowing the release of glucose and keeping insulin levels low, you create a more favorable metabolic environment for releasing fatty acids.
  • Quinides – Quinides are just one of potentially dozens of beneficial chemical compounds in coffee. Quinides have a positive impact on blood glucose disposal, and they make your cells more responsive to the effects of insulin – effectively improving your insulin sensitivity [4].

How Does Coffee Help You Lose Weight?

  • Fat Oxidation – Fatty acids are sent to your mitochondria to be oxidized and converted to ATP so they can be used for energy. Coffee causes an increase in fat oxidation [5].
  • Thermogenesis – Thermogenesis is the production of heat in the body. The creation of heat uses calories and causes an increase in energy expenditure. The caffeine in coffee causes a thermogenic response that leads to additional calories burned over time [6].
  • Appetite Suppression – Controlling hunger is one of the major goals when undergoing a weight loss program. Coffee causes a reduction in hunger and an increase in satiety after a meal [7] [8]. This appetite suppression leads to a decrease in calories consumed over the course of the day, and lowers the chances of binge eating.

Health Concerns and Benefits of Drinking Coffee

  • Cardiovascular Risk – Since coffee has stimulatory effects, it would be prudent to look into the potential negative side effects to your cardiovascular health. The good news is that coffee has actually been shown to provide cardiovascular benefits. Among other benefits, it inhibits inflammation, which reduces the risk of cardiovascular and other inflammatory diseases [9] [10] [11].
  • Type II Diabetes – Type II diabetes is caused by long-term high blood glucose and insulin levels. This usually stems from a lack of exercise and a diet full of processed foods. There is an inverse relationship between coffee consumption and type II diabetes. Coffee drinkers have a significantly lower risk for type II diabetes [12].
  • Anxiety – One of the few health concerns of drinking coffee comes from individuals that have general anxiety disorder (GAD). People with GAD are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine [13]. Coffee ingestion can also lead to a greater state of anxiety when presented with a stressful situation [14]. If you are prone to anxiety, or if you have knowledge that you’ll be confronted with a high stress situation, it might be best to abstain from coffee use.

Don’t Take a Good Thing and Make it Bad

Does coffee help you lose weight? I think this heavily cited article shows that it does. However, you can easily turn a good thing into something bad if you plan to load up your coffee with sugar or other artificial sweeteners.

Avoid the artificial sweeteners, and if you must add something to your coffee, opt for just a small amount of sugar or honey. Coffee (or even tea) can have a positive influence on your weight loss and your health if used responsibly.

  • Di Henderson

    Hi, Tony thanks for all your input, I have found it very wholesome (a refreshing change) and beneficial. How many cups of (normal strength) coffee (without milk or sugar) a day would be responsible?

    • Coach Calorie

      I think 1 or 2 cups would be just fine. If you start going higher I might be concerned with developing a physical/mental dependency.

  • Chelsey

    Are all of these benefits from the caffeine or can some of these be gained through drinking decaf, as well?

    • Coach Calorie

      There are plenty of health benefits from the rest of the coffee too. You might not get all of the weight loss benefits, but you would get the majority of health benefits.

  • Lisa Long Franssen

    I use coconut sugar in my coffee, is this better than regular sugar in your opinion?

  • Dani

    Hi coach calorie! Thanks for posting. I’ve also read that drinking black tea after a high fat tea prevents as much fat storage: “In a small study, Takanami and colleagues evaluated the effects of two high-fat meals in 10 healthy volunteers aged 21 to 38. The meals contained equal amounts of fat (79%) but during one meal participants drank black tea, while during the other they drank water.

    Results showed that forearm blood flow was strongest following the meal that included the tea, suggesting that the antioxidants in tea helped to keep blood vessels functioning properly, Takanami told Reuters Health.”

  • Dawn

    Hi Tony, I recently signed up for your newsletter and am really enjoying all your articles. Thank you.

  • Monika

    Hi :) What about coffee with milk? Is it still ok? I don’t need sugar but love coffee with milk.

  • Coach Calorie

    If you tolerate dairy, I see no problem. Just understand the health benefits come from the coffee bean.

  • Coach Calorie

    Hi Dani, I didn’t read anywhere in that study that drinking black tea prevented fat storage. Am I missing something?

  • Coach Calorie

    The less processed the better. I personally have never used coconut sugar, however.

  • Luisa

    was just wondering about the effects of coffee on nutrient absorption?

  • Coach Calorie

    It’s not something I’ve looked into Luisa, so I can’t give you an educated answer. Sorry.

    • Luisa

      Hi. Have started reading out if interest. I haven’t gone to the source info but this article seems quite balanced..

    • Luisa

      By the way, many thanks for your very sensible, balanced advice and focus on healthiness. It is very refreshing not too see diet as “what can I get away with eating for x no. of calories per day?”!

  • Mariam

    how about using 3 or 4 table spoons of flavored creamers in coffee e.g Caramel Machiato Creamer. Does that make coffee bad or still helpful

    • Coach Calorie

      I suppose it depends on the ingredients in the creamer. If it has a bunch of processed stuff, I’d avoid.

  • CCS

    Hi Tony, find fasted cardio after a black coffee really got me to the next level for my training. I try only have one coffee first thing, thanks for this helpful article