Will a trip to Starbucks and a cup of caffeinated coffee tip the scales in your favor? Caffeine is a stimulant, so you might wonder whether caffeine is a metabolism booster and whether it could help with weight loss. Some diet pills contain caffeine and other caffeine-like compounds, which further suggest it’s a weight loss booster. Can caffeine help you lose weight?
Benefits of Caffeine: Can Caffeine Help You Lose Weight?
There is evidence that caffeine slightly increases metabolic rate but the results are modest. Getting 100 milligrams of caffeine a day burns an additional 75 to 100 calories a day. Sounds like it could add up to some serious weight loss over time, right? Here’s the kicker. A study that followed 58,000 health professionals who bumped up their caffeine consumption over a twelve year period found they actually gained weight. That’s not what most coffee drinkers want to hear.
Why does caffeine, a known stimulant, have so little effect on weight loss – or worse yet cause weight gain? There are several possibilities. When you take in too much caffeine, it boosts the release of cortisol, a hormone that’s linked with belly fat. Too much caffeine also contributes to insomnia – and studies show that people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to gain weight over time. So sipping caffeinated coffee may be a short-term metabolism booster, but it could contribute to weight gain in other ways over a longer period of time.
Caffeine to Lose Weight: It May Have Small Benefits for Some Groups of People
For people who exercise, caffeine may have modest calorie-burning benefits short-term. One study found that a group of people who drank caffeinated tea before doing a high-intensity workout were able to train harder. Harder training means more calories and fat burned – and the potential for greater weight loss. Whether caffeine actually helps athletes lose weight is questionable since being able to train harder doesn’t necessarily translate into pounds lost.
Another way caffeine could theoretically help with weight loss is by suppressing appetite. There is some evidence that caffeine helps to curb the desire to eat for short periods of time – but, again, there’s still no proof that it actually causes weight loss.
Can Caffeine Help You Lose Weight: The Bottom Line?
Don’t count on caffeine to be a magic bullet for melting away fat. Sipping a caffeinated beverage may slightly boost the number of calories you burn each day, but don’t let it be a substitute for a healthy diet and a regular exercise plan. Enjoy a cup of coffee for its other health benefits instead. It appears to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, gall bladder disease, and Parkinson’s disease, but to lose weight, make the right food choices.
New York Times Health. “Sorting Out Caffeine’s Contradictions”
Web Md. “Say It’s So, Joe: The Potential Health Benefits – and Drawbacks of Coffee.”
Fitness Prescription. March 2010. page 20.