Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Does coffee assist with weight loss?

One of the best aromas in the whole wide world is fresh ground black coffee.  I love to wake up in the morning to the delicious smell of freshly brewed coffee.  Yes, this is a great way to start the day or is it?  If you browse the recent literature, you'll find over 19,000 studies examining the various benefits and downsides of ingesting caffeine. If you Google it there is a massive amount of information on both the positives and negatives health impacts of drinking one of Australia and the world, for that matters, favourite drink. Protective health benefits include reducing the risks of diabetes, stroke, some forms of cancer, mental illness, and overall mortality. If you’re interested in finding our more about the pros and cons in regards to your health then have a look at the Coffineinformer web page

I enjoy a variety of coffee types including peculated and instant. I enjoy it so much I have several cups a day. The thing is I've been wondering whether or not this habit is having a negative impact on my weight loss and fitness goals for the year.  (If you haven’t been following me then take a look at my blog Going of Gold on Goal  Setting and other posts.) In an endeavor to find I have again turned to some Women's Health magazines and my good friend Google.  

A closer examination of the information revealed the following:

Weight Loss


  1. Decreases Appetite: Research currently being conducted at the Griffith University’s Centre for Health Practice Innovation is finding that study participants are reporting decreased appetite when drinking regular coffee as opposed to decaf or caffeine tablets as part of an ongoing study. Drinking coffee during the afternoon or after dinner can help to reduce cravings for snacks or sweets, by filling the stomach and suppressing the appetite, without the addition of calories.
  2. Boosts Metabolism: Coffee might stimulate your metabolism by increasing your rate of thermogenesis (how your body burns calories to create heat and energy). However, this is only a slight increase and studies have not shown it to have a very large effect on weight loss. Also ingesting caffeine jumpstarts the process of lipolysis, which is when your body releases free fatty acids into the bloodstream. This occurs when your body is breaking down your fat stores to convert it into energy. In other words, caffeine boosts your metabolism sightly and helps you burn fat.
  3. Low in Calories: A cup of black coffee contains 5.4 calories and it is also known as a calorie free drink. 
  4. Coffee is a diuretic:  Coffee is often claimed to be a diuretic.  Some people are heavy due to  excess water content in their body. Drinking black coffee reduces high water content as it eliminates the unwanted waste water and fluid accumulation in the body through urination. A significant number diet pills are high in caffeine.


  1. Increase in stress hormones: A new book by Eugene Wells’s, titled The Decaf Diet, based on recent research suggests that drinking coffee, tea or caffeinated diet beverages can cause you to pile on the pounds. According to Wells, when we drink coffee, our bodies produce the hormone cortisol — the same chemical that we produce when we’re stressed or scared. This increases blood sugar levels, and it’s this that is turned into fat. He cites a U.S. study that suggests if cortisol is raised for a prolonged period, the body also relocates fat deposits from other parts straight to the abdomen. You end up with what Wells calls ‘coffee belly’.

The recommended daily limit of caffeine is 400mg and there is up to 94mg of caffeine in one cup of coffee. Therefore, the moderate coffee connoisseur will consume 3-4 cups/day providing 300-400 mg/day of caffeine)

The amount of caffeine in a particular coffee drink depends on the brew and beverage size:
·         Restaurant espresso (1 oz.) 40-75 mg
·         Instant coffee (8 oz.) 27-173 mg
·         Typical brewed coffee (8 oz.) 95-200 mg
·         McDonald's brewed coffee (16 oz.) 100 mg
·         Starbucks brewed coffee (16 oz.) 330 mg
Source: Mayo Clinic

How many mg are you consuming each day and is it giving you a coffee belly?  I consume on average around 500mg/day and switch to Decafe coffee after lunch as caffeine interferes with my indigestion and sleep patterns. Might have to reconsider my total intake of coffee after all. 
  1.  Caffeine interacts with some medications, Studies show that drugs like antidepressants, thyroid medication and osteoporosis drugs can be affected by coffee.  Also interfere with absorption of the antibiotic Cipro and the heartburn drug Tagamet. In my case, I take thyroxime, and I will need to ensure that I delay my first cuppa for the day  for ½ hour after taking my medication. Check with your doctor or pharmacist about whether coffee can interact with your medication. With some drugs, you may need to take your pills with water and wait awhile to have that cup of coffee.  With others, drinking decaf or cutting back on your coffee habit may be in order.
  2. Coffee Plus: Coffee itself has very few calories and no fat, but people rarely drink it without something added to modify the taste. Even a shot of flavoured syrup can add calories to a coffee, and some of the more creamy and elaborate concoctions can have as many calories as an entire meal. Milk and cream are also very high in saturated fat, which not only contributes calories but is also dangerous for your health. Plus, there’s also the ‘little treats’ we have with coffee such as biscuits or a sugary breakfast.
  3. Caffeine Use Disorder: Coffee is on of Australia and America’s favourite drugs with millions using it to jump start their day, including me. It is an addictive substance that many people associate with increased energy and alertness. However, over time, many of us we find ourselves having more and more of it and at some point, many people, find they can’t quit even if they want to or if they had to for other health reasons ( pregnancy, or  heart condition).  Anyone who's ever quit cold turkey knows it can trigger pounding headaches, mental fuzziness and fatigue for a couple of days until the body adjusts. Researchers have named the condition “Caffeine Use Disorder,” which characterizes people who find it difficult to quit to the point it interferes with their daily routine. Caffeine is so socially acceptable that people’s unreasonable dependencies often slide under the radar. (Caffeine dependence was even named as a new mental disorder this year.)



  1. Reduces post workout pain: The University of Georgia has found that a moderate dose of caffeine (about two cups of coffee) can reduce post-workout pain by up to 48%.
  2. Increase performance during exercise: A cup of coffee will increase your performance and endurance during training and boost muscle recovery afterwards (Women’s Health magazine 2011).  A little shot of caffeine can give you the energy you need to give 100% during your workout. And giving 100% in the gym means you'll get the results you want more quickly.Ensure you drink coffee an hour or so before a workout as the acid coupled with the agitation from exercise may lead to an upset stomach.


  1. Dehydration. The caffeine in coffee is a mild diuretic and can increase urine excretion. To stay hydrated and keep your stomach fuller, drink a cup of water for every cup of coffee you drink. More if you are exercising or if it’s hot, humid condition
  2. Bone Loss: Caffeine potentially leads to some spinal bone loss in postmenopausal women if they typically drink more than three cups, or 300 mg of caffeine, a day, but don't get enough calcium in their diet. Counter act this with increase in vitamin intake .


After considering all the pros and cons it seems that caffeine may slightly boost weight loss or prevent weight gain, but there's no sound evidence that increased caffeine consumption results in significant or permanent weight loss. The bottom line: Make sure you are staying within the healthy range of use  (400 milligrams or less) . Also keep in mind that some caffeinated beverages, such as specialty coffees, are high in calories and fat. So instead of losing weight, you might actually gain weight if you drink too many of these. 

So, it looks like i'll have to make a few changes to my coffee consumption, especially around how it impacts on my medication.  Also, because a love a milky coffee (no sugar) I know I'm consuming more calories in my beverages than I originally thought. So it looks like i'll have to cut down on my intake somehow (either number of cups or amount of milk in each cup). 

I'd love to hear from you with any hits or tips on how to make the most of your coffee habit. 

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