Coffee and the caffeine that the beverage contains provide a variety of health benefits that can support body composition and longevity. There has been a lot of media interest and marketing claims about using coffee for weight loss—are they too good to be true?
There is compelling evidence that coffee increases your metabolic rate so that you burn more calories, and it can help shift the body to burn fat rather than glucose for energy. In addition, we know coffee enhances the body’s defenses against reactive oxygen species, can help modulate blood sugar, and may even reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Therefore, if you really want to lose fat and maintain a lean body composition, coffee can be your energizing beverage of choice, however, it is not going to save you from a life of fatness if you are not eating right and training regularly. But, let’s see what the new research tells us.
A recent study tested the effect of dark roast compared to light roast coffee on antioxidant status and body weight in a healthy German population. Both coffees contained antioxidants, however the dark roast is high in something called N-methylpyridinium and the light roast is high in chlorogenic acids. Results showed that drinking 500 ml of dark roast coffee daily for four weeks resulted in a better antioxidant status than drinking the same amount of light roast coffee.
Participants in the dark roast group who were overweight lost an average of 2.5 kg, whereas participants who were classified as “normal weight” did not lose any weight. There was no significant weight change in the light roast group.
The drop in body weight in the dark roast group is almost certainly due to the participants eating less since researchers found that total energy intake dropped significantly during the dark roast trial. This was not a planned part of the study. Rather, the participants naturally ate 200 fewer calories a day than they did during a washout period that included no coffee. Presumably, the dark roast coffee influenced hunger and blood sugar levels, leading participants to choose to eat less.
Take away that dark roast coffee will improve your antioxidant status, which is critical for overall health and a component of a healthy metabolism. It may help suppress appetite so that you eat less, and if you pair it will a higher protein diet, you could be on your way to a lifestyle diet that would allow you to achieve optimal body composition. And since we are on the topic of coffee roasting, let’s consider the use of green coffee extract for fat loss.
One study compared the effect of giving participants a high-dose green coffee extract (1050 mg), a low-dose (700 mg), or a placebo for six weeks and found that the large dose resulted in an average 8 kg loss in body weight and a 4.4 percent drop in body fat—very impressive. The low dose and placebo produced no changes in body composition.
An analysis of all published studies on using green coffee extract for weight loss showed an average 2.47 kg drop in body weight compared to placebos. The reviewers caution that many of the studies are of poor methodological quality, but they write that using green coffee extract for weight loss to be “promising.”
The take away is that using green coffee extract and drinking dark roast coffee may help you lose fat, but coffee is not a magic weight loss solution. If your goal is long-term health and lean body composition, start by training hard and eating right, and there’s no reason not to enjoy coffee with a nice dose of caffeine pre-workout. To read more about coffee and how it can get you ready to train, check out the tip Drink Coffee to Be Healthier and Lift More Weight.
Vinson, J., Burnham, B., et al. 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. 2012. 5, 21-27.
Onakpova, I., Terry, R., et al. The Use of Green Coffee Extract as a Weight Loss Supplement: a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials. Gastroenterology Research and Practice. 2011.