Does Coffee Help You Burn Fat?

Our fast-paced, modern lifestyle contributes to the growing number of people with diabetes, obesity, cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Weight gain is one of the leading health problems in the world and it affects people of all ages; yes, even unborn babies are prone to weight gain if their moms do not eat a well-balanced diet.

Given the growing concern about weight gain, people are always on the lookout for ways to manage their weight, effectively. There are various diets that promise to help you lose weight in just two weeks. There are exercises, although a bit difficult and high-intensity, but are guaranteed to burn those fats quickly, and there are foods and drinks that will help you burn fat naturally.

Did you know that coffee is one of those drinks that can help you burn fat? I can see coffee lovers smiling right now. At the same time, some non-coffee lovers might be raising eyebrows while reading this.

Let me share some evidence that points to the fact that coffee is a good drink to help you burn fat, naturally.

Coffee for weight loss, how?

During a 12-week clinical study, researchers found that coffee drinkers lost 1.7 kg compared to the control group who did not drink any coffee during the same period. What helped them lose weight? According to the researchers, the chlorogenic acid, an antioxidant found in coffee, has a significant effect in absorbing and converting the glucose from the diet.

In another study conducted by the Korean Society of Food and Science Technology, the team of researchers noted the increase in metabolism and activated sweat gland density among the group who had a regular coffee intake. The researchers attributed the fact that caffeine stimulated the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for sweating, and lipolysis, which is responsible for breaking down fatty deposits in the body and converting this to energy.

A report from the International Journal of Obesity, published in 2010, noted that thermogenic compounds — like caffeine — might work better in some people than in others, or they might only work effectively under some circumstances.

One study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology in 2015, studied the dietary habits of more than 93,000 people to look for patterns between coffee consumption and weight. The study authors observed that people who drank more coffee had a lower risk of obesity, as well as a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

Can you just drink any coffee to burn fat?

Unfortunately, coffee and coffee-based drinks are not created equal.

If you frequent coffee shops and drink coffee laden with whipped cream, chocolate syrup, candy sprinkles, marshmallows and more, you are bound to gain weight no matter how much espresso is present in your drink. While black coffee is a good for fat burning, those sugary toppings mixed in and on that drink is the culprit. A grande Frappuccino has an average of 420 calories, compared to just 5 calories of a cup of freshly brewed coffee.

Here is a list of common coffee drinks and their estimated calorie count:

  • Caramel Frappuccino coffee, no whip – 280 calories
  • Caramel Frappuccino coffee, whip – 430 calories
  • Latte, non-fat – 165 calories
  • Latte, whole milk – 260 calories
  • Café mocha, whole milk, whip – 400 calories
  • Café mocha, non-fat milk, whip – 330 calories
  • Café mocha, non-fat, no whip – 220 calories
  • Mocha malt Frappuccino coffee, whip – 570 calories
  • Cappuccino, whole milk – 150 calories
  • Cappuccino, non-fat milk – 100 calories
  • Black coffee – 5 calories

If you drink coffee, serving it black is your best option for weight loss. Black coffee is calorie-free — it’s the cream and sugar that boost the weight gain. A single cup of coffee with 2 teaspoons of sugar and an ounce of half-and-half can easily increase from 5 calories to 69 calories and, because the average American drinks roughly 3 cups of coffee a day, that adds up to an extra 207 calories. If you were to switch from coffee with sugar and cream to black coffee every day for a year, you’d save more than 75,000 calories — the equivalent of almost 22 pounds of fat. Imagine that!

What makes coffee a good fat burner?

Coffee is rich in antioxidants that help promote good health. Here are three elements in coffee that can help boost metabolism:

  • Caffeine – a central nervous system stimulant.
  • Theobromine and Theophylline – substances related to caffeine that can also have a stimulant effect.
  • Chlorogenic Acid – one of the biologically active compounds in coffee, may help slow absorption of carbohydrates

Among the three elements, caffeine is the most potent ingredient of coffee that contributes to burning fat and boosting metabolism.

In the brain, what caffeine does is block an inhibitory neurotransmitter called adenosine. By blocking adenosine, caffeine increases the firing of neurons and the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine. As a result, it sends direct signals to the fat cells to tell them to break down fat.

Another thing that caffeine does is to increase our blood levels of the hormone epinephrine, which is also known as adrenaline. Epinephrine travels through the blood, to the fat tissues and send signals to break down fats and release them into the blood.

This is how caffeine helps to mobilize fat from the fat tissues, making it available for use as free fatty acids in the blood. As our metabolic rate increases, it is easier for us to lose weight. Studies showed that caffeine can increase metabolic rate by 3 to 11 percent.

Other health benefits of coffee

  • Regular coffee drinking can be part of a healthy, balanced diet and lifestyle and moderate coffee consumption. Health experts suggest two to three cups daily.
  • Scientific evidence also suggests that moderate coffee consumption may actually offer a number of benefits. For example, the European Food Safety Authority recently stated that caffeine improves both sports performance (endurance exercise) and increases attention and alertness
  • Drinking low acid coffee can help with stomach sensitivities compared to regular coffee.
  • However, some individuals may choose to switch to decaffeinated coffee e.g. pregnant women and those sensitive to the stimulant effects of caffeine late afternoon/evening. For these individuals, decaffeinated coffee provides an alternative so they can still enjoy the taste and aroma of coffee.
  • Moderate coffee consumption is not linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular problems, such as heart disease, heart attacks, irregular heartbeat or high blood pressure
  • Research also suggests that, in both men and women, drinking coffee in moderation may reduce their risk of stroke, but no firm conclusion has yet been drawn
  • Coffee’s effects on cholesterol levels are largely dependent on the method of brewing. Filtered coffee is not associated with a significant increase in cholesterol levels, while boiled coffee can raise cholesterol levels.

You see, coffee can help you lose weight, but do not be deceived that coffee is a miracle drink. It can contribute to burning fat quickly but you need to drink in moderation and combine it with a healthy diet and daily exercise to get the most out of every cup. Enjoy your coffee today!

Brian Mounts

Head blogger, editor, and owner of "Top Off My Coffee", a website that has been educating readers about coffee brewing techniques and equipment since 2012.

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