Many of us consider caffeine to be a necessity because it helps us stay energized and alert. Sometimes, there is nothing quite as satisfying as a fresh cup of coffee in the morning to jump-start the day. In fact, approximately 62% of Americans drink coffee daily with the average being three cups/day. Coffee isn’t the only beverage or food with caffeine in it, though.
When it comes to caffeine, many people think of it as a stimulant, therefore assuming it promotes weight-loss. But before we dive in to whether or not this is really true, let’s take a look at some more interesting facts about caffeine.
- In North America, nearly 90% of adults drink at least one caffeinated beverage each day.
- These days, caffeine can be found in chewing gum, infused in drinks, nutrition bars, bath products, candy and more.
- In people who consume caffeine daily, it can amplify their stress response (heart rate, blood pressure) and increase the release of stress hormones.
- Caffeine resembles a brain chemical called adenosine, a neurotransmitter, and speeds up nerve cell activity so we feel more awake.
Caffeine and Weight-loss
So here’s the question we all want to know: will caffeine help me lose weight?
While some research might point to this, no solid clinical research has been done to confirm that weight-loss is a guaranteed benefit of consuming caffeine. However, there are some specific side effects that may lead to short-term changes in your weight. These findings are not conclusive, but they are interesting to consider.
- May Enhance Physical Performance – One study showed that cyclists who had caffeine before a race showed a 44% increase in endurance compared to those who did not.
- May Boost Metabolism – Some research points to caffeine potentially increasing fat-burning during exercise and speeding up your metabolism. But if this is true, the difference isn’t very significant.
- May Reduce Appetite – Caffeine is often thought to reduce cravings and appetite. However, evidence shows that this benefit may only last for a short period of time before your appetite returns to normal.
Caffeine and Weight Gain
Just as some research points to a short-term connection between caffeine and weight-loss, some research also points to a connection with weight gain.
Here are some of the known side effects that can impact weight gain:
- Increased Production of Cortisol – Caffeine triggers the release of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol signals your body to increase its energy stores, increase your heart rate and elevate your blood pressure. Stress can make you feel uncomfortable and trigger emotional eating.
- May Lower Insulin Sensitivity – Caffeine can make it tougher to bring your blood sugar down to a healthy point after eating. This can lead to higher blood sugar levels, insulin resistance and increased risk for diabetes.
- Poor Quality Sleep – Caffeinated foods and beverages consumed later in the day can cause insomnia and sleep deprivation. Not getting enough sleep has been shown to increase hunger and decrease feelings of fullness. This can cause you to overeat and gain weight, especially if you are eating a lot of high-fat, high-sugar and high-calorie foods.
- Increased Calorie Consumption – Many caffeinated beverages are sweetened to taste less bitter. This means that they are loaded with sugar and calories. Daily Frappuccinos, lattes or sweetened iced coffees can add up to 1000 extra calories each week!
Caffeine can have various impacts on your weight depending on different factors. Research is conflicting and seems to offer evidence for both weight-loss and weight gain. However, the benefit of weight-loss is likely to only be short-term.
If you have a cup or two of unsweetened or lightly-sweetened coffee/tea a day, this is probably fine and won’t cause noticable changes in your weight. Too much caffeine, on the other hand, can have unpredictable impacts on your appetite, stress response and more.
One last thing to remember is that if you like creams and sweeteners in your caffeinated beverages, use these in moderation to control your calorie, fat and sugar consumption.