We love caffeine because it keeps us alert and energized. Nothing is quite as satisfying as a morning cup of coffee to get us moving in the right direction. You might have heard that because caffeine is considered a stimulant, it can promote weight-loss. Is this true?
Quick Facts about Caffeine
Before we dig deeper, let’s look at some quick facts. In North America, nearly 90 percent of adults consume caffeine daily. It is estimated that these consumers have at least one caffeinated beverage per day. That’s a lot!
History tells us that caffeine has been around for quite some time in many different cultures. You can mostly find it in the beans of the coffee plant, leaves of the tea bush and in various products made from the kola nut. Here is a quick glance at some of the most common caffeinated products and how much is in them:
- Coffee (brewed – 6 oz.) – 100 mg/serving
- Tea (brewed – 6 oz.) – 40 mg/serving
- Red Bull Energy Drink (8.3 oz.) – 76 mg/serving
- Monster Energy Drink (16 oz.) – 160 mg/serving
- Coca Cola (12 oz.) – 35 mg/serving
Caffeine and Weight-loss
So can caffeine help you lose weight? Some research might point to this, but no solid clinical research has proven weight-loss as a benefit. However, there are some side effects of caffeine that may lead to short-term changes in your weight. They just aren’t conclusive:
- 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 Increase Energy Production (Thermogenesis) – Scientists say this probably isn’t enough to produce weight-loss.
- May Reduce Desire to Eat – Evidence shows that this benefit may only be for a short period of time and appetite will resume as 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 to weight gain. This is mostly because caffeine can affect your cravings for food. Here are some of its drawbacks:
Caffeine raises your stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol tells your body to increase its energy stores and raise your heart rate as well as your blood pressure. Stress can make you feel uncomfortable and trigger emotional eating.
Your blood sugar may decrease if your blood glucose levels drop. This may increase your appetite and cause you to crave high-calorie comfort foods. You will want to eat foods high in glucose like starches, sweets, fruits and milk.
With excess caffeine, glucose and insulin can build up in your blood. Insulin regulates your blood sugar and affects your fat storage as well as appetite. Too much insulin can cause you to store more fat from food and sugars.
Insulin resistance 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, especially with comfort foods, and gain weight.
The Bottom Line:
It’s safe to say that caffeine can have a lot of different effects on your weight. 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 coffee/tea per day, this is probably fine and won’t cause too much harm. However, limit the amount of caffeine you drink to avoid weight gain. Also, remember to use sweeteners like milk, cream and sugar in moderation so you don’t consume a lot of extra calories.
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