The Real Truth About Coffee and Weight Loss

09/28/2017 04:14 pm ET

You might rely on coffee only to wake you up in the morning and start your day. That's what the rest of the world does to function. Just notice what happens when your workplace coffeemaker breaks to see what happens when people are deprived of their morning coffee!

But coffee has benefits beyond being your go-to morning stimulant.

Studies show coffee lowers your risk of developing diseases such as Parkinson's disease, type 2 diabetes, and liver disease. It also improves cognitive function and reduces symptoms of depression. Part of its healing effects might be derived from polyphenols which, like with red wine, provide numerous antioxidants and an anti-inflammatory effect.

Now, research is building around coffee and weight loss. Let's take a look at a few of those studies and the benefits of coffee they show.

Benefits of Coffee for Weight Loss

Studies show that coffee stimulates your metabolism. Your metabolism increases significantly in the three hours after drinking coffee. If you work out during that same time frame, your body will burn more fat. So, if you want to reap the most benefits, make sure to work out within 1-3 hours of drinking coffee.

Coffee also allows you to work out harder. Countless studies have shown that coffee makes your workouts feel easier and allows you to work out for longer. It helps you withstand endurance events and blunts the burn from strength training. If you’re running an endurance event, coffee is one of the only legal substances you can drink beforehand to actually enhance performance.

Finally, coffee has been shown to suppress appetite. Perhaps the most compelling tidbit is that decaf coffee appears to suppress appetite the most. This information suggests a chemical in coffee other than caffeine affects your hunger levels. Either way, a cuppa joe may help you avoid the siren song of the food court until you get home and make yourself a healthy dinner.

The Coffee Caveats

Now, you shouldn’t rely on coffee alone to help you lose weight. It's just a booster. By far the best approach to weight loss is a sensible diet and a workout plan. Coffee is just a booster that may help enhance your progress.

You should also know that you can’t just drink any old cup of coffee and consider it healthy. For optimal health benefits, you should drink fewer than four cups of coffee per day. Doctors and scientists have found any consumption over four cups of coffee per day starts to have detrimental effects.

You also want to confine your coffee consumption to mornings. Coffee reaches full effect about an hour after you drink it and stays in your system about 4-5 hours. Drinking it after 4pm might interfere with your sleep, even if you think it shouldn’t be a problem. Since coffee reaches its full effect after an hour, try to earmark a coffee break an hour before you go to the gym to take advantage of the workout boost.

Because coffee is a diuretic, you should also pace your coffee with water. Even minimal dehydration can cancel out that caffeine boost, so it’s important to hydrate with water in between your grande dark roasts.

The antioxidant content is higher in quality coffees than your go-to store brand. To reap the most benefits, you need to splurge. Here’s a great explanation of specialty coffees from the bean to your cup.

Finally, if you put any sugar, sweetener, or cream into our coffee, you undo all the benefits we just talked about. The metabolic boost you get from coffee helps you burn an average of 100 calories. You could easily sabotage your weight loss efforts with the fat, sugar, and calorie content in your #PSL. If you’re looking for little ways to augment your weight loss efforts, you can’t go wrong if you order your coffee black.

The Last Drop

The final message I’d like to leave you with is this: coffee isn’t a magic bullet for weight loss but it can provide a boost, especially when used in conjunction with other small incremental changes. For the best outcome, consume no more than 4 cups before midday and drink it black.

Resources:

Caffeine and Coffee: their influence on metabolic rate and substrate utilization in normal weight and obese individuals.

Effects of caffeine ingestion on rating of perceived exertion during and after exercise

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