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If you rely on coffee to get through the day, here’s some great news: each cup could offer you a whole bunch of weight loss benefits. While coffee has long been an energy-boosting beverage, science shows that its caffeine and various nutrients could help your body burn fat, combat hunger and shed extra weight.
What is it that makes coffee such a helpful drink for weight loss? Here’s what you need to know – and why you’ll want to brew a fresh pot after reading.
Coffee may lead to a lower calorie intake
Sipping coffee ahead of your meals can help you consume fewer calories. According to a research review, a cup of caffeinated coffee can potentially help you keep your appetite in check.
In that review, researchers found that caffeinated coffee can influence your appetite, particularly when you drink some anywhere from half an hour to four hours before you sit down to eat. The coffee and its caffeine suppress acute energy intake – or, as it’s better known, your calorie consumption. While it’s unclear if that reduced calorie intake is due to decreased hunger or another effect, coffee in general could help you cut back on your daily caloric intake.
Even drinking just a moderate amount of coffee each day has been found to have the aforementioned effects on your caloric intake. With 200 milliliters of caffeinated coffee daily, you may take in fewer calories both after finishing your coffee and throughout the day.
Caffeine boosts your metabolism
Your metabolism plays a critical role in weight loss – and your metabolism’s ability to burn fat and calories is perhaps most important of all. Coffee could help you get the jumpstart or speed your metabolism needs. However, in order to get this benefit, you’ll have to stick with caffeinated coffee.
Research shows that caffeine can promote weight loss, a healthier BMI and reduce body fat. Caffeine was found to accelerate your metabolism, which leads to increased fat and calorie burning. And the more caffeine participants consumed, the bigger the effect. Every time participants doubled their caffeine intake, researchers saw double the decrease in weight, BMI and fat mass.
While this study didn’t examine coffee directly but instead the effects of caffeine in general, it does offer promising news. Whether you’re getting your caffeine from a cup of coffee or another source, like caffeinated tea, you can get the same metabolism-revving benefits.
Another research study did find that coffee specifically affects your metabolism. Researchers actually set out to examine coffee’s effect on insulin, but they instead noticed something completely different: coffee increased fat burning potential. Participants who drank four cups of caffeinated coffee each day saw a 4 percent decrease in body fat during the study. They lost weight as well as fat mass without increasing their exercise or changing their diets.
With nothing more than a regular cup of caffeinated coffee – or even a few cups – you could see an increase in your fat burning potential.
Coffee can also suppress hunger hormones
The argument over whether caffeine – specifically, the caffeine in coffee – suppresses your appetite is one you’ve likely heard before. While some experts believe that coffee is a natural appetite suppressant, others say it only seems to suppress your hunger. But one thing is certain: coffee does have an effect on how hungry you feel.
A 2014 research study found that drinking a daily cup of coffee can decrease your ghrelin levels. Ghrelin is the hormone that sparks feelings of hunger, and the more ghrelin you have flooding your body, the hungrier you’ll be. Over the course of a four-week period, the study’s participants had increased feelings of fullness with a single cup of coffee per day. They also reduced their food intake overall, a behavior that’s likely connected to those decreased ghrelin levels.
And a separate study found that coffee stimulates another key hunger hormone called peptide YY (PYY). This hormone helps you feel full, and it usually comes into play after you’ve eaten. However, after drinking a cup of coffee – even a decaffeinated cup of coffee – can increase your PYY levels. The study’s participants reported feeling less hungry after drinking both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee, and blood tests showed that they also had more PYY in their plasma.
While the jury’s still out on coffee’s role as an appetite suppressant, there is evidence that shows this beverage can affect your hunger hormones. It won’t keep you from feeling hungry, but it can potentially make you feel less hungry throughout the day. The effects, however, may be limited to a brief window of time after you’ve finished drinking.
Coffee contains polyphenols, which aid weight loss
There’s one more way in which coffee can contribute to your weight loss efforts. Like other foods that make up a healthy diet – plant-based foods in particular – coffee contains powerful antioxidants in the form of polyphenols.
Polyphenols are nutrients that are found in plants, and they’re able to have a positive effect on your health. Based on a research study published in Chemico-Biological Interactions, polyphenols may also make it a little easier to lose weight. These plant antioxidants help introduce beneficial bacteria into your gut, and that bacteria can have a “weight lowering” – or weight loss – effect.
And coffee is particularly polyphenol-rich. It’s considered one of the top 40 sources of polyphenols; it even packs more polyphenols than black or green tea.
Make sure you’re sticking with low-calorie coffee to get the biggest benefit
Coffee offers a whole host of helpful weight loss ingredients and nutrients. While it’s not a magic bullet that’ll help you lose weight with little effort, it may make other efforts – like sticking with a healthy diet and regular exercise – more effective.
If you want to maximize your coffee’s potential, it’s important to make sure you’re keeping your coffee as clean and simple as possible. None of the research studies mentioned here found weight loss benefits in sweetened or additive-filled coffee beverages. Instead, they examined caffeine or black coffee alone.
Black coffee is low in calories and free of extras that can challenge your weight loss efforts. Adding different types of milk or sweeteners can increase the calorie count and alter the nutritional benefits. If you do need a bit of flavor or sweetness, look for clean or sustainable sweeteners.
With its impact on energy levels, metabolism, hunger hormones and other facets of your health, coffee is also great for so much more than just weight loss. You can discover more of the perks of coffee, like: