A burning question; can coffee help you lose weight?

Can Coffee Help You Lose Weight?

Coffee is a big part of many people’s daily routine. In fact, about 64% of American adults drink at least one cup of coffee each day. Whether it’s an important part of your morning or you use it as an afternoon pick-me-up, coffee is a staple in most people’s diets. It always seems like there’s conflicting information about this little bean. One minute you might hear that coffee is good for you, while the next you can hear about some of the risks of drinking too much.

While there is evidence for both benefits and risks, one of the consistent questions that has come up about this typical daily drink is whether it can help you lose weight. Can you drink coffee when you’re on a diet, or will it sabotage your weight loss goals?

It’s a good question to ask since coffee is such an integral part of our culture, and since obesity is a major problem in the United States. So, should you keep drinking your morning cup if you’re trying to shed a few pounds?

Let’s find out.

The Obesity Problem

Diet, obesity, overweight

Before we get into whether or not coffee can help you lose weight, it’s important to address the obesity problem facing this country. Over 160 million Americans are currently considered obese or overweight. There are different factors that contribute to obesity, but many times it’s a combination of a poor diet and lack of physical activity.

It’s not just adults who face the obesity epidemic. It’s a rising problem with children in America, too. Over the last 30 years, childhood obesity has gone up by 300%, and it’s now considered an epidemic.

Obesity is more than just a surface problem. It can lead to a variety of different health problems and conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and even an increased risk of certain types of cancer. Obesity also puts an extra strain on your veins, making it harder for your body to pump blood efficiently. This can lead to vein disease and varicose veins.

Because obesity is such a serious problem, it makes sense for people to want to start taking better care of themselves. If you’re clinically obese, getting to a healthy weight is important. So, if coffee is a part of your daily routine, can it actually help you lose weight, or is it stifling your weight loss goals?

Can You Still Sip and Slim Down?

Girl measuring herself after her morning coffee

The key to understanding coffee’s effects on weight loss is to know what “brown fat” is. Brown fat doesn’t sound all that appealing, but it’s a type of fat cell that helps to generate heat. Brown fat cells burn energy, while white fat cells store energy.

Earlier this year, research was done to determine if the caffeine in coffee could stimulate your body’s brown fat cells, helping them to burn more energy/fat. The studies showed that people who drank a cup of coffee instead of water (a control group), increased skin temperature, which can trigger the increased activity of brown fat.

Unfortunately, the researchers only experimented with a small group of people, and the collected cells were looked at in a lab. In order for the coffee to have a noticeable effect on the human body’s ability to burn fat, you would have to drink about 100 cups per day. So, does coffee help you lose weight? There’s not a crystal clear answer yet since more research needs to be done. But, if you’re on a diet and trying to lose weight, there is good news.

Coffee is a non-caloric beverage. If you drink it black, it won’t affect your diet, even if you’re trying to restrict calories. Adding things like cream, sugar, and other toppings to your coffee, or getting mixed coffee drinks from your favorite coffee shop, is different. Some of those specialty drinks can end up being hundreds of calories, and can sabotage your weight loss goals without you even realizing it.

Health Benefits of Your Morning Joe

Young woman sipping her morning joe

If you’re trying to lose weight by exercising more, coffee can help. It reduces muscle pain, can give your metabolism a boost, and can improve both blood flow and endurance during a workout. Don’t be afraid to drink a cup or two before your morning workout, and you might be surprised at how energized you feel. You don’t need to buy fancy sports drinks or energy drinks filled with chemicals when your standard cup of coffee can give your body the energy it needs to get through an exercise routine.

In addition to giving your workout an edge, the health benefits of coffee go far beyond losing weight. Coffee is full of antioxidants and can help to lower your risk of certain diseases, including type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s, certain cancers, and dementia.

Because of the antioxidants in coffee and its ability to lower your risk of disease, some studies have suggested that people who drink coffee on a regular basis actually live longer than those who don’t.

There are plenty of myths out there about some of the risks of coffee, but most of them are nothing to worry about. For example, some people believe that coffee causes high blood pressure and even hypertension. The truth? There are many more greater causes of hypertension than coffee. Coffee can create a nominally small rise in your blood pressure, but not to a dangerous level. On top of that, the “boost” goes away very quickly. In fact, some research has suggested that drinking coffee can reduce your risk of stroke (sometimes caused by hypertension).

Final Thoughts

The obesity problem in this country is dangerous and scary, but it can be hard to make big dietary changes to lose weight. Thankfully, if you keep your coffee black and don’t over-indulge in sweet treats from the local coffee shop, it can absolutely be a part of your weight loss plan. While there is still more research to be done regarding coffee’s ability to help you lose weight, you can take comfort in knowing it won’t ruin your diet plans and could make working out easier for you. 

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