Is Black Coffee Good for Weight Loss?
Weight loss works on the premise of calorie deficit, and is attained by consuming fewer calories than you burn. This can be achieved by modifying either nutrition, exercise, or a combination of the two. Stimulants are often seen as a way to assist with weight loss. One such stimulant is coffee, which is a popular drink globally and is enjoyed by countless people around the world.
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Coffee is highly prized as a beverage for its ability to perk us up, mainly due to the caffeine it contains. An average cup of coffee provides 80mg–175mg of caffeine, depending on the type of brew and the mode of preparation. Beyond its stimulating effects, coffee has several health benefits, some of which are well known. But how does coffee affect weight? Let us explore some of its health benefits and answer this important and often-asked question.
How does coffee consumption affect body weight?
Coffee has several properties owing to the caffeine present in it. Caffeine works as a diuretic, which means that it causes you to lose more fluid in the form of urine. It also has several other benefits such as lowering fatigue, increasing metabolism, and improving alertness. It is the presence of caffeine that is attributed to weight loss benefits.
Black coffee may be a better choice than other coffee beverages that are loaded with excess calories from sugary syrups, milk and/or cream, but is it possible to lose weight by drinking black coffee?
Recent research in Indonesian adults has shown that coffee intake is inversely related to body weight, body mass index (BMI), and body fat. That is, the more coffee people consumed, the lower their body weight, BMI, and body fat. This will undoubtedly be reassuring to avid coffee drinkers. These relationships were also independent of total caffeine intake from tea, coffee, chocolate, and other sources.
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A pooled analysis of randomized-controlled trials from Iran found that for every doubling in caffeine intake, losses in body weight, BMI, and body fat increased by 22%, 17%, and 28%, respectively.
The message we can take away from this study is that the caffeine component of the coffee we consume may have an important role in weight loss and desirable changes in body composition.
A safe amount of caffeine consumption per day for adults is capped at 400mg. There is conflicting evidence as to how much caffeine intake can induce weight loss. Certain studies have shown that a caffeine intake of up to 400mg can induce weight loss, while other studies have pointed out that more than this amount is to be consumed in order to lose weight.
Here is a perspective of the amount of caffeine present in commonly consumed types of black coffee:
- One cup (237ml) of an americano contains 75mg of caffeine
- An espresso shot (44ml) contains 150mg of caffeine
A study carried out in Singapore recently showed that 24 weeks of consuming 4 cups of instant, caffeinated, regular coffee per day decreased fat mass by 3.7% on average when compared with a placebo group. This is however a modest decrease, given the amount of time it took to lose this amount of fat.
To put the findings in perspective, an 80 kg individual would lose just over 3 kg in body weight after 24 weeks of consuming 4 cups of coffee daily, which isn’t a particularly notable amount. Better results could well have been obtained from reducing energy intake and engaging in an exercise programme to modify body composition. However, that isn’t to say that coffee consumption can’t contribute towards the overall strategy of losing body weight, ideally fat mass.
Are there any issues associated with coffee intake?
Although coffee has a broad range of health benefits for chronic disease and can potentially be consumed in support of weight loss, there are a few populations that should be careful with the amount of coffee that they consume.
Certain people may experience symptoms of anxiety, insomnia, and/or feel jittery in response to higher amounts of caffeine. People with difficulty in regulating their blood pressure might also benefit from reducing their caffeine intake. Decaffeinated coffee can be consumed as a useful alternative if someone is sensitive to caffeine intake.
The key takeaway message here is that black coffee, either caffeinated or decaffeinated, could be the best choice as the extra cream, milk, sugar, and flavoured syrups added to other preparations can negate any beneficial health effects obtained from drinking this simple brew.
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