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Published on July 9, 2021

Does Coffee Help You Lose Weight?

Does Coffee Help You Lose Weight?
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If you’ve been whining until now about how all the good things in life are unhealthy to consume, then look no further than your good old ‘‘cup of joe.’’ There’s a lot that can happen over a cup of coffee.

Coffee is a guilty pleasure that can have significant health benefits, including losing weight. Yes, you read that right!

Combined with a healthy lifestyle that includes nutritious food and regular exercise, consuming coffee is a complimentary weight loss strategy when consumed lean, in moderation, and at optimal times.

Let’s discuss how coffee helps your body burn fat and improves your metabolism. We will also learn if there is such a thing as too much coffee and the right way to drink it to reap its health benefits.

What Makes Coffee a Potent Weight Loss Potion?

One word: Caffeine.

Caffeine, the world’s most commonly consumed psychoactive substance, is a key ingredient in most commercial fat-burning supplements. It can boost your metabolism, make you alert and active, and help mobilize and burn fat tissues.[1]

You will also find caffeine in most beverages like coffee, tea, colas, cocoa-based drinks, and energy drinks (colas, cocoa-based drinks, and energy drinks are not advised for consumption due to high sugar content).

Three theories indicate how coffee may help in weight loss:

  • By suppressing your appetite
  • By improving your metabolism
  • By burning fat

Let’s take a closer look at how coffee helps you lose weight and the evidence for it.

Does Coffee Suppress Your Appetite?

Coffee can help you in working towards your weight loss goals. Drinking coffee suppresses your feelings of hunger and appetite. Your appetite is affected by many factors, including your physical activity levels, lifestyle and food habits, and hormones.[2]

Caffeine stimulates the hormone peptide YY (PYY), also known as the satiety hormone.[3] The more coffee you drink, the more you feel less hungry and more satisfied. It also reduces the levels of the hormone ghrelin that is responsible for making you feel hungry.

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A European 2014 study confirmed the role of coffee in suppressing your appetite and hunger feelings. Participants reduced their food intake and reported feeling satiated within four weeks of drinking coffee daily.[4]

Does Coffee Burn Fat?

Here is an interesting angle to your coffee consumption: coffee can help in fat mobilization.

Caffeine triggers the nervous system, sending direct signals to the fat cells in your body to break down fat. It achieves this by increasing the blood levels of the hormone epinephrine, also called adrenaline. The adrenaline travels through your blood to the fat tissues, signaling them to break down fats and release them into your bloodstream.[5]

Coffee brings more good news for women than men based on the 2020 study published in The Journal of Nutrition.[6] In the recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, it was found that women who drink two to three cups of coffee daily have a lower total body and stomach fat (adiposity).

The research findings were consistent among those who consumed coffee that was caffeinated/decaffeinated, among smokers/non-smokers, and among those who have chronic conditions or not. Similar effects of coffee on body fat loss have also been documented in other research studies.[7] There may be bioactive compounds in coffee other than caffeine that contribute to weight loss.[8]

Does Coffee Increase Metabolism?

Coffee contains several biologically active substances that boost your metabolism, such as caffeine, theobromine, theophylline, and chlorogenic acid.[9]

Another fascinating fact is that coffee aids in calorie burning even when your body is at rest. The rate at which your body burns calories at rest is called resting metabolic rate (RMR). Various studies have proven that caffeine taken in larger doses can increase RMR by 3-11%. Caffeine stimulates the process of thermogenesis or heat and energy production from food digestion in your body.[10]

The study also found that the effect was more pronounced in lean and young people than those who were obese or aged. The effect may vary depending on each case.

Here’s what research has to say about coffee’s metabolism-boosting properties. The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researchers conducted a 24-week study that monitored the effect of coffee on 126 overweight non-insulin sensitive people in Singapore over six months. Half of the participants were asked to drink four cups of caffeinated instant coffee daily. The other half of the group were asked to consume a coffee-like beverage but neither coffee nor caffeinated.

The original goal was to investigate if coffee consumption reduces the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Instead, the researchers discovered that drinking four cups of coffee daily could reduce body fat by 4%. They firmly believe that fat loss is fueled by coffee and the result of a “metabolic reaction.” Caffeine ramps up the metabolic process and hence, the body’s ability to burn more calories with a modest loss of body fat.[11]

The metabolism and fat-burning properties of coffee were also studied in another research conducted by Derrick Alperet, a study co-author and research fellow in the Department of Nutrition, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The study confirmed that coffee consumption leads to an increase in metabolism, burning more calories, and reducing body fat.[12]

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Is There a Dark Side to Coffee?

Coffee is like a double-edged sword. Drinking too much coffee can negatively impact your health, causing headaches, jitters, digestion troubles, a spike in blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, increased palpitations, and even weight gain.

Coffee is akin to a drug as caffeine affects your pleasure centers, increasing dopamine levels and making you happier. The problem arises when you cannot function properly without coffee and feel grumpy, anxious, or jittery. It’s a red flag signaling addiction, dependence, and a relook into your sleep habits and mental health.

If you struggle with mental health challenges, then you might be particularly sensitive to coffee and its mind-altering effects. High doses of caffeine can cause a spike in anxiety and panic attacks.

It was proven in a joint study by the Sleep Disorders & Research Center, Henry Ford Hospital, and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, Wayne State College of Medicine in Detroit that caffeine taken six hours before bedtime had disruptive effects on sleep, causing or worsening insomnia.[13]

Sleep is a key weight loss tool, and when coffee consumption hampers your sleep routine, it puts you at risk for weight gain and obesity. Another study confirmed that losing sleep for 30 minutes every day can cause weight gain and promote the onset of type 2 diabetes.[14] So, gulping coffee to keep you alert and awake during the nighttime can harm your health, leading to weight gain and other complications. Poor sleep habits are often linked to increased appetite and cravings, specifically for high-calorie foods.

Studies have proven the link between the lack of sleep and an increase in ghrelin, the hormone that regulates your feelings of hunger, leading to greater calorie consumption and weight gain.[15][16]

Also, not all coffee drinks are alike. Several popular versions, such as a specialty frappuccino or macchiato, are loaded with sugar and fat, and regular consumption of these kinds of coffee will make you gain weight.

Coffee benefits are also dose-dependent. According to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, drinking about 400 milligrams (or about four cups) is considered safe, and that’s the dose that optimizes the metabolic and hunger suppression effects of caffeine. Each person should discuss the appropriate number of cups of coffee with their doctor. Anything above the recommended dose can lead to harmful health benefits and may negate the weight loss benefits.[17]

What Makes Coffee Good for Your Health?

There is a dark side to coffee consumption, but it is not as evil as it sounds either. It has scores of health benefits.

Coffee contains nutrients such as niacin, potassium, magnesium, and antioxidants, all of which can improve your heart health, digestive health, and support muscle function. It also contains caffeine, which boosts your energy, metabolism and can promote weight loss.

The popular misconception that coffee is a diuretic is not proven scientifically, and it does not increase the risk of dehydration. Coffee in moderation adds to your daily intake of fluids.[18]

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Regular coffee consumption also boosts your antioxidant intake. Coffee contains powerful antioxidants known as polyphenols which are plant micronutrients. Polyphenols have been linked to brain health, digestion, and decreasing your risk for certain chronic conditions.

Let’s discuss how to drink coffee for effective and sustainable weight loss in the next section.

How to Drink Coffee for Weight Loss

Yes, there are scientifically proven ways by which you can drink coffee that can help you lose weight. Here are some ways you can drink coffee for improved health, including modest weight loss.

1. Keep Your Coffee Lean

While you can enjoy a frappuccino as an occasional treat, it’s best to make your coffee light daily. Your best bet is black coffee as it makes the perfect beverage for those aiming for weight loss.[19] Black coffee contains less than five calories per serving (i.e., one 8-oz cup). If you have a sensitive stomach, have a light cracker with your black coffee.

If black coffee is not your thing, then you can add a dash of skimmed milk—regular or plant-based with preferably no sugar or low-calorie alternative natural sweeteners like stevia and erythritol. Coffee can be a healthy or unhealthy drink, depending on what you put in it.

Try not to consume more than four 8-oz cups of coffee that amounts to 400mg of caffeine every day for modest weight loss. If you prefer strong coffee, then consume less than the recommended four cups as too much caffeine in your body can unleash the dark side of it. Also, factor in the other caffeine-based foods, beverages, and medication you currently consume before deciding upon the cap on your daily coffee count.

2. Drink Your Coffee at Optimal Times

The world population consumes around 167 million bags of coffee annually. The average American drinks four cups of coffee daily, while the Europeans consume an average of seven cups of coffee daily.[20]

Coffee is a popular drink globally as it’s proven to boost energy and keep you alert. These properties of coffee can aid you in your weight loss goals.

Having a cup of black or lean coffee before your daily workout can help you lose weight fast. Research has proven that caffeine improves your exercise performance by around 11% on average.[21][22] It’s why coffee is consumed before doing endurance sports like running or biking as it helps you move faster with less muscle pain.[23]

Caffeine blocks adenosine, an inhibitory neurotransmitter, and releases a spurt of neurons and neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine, making you feel more energized and alert.

There is also a cut-off time for having coffee. Since coffee blocks adenosine, making you feel more awake, it can interfere with your sleep and hormone regulation if you consume it in the latter half of the day. It takes about 45 minutes for caffeine to affect your body and as much time to be absorbed in your cell membranes. The effect of caffeine can last for several hours.[24]

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Sleep is a critical weight loss tool. So, abstain from having coffee at least six to seven hours before your bedtime for quality sleep and hormone regulation. If you have insomnia, it’s suggested to stop coffee or any caffeine-based food consumption at noon.

3. Take Intermittent Breaks

You will become tolerant of the effects of caffeine over time if you regularly consume it. So, all the positive effects of caffeine or coffee, such as speeding up the metabolism and burning fat, flatten out as time passes by. However, it does continue to suppress your hunger and appetite and may make you eat less.

To make coffee a sustainable weight loss tool, give it and other caffeine-containing foods a break for some time before incorporating them into your diet again. You can gradually cut down coffee or go on a complete caffeine detox for cycles of one week, two weeks, and so on.[25] This way, your body doesn’t get used to caffeine, and its positive effects on your body aren’t wasted.

If you are habituated to coffee, opt for the decaffeinated kind in the interim period, or try other healthy beverages such as fruit and vegetable-based drinks as you work towards better health.

Does Coffee Actually Help You Lose Weight?

Coffee alone won’t help you lose weight. But it can be used as a weight-loss tool when consumed lean, in moderation, and at optimal times. As long as you are having your coffee lean at no more than 400mg of caffeine a day and not before six to seven hours before bedtime, it is a healthy beverage that’s superpowered with antioxidants. Please consult your doctor regarding your personalized coffee drinking plan.

However, you have to be mindful of the dark side of coffee if you have chronic conditions or struggle with mental health issues. Too much coffee can make you nervous, irritable, dependent, cause digestion problems, nausea, insomnia, increased blood pressure, heart rate, and other health problems.

You may also need to take a break from coffee for it to work as a sustainable weight-loss tool for you as its effect is diminished in the long term due to tolerance.

When combined with a healthy lifestyle that includes nutritious food and regular exercise, consuming coffee can be a complimentary weight loss strategy. But as coffee affects everyone differently, it’s advisable to consult your family physician about its use as a weight-loss tool for your lifestyle.

More About the Effects of Coffee

Featured photo credit: Crystal Shaw via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Healthline: Can Coffee Increase Your Metabolism and Help You Burn Fat?
[2] Mayo Clinic: Does caffeine help with weight loss?
[3] PubMed.gov: Coffee, hunger, and peptide YY
[4] ScienceDirect: Four-week coffee consumption affects energy intake, satiety regulation, body fat, and protects DNA integrity
[5] The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Metabolic effects of caffeine in humans: lipid oxidation or futile cycling?
[6] The Journal of Nutrition: Regular Coffee Consumption Is Associated with Lower Regional Adiposity Measured by DXA among US Women
[7] Harvard School of Public Health: Four cups of coffee a day associated with a modest loss of body fat
[8] NCBI: Mechanisms of action of coffee bioactive components on lipid metabolism
[9] Journal of Internal Medicine: Metabolomic response to coffee consumption: application to a three-stage clinical trial
[10] PubMed.gov: Normal caffeine consumption: influence on thermogenesis and daily energy expenditure in lean and postobese human volunteers
[11] Harvard School of Public Health: Four cups of coffee a day associated with a modest loss of body fat
[12] The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: The effect of coffee consumption on insulin sensitivity and other biological risk factors for type 2 diabetes: a randomized placebo-controlled trial
[13] Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine: Caffeine Effects on Sleep Taken 0, 3, or 6 Hours before Going to Bed
[14] ScienceDaily: Losing 30 minutes of sleep per day may promote weight gain and adversely affect blood sugar control
[15] NCBI: Short Sleep Duration Is Associated with Reduced Leptin, Elevated Ghrelin, and Increased Body Mass Index
[16] Harvard School of Public Health: 3 ways decreased sleep contributes to overeating
[17] Mayo Clinic: Caffeine: How much is too much?
[18] Mayo Clinic: I’ve been seeing ads that say caffeinated drinks hydrate you as well as water does. Is this true?
[19] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Water and Healthier Drinks
[20] Statista: Coffee consumption worldwide from 2012/13 to 2020/21
[21] Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports: Effects of caffeine ingestion on rating of perceived exertion during and after exercise: a meta-analysis
[22] Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition: Caffeine increases maximal fat oxidation during a graded exercise test: is there a diurnal variation?
[23] WebMD: How Caffeine Affects Your Body
[24] ResearchGate: Early effects of caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee on subjective state and gender differences
[25] Caffeine Informer: Caffeine Tolerance: Causes, Prevention, and Reset

More by this author

Dr. Arun Villivalam

General Practitioner and Primary Care Doctor

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Last Updated on December 18, 2020

17 Power Pressure Cooker Recipes for Rushed Weeknight Meals

17 Power Pressure Cooker Recipes for Rushed Weeknight Meals
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Weeknights are wild. There are hobby meetings, sports events, date nights, late-night work calls, kids’ bath time, TV show premiers (of course), and there’s also… dinner?

Trying to cram in making a recipe, eating dinner (let alone enjoying the meal) and cleaning the kitchen in under an hour always seemed like it would take some sort of divine intervention. Well, let me introduce you to the power pressure cooker, aka the game changer.

The power pressure cooker makes the impossible possible. You can create a healthy, balanced meal in under an hour from start to finish. Even decadent dishes such as braised short ribs or whole meals such as salmon with potatoes and broccoli can be enjoyed from start to finish with breeze on a weeknight.

Is there anything easier than throwing your whole meal in one pot and letting the pot do the work? I can’t think of anything. It’s as if you significantly upgraded the already kitchen staple, the crockpot.

Here are some of my favorite power pressure cooker recipes to get dinner on the table under pressure:

1. Ramen Soup

    For those nights when all you need is a big hug, ramen is the perfect dish! High in anti-inflammatory ingredients such as fresh ginger, garlic and spinach this 20-minute soup is good for you in every which way.

    This quick ramen is balanced with lean protein from the chicken and soft-boiled eggs, starches from the noodles, and a salty broth that makes you crave more!

    To bump this recipe up even more nutritionally, try doubling the carrot and spinach for extra vitamin power.

    ~ Check out the recipe here!

    2. 4-minute Salmon, Broccoli and Potatoes

      What is better than a perfectly balanced meal in just 4 minutes? I can’t think of anything!

      This wonderfully fatty fish blends so well with the super food broccoli and starch of the potatoes that you won’t believe it was done in such a short amount of time!

      Salmon is a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids (aka fish oil) that helps our heart, skin, joints, GI tract, and much more!

      ~ Check out the recipe here!

      3. Beef Gyros

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        A warm pita wrapped around freshly made gyros, toppings, and even Tzatziki sauce, oh my! This recipe goes from fridge to plate in under an hour with only 15 minutes of prep time!

        When creating the Tzatziki sauce, be sure to grab plain Greek Yogurt. This yogurt is naturally higher in protein, adding another nutritional benefit to this great dish! You can also opt for a whole wheat pita to add some extra fiber too!

        ~ Check out the recipe here!

        4. Shrimp Boil

          This recipe is perfect for summer beach nights, a classic shrimp boil recipe that you don’t have to spend all day preparing! This recipe is fun finger food to the max! It is delicious, satisfying and tastes the best when served on a picnic table.

          To take this recipe to the next level, adjust the proportions of veggies to protein. By increasing the corn and decreasing the amount of Andouille sausage, you can decrease the total sodium and calories while increasing the fiber and vitamins!

          ~ Check out the recipe here!

          5. Mexican Quinoa

            The perfect one pot meal with fiber, protein, and lots of flavor! This is a vegetarian and meat-lover dream!

            Quinoa is the perfect substitution for white rice in this classic recipe while complimenting the beans to create a protein filled dish. Plus the addition of all those vegetables creates a meal that is bursting with flavor. Top this Mexican quinoa with fresh avocado to perfectly round it out.

            ~ Check out the recipe here!

            6. Lo Mein

              This Lo Mein will stomp any greasy, take-out craving you have without the usual guilt! It is not very often, you can replace a sinful bowl of take-out with something so delicious and easy to make at home!

              Make this Lo Mein in less than 15 minutes from start to finish. That’s faster than it takes for the delivery person to show up at the door!

              ~ Check out the recipe here!

              7. Whole “Rotisserie” Chicken

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                Everyone knows that the secret to batch cooking is to have a whole chicken cooked to use in various ways throughout the week!

                This recipe makes the most perfectly moist rotisserie chicken that can be used as is, for tacos, for soup, and for sandwiches all week long!

                Tip: keep the bones and scraps to make an amazing chicken stock to have on hand! Cooking the stock longer and at a lower temperature will create a delicious bone broth rich in vitamins, minerals and proteins.

                ~ Check out the recipe here!

                8. Chicken and Lentil Soup

                  This is the coziest soup around! Rich in protein, fiber, and B vitamins, this soup will meet all your cravings!

                  It also couldn’t be easier for a rushed weekday meal, all you have to do is chop and let your power pressure cooker do the work!

                  In just 30 minutes, you will have a warming soup that the whole family can enjoy!

                  ~ Check out the recipe here!

                  9. Vegan Quinoa Burrito Bowls

                    Is there anyone out there that doesn’t enjoy a good burrito bowl? This veggie bowl is the perfect one-pot meal that is easily customizable!

                    From vegans to meat-lovers, everyone will enjoy this easy, fiber-rich bowl. Add whatever toppings you please to create a burrito bowl that is just as good as a restaurant’s!

                    ~ Check out the recipe here!

                    10. Rice and Beans

                      The classic rice and beans dish is a staple for many reasons. It is full of perfectly complimented proteins, great texture, and balanced seasonings. Now, you can create this filling balanced meal in under an hour! No more pre-soaking those beans!

                      This perfectly seasoned, filling balanced meal will have everyone fighting for another bowl!

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                      ~ Check out the recipe here!

                      11. Summer Quinoa Salad

                        Your fresh in-season berries were made for this quick salad!

                        Take this nutrient dense salad to a party or serve it as light, summer dinner to have everyone asking for the recipe!

                        The quinoa, fruit, vegetables, and nuts create a dish that is perfectly balanced with all the food groups. You can top this salad with cooked chicken breast or leave it as-is to meet everyone needs!

                        ~ Check out the recipe here!

                        12. Minestrone Soup

                          This Minestrone Soup is quick and veggie full making it perfect for any weeknight dinner! It is rich in Vitamin C, antioxidants, and Vitamin A making it the perfect dinner for the whole family!

                          Tip: Use whole grain noodles to increase the fiber and B vitamins of this tasty dish!

                          ~ Check out the recipe here!

                          13. Lemon Garlic Chicken

                            Make your protein and side dish at the same time with flavorful chicken that the whole family will love! In less than an hour, you can have a beautiful and balanced plate with veggies and protein.

                            This flavorful lemon garlic chicken will give you the protein and excitement to spice up any plate!

                            ~ Check out the recipe here!

                            14. Chicken Fajitas

                              Quick, easy and very few dirty dishes are used to create these fajitas that will rival even your favorite Mexican restaurant!

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                              Feel free to top these with whatever you wish but be sure to include fresh avocado for a bump-up in vitamins and minerals.

                              Tip: If you enjoy sour cream on your fajitas, opt for plain Greek yogurt that is higher in protein, lower in calories, and just as tasty!

                              ~ Check out the recipe here!

                              15. Coconut Chicken Curry

                                A big bowl of coconut chicken curry over rice is what dreams are made of! This bright, flavorful dish is full of vegetables and lean protein without the dryness!

                                What can usually take a few hours, create this colorful dish in just 30 minutes with your power pressure cooker!

                                ~ Check out the recipe here!

                                16. Cashew Chicken

                                  This take-out classic can be on your plate in just 20-minutes but you can pretend you took hours to create it when everyone asks for the recipe! You can double the green bell pepper to increase the veggies without sacrificing any flavor. Serve this classic over brown rice for extra fiber and minerals.

                                  ~ Check out the recipe here!

                                  17. Meatloaf

                                    Meatloaf has been a menu staple since sliced bread but never did it only take 20 minutes to make! This recipe includes the meatloaf and the sides to create a one-pot dream. Perfect to serve after long weekdays, this dish is a comforting staple.

                                    And don’t be fooled by the short cooking time, this meatloaf is the best of both worlds- it’s juicy and fast to make!

                                    ~ Check out the recipe here!

                                    Despite its apparent roots in the crockpot concept, power pressure cooker meals are apt to be much healthier. Without the need for fatty sauces to create flavor and prevent dryness, the power pressure cooker uses the heat generated by the water to cook the food. This leads to more flavor without dryness and overall leaner meals.

                                    The power pressure cooker is the answer for anyone striving for healthy, balanced meals with a crazy weeknight schedule.

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                                    It really can do it all. You won’t be disappointed and you’ll feel great after enjoying healthy, balanced meals while easily juggling all the activities you enjoy!

                                    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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