Caffeine And Weight Loss
Caffeine and weight loss research
Caffeine containing weight loss supplements are widely marketed by nutritional companies who are keen to promote them on the basis of caffeine’s fat burning/metabolising properties.
Research in animals has been fairly positive benefits about the benefits of caffeine consumption on weight loss (Zheng et al., 2004; Han et al., 1999;). Research in humans also suggests that the consumption of caffeine may have a modestly effect positive weight loss (Jeukendrup and Randell, 2011;Lopez-Garcia et al., 2006; Boozer et al., 2002). A long term 12-year study looking at the relationship between bodyweight and changes in caffeine consumption found that increases in caffeine intake was associated with reduced levels of weight gain (Lopez-Garcia et al., 2006). Short term studies looking at the combined effects of ephedrine and caffeine have generally demonstrated modest reductions in bodyweight (Boozer et al., 2002; Toubro et al., 1993; Astrup et al., 1992;). However, these studies looked at the combined effects of caffeine and ephedrine which appear to work synergistically together and caffeine appears to be less effective as an individual weight loss supplement in obese individuals (Astrup et al., 1992).
Research is not fully supportive of the role of caffeine for short and long term weight loss although there is evidence that it has a modest effect and dietary caffeine intake ( from tea, coffee, green tea etc) may have positive effects on weight gain in non-obese individuals. Caffeine’s modest effect on weight loss may be due to a number of factors including: 1) Increased rates of thermogenesis; 2) Enhanced fat metabolism and lipolysis; 3) Appetite suppressing effect.
Caffeine and increased thermogenesis
There is some evidence that caffeine may exert a modest effect on weight loss through a thermogenic effect (~10% increase in energy expenditure) – thermogenesis is the production of heat in the human body. Caffeine’s thermogenic effect may occur after the ingestion of a variety of different caffeine sources (caffeine anhydrous, instant coffee, and ground coffee, green tea etc) which may lead to increased rates of daily energy expenditure (Riedel et al., 2012; Rudelle et al., 2007; Astrup et al., 1990; Duloo et al., 1989; Jung et al., 1981; Hollands and Cawthorne, 1981). Researcher suggests that caffeine increases energy expenditure by ~10% and the consumption of 6 x 100mg of caffeine every resulted in an increase of around 150Kcal/day (Dulloo et al 1989).
Caffeine, fat metabolism and lipolysis
one area in which caffeine is promoted for weight loss is increased rates of fat metabolism and lipolysis - the breakdown of lipids into free fatty acids. A number of research studies have suggested that caffeine may increase rates of fat metabolism lipolysis (Sugiura et al., 2012; Jeukendrup and Randell, 2011; Ryu et al., 2001; Jung et al., 1981; Acheson et al., 1980; Costil et al., 1978;)
Caffeine and appetite suppression
there is some evidence that caffeine may have an appetite suppressing (Carter and Drewnowski, 2012; Jessen et al., 2005; Westerterp-Plantenga et al., 2005; Zheng et al., 2004;) although it is not clear whether this is significant enough to enhance weight loss.
Caffeine and weight loss summary
Caffeine appears to have a modest benefit for weight loss, may reduce rates of weight gain, and increase thermogenesis and daily energy expenditure by up to ~100 calories. Caffeine appears to have a positive effect on fat metabolism and lipolysis and may also have an appetite suppressive effect.
How much caffeine for weight loss?
Research is not fully clear on the benefits of caffeine but it does appear to have a modest effect on weight loss. Most of the research has involved fairly high doses of caffeine 200-600mg/day normally split into divided doses (e.g. 6 x 100mg/daily). However it should be noted that the long term use of such levels of caffeine in supplement form could be detrimental to health particularly in view of the way it stimulates the central nervous system. Consuming adequate caffeine through caffeine containing drinks like tea, coffee, and green tea is a safer approach and has been linked to reduced long term weight gain. Below are the typical amounts of caffeine in popular drinks:
Instant coffee (1 cup ~ 8fl oz) = ~ 80-100mg
Espresso coffee (1shot ~ 1.5fl oz) = ~ 75mg (equivalent to ~400mg in an 8oz cup)
Tea (1 cup ~ 8floz) = ~50-75mg
Green Tea (1 cup ~ 8floz) = ~24-40mg
Caffeine and weight loss references
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