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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

Caffeine and weight lossThere 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 in coffee and weight lossCaffeine 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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Astrup A, Toubro S, Cannon S, Hein P, Breum L, Madsen J. Caffeine: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of its thermogenic, metabolic, and cardiovascular effects in healthy volunteers. Am J Clin Nutr 1990;51:759–67.

Astrup A, Breum L, Toubro S, Hein P, Quaade F. (1992) The effect and safety of an ephedrine/caffeine compound compared to ephedrine, caffeine and placebo in obese subjects on an energy restricted diet. A double blind trial. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1992 Apr;16(4):269-77.

Boozer CN, Daly PA, Homel P, Solomon JL, Blanchard D, Nasser JA, Strauss R, Meredith T. (2002) Herbal ephedra/caffeine for weight loss: a 6-month randomized safety and efficacy trial. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2002 May;26(5):593-604.

Carter BE, Drewnowski A. (2012) Beverages containing soluble fiber, caffeine, and green tea catechins suppress hunger and lead to less energy consumption at the next meal. Appetite. 2012 Dec;59(3):755-61. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2012.08.015. Epub 2012 Aug 23.

Costill DL, Dalsky GP, Fink WJ. Effects of caffeine ingestion on metabolism and exercise performance. Med Sci Sports 1978;10:155–8.

Dulloo A, Geissler C, Horton T, Miller D. Normal cafeine consumption: influence on thermogenesis and daily energy expenditure in lean and postobese human volunteers. Am J Clin Nutr 1989;49:44–50.

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Hollands M, Cawthorne MA. A simple apparatus for comparative measurements of energy expenditure in human subjects: the thermic effect of caffeine. Am J Clin Nutr 1981;34:2291–4.

Jessen A, Buemann B, Toubro S, Skovgaard IM, Astrup A. (2005) The appetite-suppressant effect of nicotine is enhanced by caffeine. Diabetes Obes Metab. 2005 Jul;7(4):327-33.

Jung RT, Shetty PS, James WP, Barrand MA, Callingham BA. (1981) Caffeine: its effect on catecholamines and metabolism in lean and obese humans. Clin Sci (Lond). 1981 May;60(5):527-35.

Lopez-Garcia E, van Dam RM, Rajpathak S, Willett WC, Manson JE, Hu FB. Changes in caffeine intake and long-term weight change in men and women. Am J Clin Nutr 2006;83:674–80.

Riedel A, Pignitter M, Hochkogler CM, Rohm B, Walker J, Bytof G, Lantz I, Somoza V. (2012) Caffeine dose-dependently induces thermogenesis but restores ATP in HepG2 cells in culture. Food Funct. 2012 Sep;3(9):955-64. doi: 10.1039/c2fo30053b. Epub 2012 Jun 19.

Rudelle S, Ferruzzi MG, Cristiani I, Moulin J, Macé K, Acheson KJ, Tappy L. (2007) Effect of a thermogenic beverage on 24-hour energy metabolism in humans. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2007 Feb;15(2):349-55.

Ryu S, Choi SK, Joung SS, Suh H, Cha YS, Lee S, Lim K. Caffeine as a lipolytic food component increases endurance performance in rats and athletes. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo) 2001;47:139–46.

Sugiura C, Nishimatsu S, Moriyama T, Ozasa S, Kawada T, Sayama K. (2012) Catechins and Caffeine Inhibit Fat Accumulation in Mice through the Improvement of Hepatic Lipid Metabolism. J Obes. 2012;2012:520510. doi: 10.1155/2012/520510. Epub 2012 Apr 19.

Toubro S, Astrup A, Breum L, Quaade F. (1993) The acute and chronic effects of ephedrine/caffeine mixtures on energy expenditure and glucose metabolism in humans. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1993 Dec;17 Suppl 3:S73-7; discussion S82.

Westerterp-Plantenga MS, Lejeune MPGM, Kovacs EMR. Body weight loss and weight maintenance in relation to habitual caffeine intake and green tea supplementation. Obes Res 2005;13:1195–204.

Zheng G, Sayam K, Okubo T, Juneja LR, Oguni I. Anti-obesity effects of three major components of green tea, catechins, caffeine and theanine, in mice. In Vivo 2004;18:55–62.