Guide to Coffee and Weight Loss
Coffee is one of the most consumed beverages in the world. People brew coffee in a thousand different ways, from hundreds of varieties – they even take coffee in supplement form. With the huge popularity of coffee, and the research into caffeine and weight loss, there’s was bound to be the potential for a connection raised at some point – which is exactly what happened.
Research has given us a pretty clear look at how coffee works in the body, what benefits it provides, and what science claims coffee may help with – like weight loss?
Let’s take a look at the main types of coffee.
Types of Coffee – Arabica, Robusta, Green Coffee, Butter Coffee
Arabica: Arabica is the bigwig in coffee consumption today. Most coffee sold comes from the Arabica bean. Actual sales make up for about 60-75% of all coffee consumed in the world.
Robusta: Robusta coffee is a much stronger version that comes from a bitter bean. Robusta is typically used in espresso coffee versus the more traditional brewed Cup of Joe.
Green Coffee: Green coffee bean is an unroasted coffee bean. The bean contains high levels of chlorogenic acid, which is destroyed during the roasting process. That’s not to say that roasted coffee contains no chlorogenic acid, but it certainly doesn’t contain as much. (We’ll touch on the potential health benefits of chlorogenic acid when we look deeper into green coffee beans later.)
Butter Coffee: Butter coffee isn’t a strain of coffee, rather a preparation technique. The coffee recipe became all the rage when keto dieters started raving about the benefits of drinking your fat. Fat in the form of butter or ghee is added to coffee along with MCT oil, in most cases. You’ll find that butter coffee is also referred to as Bulletproof coffee. Bulletproof is actually a brand name – so butter coffee and Bulletproof coffee are not the same thing.
You can consume coffee as part of your personalized weight-loss plan from Noom. Coffee is just one of the drinks that science shows may help with overall health and that’s exactly what Noom is looking to promote – good health and weight loss. Try it for yourself today with the free trial offer.
Arabica Versus Robusta
When it comes to coffee and weight loss, should we focus more on arabica or robusta coffee? Based on the amount of research available, it appears that arabica coffee is the more popular of the two. (And based on the fact that more than 60% of the population drinks arabica coffee.)
One clear difference between arabica and robusta coffee is caffeine content. Robusta is typically used in espresso, so you’d assume the caffeine content would be higher in that strain – and you’d be right. Research shows that robusta coffee does, in fact, contain more caffeine than arabica. (Planta)
To touch briefly on the weight-loss debate, in a rat model robusta coffee was more effective than arabica ‘with respect to effects on lipid profile, adiponectin level, and hepatic gene expression.” Both arabica and robusta promoted weight loss. (Nutrients)
For the sake of our look into coffee and weight loss, we’ll touch on the most used, and most studied, variety of coffee – arabica.
What is Arabica?
The arabica bean was first found in history as far back as 1000 BC. A local tribe used to eat a local bean, crush it and mix it with ingredients like fat to create energy balls, if you will. The coffee was eaten for increased energy, just as it is today.
Arabica, from a coffee drinkers perspective, is considered the queen of coffee. It is mild, smooth, and slightly sweet. The drinkable nature of the coffee, and the fact that it’s not bitter like the robusta cousin, makes arabica even more popular, if possible.
Let’s take a closer look at how coffee is consumed and how coffee works to help with weight loss – if it does at all.
Arabica Coffee Beverages
There are a variety of beverages made with arabica coffee. These drinks are standard coffee, not the espresso versions you’d find a coffee shops. Not all espresso beans are arabica – as many are robusta. Here we’ll stick with the arabica bean.
Caffeinated Coffee: Caffeinated coffee is your traditional brew. Coffee beans are no more than 1.5% caffeine by weight – naturally. Any additional caffeine above and beyond this is added to the coffee during processing.
Half Caffeine: Half caffeine is a variety of arabica coffee that’s half caffeinated and half decaffeinated. This variety is typically used by people who want a morning boost, but who are sensitive to stimulants or who don’t drink a lot of caffeine.
Decaffeinated: Decaffeinated arabica contains the least amount of caffeine. No coffee is truly, 100% caffeine-free, but decaf varieties are the closest available.
Super Caffeinated: A new player in the coffee market is the super caffeinated variety. Typically super caffeinated coffees are a combination of robusta and arabica strains. The robusta adds that “high-caffeine” bitter taste, if you will.
Arabica Coffee Foods
Coffee can be consumed in ways other than that morning cup or the afternoon pick me up. From coffee jelly, to caffeinated meat rubs, you can find coffee everywhere. Probably the most direct route of consuming coffee foods is through espresso beans. The espresso beans, once roasted, are often covered in chocolate and sold in coffee shops for a quick sugar and caffeine pick-me-up.
Is it the Caffeine That Helps With Weight Loss?
So, what is it about arabica coffee that makes people think it will help with weight loss? First and foremost, it’s the caffeine content. The most caffeine a 10-ounce cup of coffee can have is about 425mg. That’s 1.5% caffeine by weight. Most home-brewed coffee contains fewer than 425mg of caffeine per cup, but coffee shop recipes often contain espresso that can boost caffeine content significantly.
Research on Coffee, Caffeine, and Weight Loss
If caffeine is at the heart of why coffee supposedly increases weight loss, or is there something in the coffee that works to your advantage?
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition released research in 1980 that showed metabolic rate increased in study participants who consumed caffeinated coffee increased. The total mg of caffeine delivered in the study was 4mg/kg of body weight. For the average 200-lb person, that’s 360mg of caffeine.
Consuming that much caffeine in one sitting can be detrimental to the health of some people, especially if there are heart or kidney issues present.
Caffeine may not be the sole reason people lose weight with coffee. A study in 2006 showed that even decaffeinated coffee works to decrease the risk of certain diseases. Studies over a period of four years were reviewed for the research, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
By 2017, there was enough research to complete a full-scale review to see just how coffee affects health. The research suggested, “Coffee consumption was more often associated with benefit than harm for a range of health outcomes across exposures including high versus low, any versus none, and one extra cup a day.” (the BMJ)
When the mannooligosaccharides (specific sugars) found in coffee are extracted men consuming the beverage were more likely to lose weight and reduce the amount of fat tissue than men who did not, and in this case, than women, according to Obesity Silver Spring.
With all of this support for coffee and weight loss, what is at the heart of the connection. Well, according to 2019 research, coffee attacks brown fat stores, which increases thermogenesis, or heat. The heat is what, in essence, burns fat. (Scientific Reports)
Finally, another study, this time into how caffeinated beverages can play a role in weight maintenance, found “Weight loss maintainers reported to consume significantly more cups of coffee and caffeinated beverages compared with the participants in the general population sample. Thus, consumption of caffeinated beverages might support weight loss maintenance,” as published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
There may be a ton of research into coffee and weight loss, but what if you don’t drink coffee? Can you eat right, drink lots of water, exercise, and reduce stress for weight loss in place of drinking coffee? Noom bets you can in less than 15 minutes a day. Get your free trial offer now!
What is Green Coffee?
Moving on to green coffee, what’s the difference between the unroasted bean and the roasted bean? First, green coffee is the unroasted bean. It is picked from the plant before it’s had time to ripen into the cherry color bean that’s harvested and roasted for brewing coffee. Basically, the beans are raw.
The raw nature of the green coffee bean keep strong antioxidants, called chlorogenic acids, intact. These antioxidants, and others like them, play a key role in overall health, wellness, and aging. Plus, they may have a part in weight and weight loss.
Green coffee beans are most often found in supplements, but you can also brew the beans and drink like traditional coffee. Take note, the beans have not been roasted, so the drink will not have the same taste as your roasted coffee. Some describe the taste as slightly green.
What Does Research Say About Green Coffee and Weight Loss?
You’ll have no trouble finding research that attempts to link green coffee and weight loss. Some research shows support and other studies aren’t as positive. There’s also the problem that the majority of studies have been completed on animals, which makes it hard to assume the same effects will occur in humans. Let’s take a look at some of the research on green coffee and weight loss.
Inhibitory effect of green coffee bean extract on fat accumulation and body weight gain in mice
The results of this study were promising, but as stated, the participants were mice, so the effects may not be the same in humans.
“We conclude that [green coffee bean extract] can suppress body weight gain and visceral fat accumulation in mice. Caffeine suppresses fat absorption, while chlorogenic acid and its related compounds are found to be involved in the enhancement of fat metabolism,” says BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies.
The Effect of Green-Coffee Extract Supplementation on Obesity
A review of trials showed some pretty good results from taking green coffee extract. Based on the results, users lost more weight with the extract than without it.
“The results of current meta-analysis study support the use of GCE supplementation for the improvement of obesity indices, with sub-group analysis highlighting greater improvements in individuals with a starting BMI ≥25 kg/m2.” (Phytomedicine)
Now, just because there is research out there that claims green coffee bean can promote weight loss, doesn’t mean all the research is created equal. According to a 2011 review of research, “more rigorous trials are needed to assess the usefulness of [green coffee extract] as a weight loss tool.” (Gastroenterology Research and Practice)
What is Chlorogenic Acid?
Chlorogenic acid is a phytochemical found in plants like the coffee bean. Typically a green coffee supplement will contain up to 300mg of the acid. There are higher doses available, but research has yet to establish whether or not taking more is safe or any more effective.
Research into chlorogenic acids abounds. Some of the possible health benefits, as shown in scientific studies, include:
- Decreased BP
- Increased Glycemic Control
- Enhances Mood
- Moderately effects weight
The studies into weight loss are the least convincing. There just haven’t been enough human, peer-reviewed studies of substance to determine whether the chlorogenic acid found in green coffee beans will actually help you lose weight.
Other Sources of Chlorogenic Acid
Believe it or not, green coffee, and roasted coffee to some extent, aren’t the only sources of chlorogenic acid. You can also find the phytochemicals in:
Does green coffee extract contain caffeine?
We know that green coffee contains more chlorogenic acid than roasted coffee, but is there any caffeine in the bean? It is estimated that green coffee contains about 20% of the total amount of caffeine in roasted coffee. That means if a cup of coffee has 100mg of caffeine, the green coffee derivative contains only 20mg of caffeine.
This may not seem like alot, but when you combine roasted coffee with green coffee in a supplement, if you will, the total amount of caffeine will be higher than that of the roasted coffee alone. Or, for that matter, when green coffee is added to a supplement with caffeine, it will boost the total caffeine amount though the user may not notice.
Decaffeinated Green Coffee Extract
If caffeine is at the heart of coffee and weight loss and green coffee contains very little caffeine, what part does decaffeinated green coffee play?
Though human studies haven’t yet been completed, with strong results, mouse studies have shown that consuming decaffeinated green coffee extract does help regulate diet-induced obesity. The results happened on a genetic level, which doesn’t bode will for replication in humans. While genetics are similar between the two species, there are enough differences to cause issues with assuming the same results in humans, based on research shared in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
Green Coffee Beverages
Green coffee is available as a supplement, which is how it is most often consumed. However, there are green coffee drinks you can make at home and even some you can purchase at major coffee retailers.
While the green coffee beverage market is still in its infancy, there are some companies out there aiming to set the market with brewed, unroasted coffee. The claim is that it is packed with all the chlorogenic acid you could want, but some retailers go a step further.
One company claims that the green coffee beverage they sell contains the same amount of caffeine as a large, cold-brew coffee. If green coffee only contains about 20% of the caffeine of traditional coffee, that means extract caffeine was added to the drink to pump up the effects. Instead of paying a premium price, you could drink regular coffee and take a green coffee bean supplement – which we’ll look at in just a few moments.
Believe it or not, even Starbucks, one of the major players in coffee, offers a green coffee extract in some locations. The company claims the caffeine level in a Venti (large) size is up to 85mg. That’s still slightly more than then 20% of traditional coffee, so caffeine may have been added.
Green Coffee Bean Supplements
What is there to say about green coffee bean supplements? Based on research, there are a few benefits that may be worth taking a closer look with future human study. Of the benefits some science has shown associated with green coffee include:
- Decreased BP
- Decreased fat mass
- Decreased heart rate
- Improve cardio protection
- Decreased weight (though research is incomplete, poor quality, and rife with conflicts)
Research has shown green coffee bean extract has no effects on :
- Creatinine levels
- Liver enzymes
- White blood cell count
What is Butter Coffee?
Butter coffee is a mixture of butter or ghee with traditional coffee. There are supplements out there, from major keto brands, that offer to make the process of creating your butter coffee easier – add some powder and go.
How to Make Butter Coffee?
The recipe for butter coffee tends to vary slightly, but the basic premise is to melt butter and mix into coffee with MCT oil, in some cases. MCT is the abbreviation for medium-chain triglycerides. MCTs come with potential health benefits, but that’s for a different time.
Butter Coffee Supplements
Butter coffee supplements tend to come in packages that claim to be keto coffee – though other versions are available. You may find names like superfood coffee, superfat coffee, coffee boost, or Bulletproof coffee. Bulletproof is the name of a company that pretty much made butter coffee a household name in the keto world.
Research on Butter Coffee
After a detailed, lengthy search of peer-reviewed studies and repositories of medical studies, we weren’t able to find any research into the effects of butter coffee on weight or overall health. If you base the concept of butter coffee on the keto diet, where it became hugely popular, you can see that adding butter to the coffee increases fat intake – a huge part of the keto diet. It can be hard to reach 75% of calories from fat and butter makes it all the easier.
Despite the fact that there is no research into butter coffee, there is some older research into the effect of butter on weight loss. Based on the study, vegetable-based fats were more effective at promoting weight loss than were animal-based fats. Butter is an animal-based fat.
Final Take on Coffee and Weight Loss
There is a connection between coffee and weight loss, in all forms. The connection may not necessarily be strong enough to cause an effect you actually see on the scale, but from a clinical perspective you could lose more weight with arabica coffee, green coffee, and butter coffee, but only in the right situations.
When you want to lose weight, the process can be difficult and turning to quick fixes like drinking more coffee and taking more caffeine may seem like an easy bet. Lifestyle changes are at the heart of the Noom app because clinical research into weight loss, eating right, and the psychology of weight loss all show that lifestyle changes work – period. In less than 10 minutes a day, you can change how you live, how you eat, how you see yourself, and how successful you’ll be. All with Noom’s free trial offer.
Summer Banks has researched over 5000 weight-loss programs, pills, shakes and diet plans. Previously, she managed 15 supplement brands, worked with professionals in the weight loss industry and completed coursework in nutrition at Stanford University.