When it comes to weight loss, most people focus on the food they eat. After all, food is usually the most significant source of calories in your diet. To lose weight, they eliminate or cut down on certain foods and eat others in their place.
This helps create the calorie deficit or negative energy balance that forces your body to burn fat for fuel.
But, what about liquids and beverages; can they affect weight loss and weight gain?
If a drink contains calories, it can lead to increases in body fat and weight. For example, a small soda provides 120 calories or more, most of which come from sugar. Energy and sports drinks, as well as fruit juices, can be similarly calorific.
The good news is that plain water, diet soda, and plain tea and coffee are much lower in calories and may even be calorie-free. Staying properly hydrated can also enhance fat loss and help you control your appetite.
This raises the question, is coffee good for weight loss?
In simple terms, drinking coffee could help you lose weight, but it could also lead to weight gain. It all comes down to the type of coffee you drink and how your body deals with the caffeine normally found in coffee.
In this article, we explore the health benefits of drinking coffee and explain how to use it to help you lose weight rather than gain it.
Is Coffee Good for Weight Loss
What Is Coffee?
Coffee is one of the world’s most popular beverages. It’s consumed all around the world, although it’s often prepared differently from one country to the next.
Dark and rich coffee is made from coffee beans, which are the seeds of the Coffea Arabica plant.
Picked when they turn from green to red, the beans are roasted to varying degrees to give them their distinct flavor. For example, a dark roast is much stronger and richer than a mild roast.
Coffee beans are then ground and sold for brewing or freeze-dried to make instant coffee granules and powder. Most coffee is consumed hot, although there are also cold coffee drinks, such as frappes and canned coffees.
The most notable substance in coffee is caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant, and different roasts and preparation methods affect how much caffeine is in each serving. It’s caffeine that is thought to contribute to weight loss.
Coffee is also available without caffeine, i.e., decaffeinated. However, without the stimulatory effect of caffeine, decaffeinated coffee is not so beneficial for weight loss. However, decaf still provides some useful health benefits.
A cup of coffee with no sugar, cream, syrup, etc., contains about 2-5 calories. If you replace high-calorie beverages like fruit juice or sugary sports drinks with plain coffee, it could help you lose weight by contributing to your calorie deficit.
However, if you consume your coffee with lashings of sugar and cream, it could tip you over the edge into calorie surplus, resulting in weight gain.
Plain coffee, without milk, sugar, cream, etc., is very low in calories. In fact, it’s virtually calorie-free. That’s because minimal solids from the coffee bean make it into your cup. Brewing coffee simply “washes” the flavor of the bean into the water.
The nutritional values for an eight-ounce cup of brewed coffee are:
- 2.4 calories
- Protein 0.3 grams
- Carbohydrate 0 grams
- Fat 2.4 milligrams
- Caffeine 95 milligrams
In addition, caffeine contains the following micronutrients in small but valuable amounts:
- Vitamin K
- Pantothenic acid
The Benefits of Drinking Coffee
As well as being low in calories, coffee has several other useful benefits:
Increased Metabolic Rate
Caffeine is a natural stimulant that may increase your metabolism, which is the number of calories your body uses each day. While this effect is very small, it’s beneficial enough that most diet and weight loss supplements contain varying amounts of caffeine.
Drinking coffee may help prevent hunger by lowering levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin. Also, a large cup of coffee will help fill your stomach, which is another way to reduce hunger.
Improved Physical Performance
The caffeine in coffee can boost your energy and ward off fatigue. In fact, until the 1960s, caffeine was a banned substance in the Olympics. Caffeine also increases fat burning during exercise, which may contribute to weight loss.
Concentration and Focus
In optimal amounts, caffeine can enhance cognition and mental function. This is probably because it helps wake you up and makes you more alert. However, too much caffeine can make you anxious and unable to concentrate.
Protection From Mental Decline
Compounds in caffeine may protect from age-related cognitive degeneration, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. Studies suggest that regular coffee drinkers are 60% less likely to suffer from Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Lowered Risk of Depression
People who drink four or more cups of coffee a day are statistically less likely to suffer from depression. This may be because coffee provides protection against the free radicals that can affect brain health and function.
Reduced Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is characterized by an increase in insulin resistance and chronically elevated blood glucose. It’s a serious medical condition that can lead to several complications, including heart disease, nerve damage, and blindness. Drinking coffee can significantly lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Improved Liver Health
Drinking coffee may reduce your risk of fatty liver disease, hepatitis, and cirrhosis.
Protection Against Certain Cancers
Characterized by uncontrolled cellular growth, cancer is a leading cause of death. Coffee may provide protection against several cancers, including liver and colorectal cancer.
Reduced Risk of Heart Disease
Consumed in moderation, coffee may lower your risk of high blood pressure and coronary heart disease. It appears to reduce the accumulation of arterial plaque and helps maintains the elasticity of major blood vessels.
Good Source of Antioxidants
Coffee is loaded with antioxidants. Antioxidants are plant compounds that provide protection from unstable molecules called free radicals. Free radicals are linked to a host of illnesses and diseases, not least cancer and heart disease.
Drinking coffee could help you live longer. By reducing your risk of certain cancers, diabetes, heart disease, and cognitive decline, there is a 20% reduced risk of dying prematurely.
Contrary to popular opinion, drinking coffee will not cause dehydration. While coffee does have a diuretic effect, it’s not as strong as once believed. You may pee a little more after drinking coffee, but most of the fluid will remain in your body to contribute to hydration.
Studies strongly support the health and weight loss benefits of drinking coffee. However, before you start chugging it down by the gallon, consider these potential downsides, too:
Coffee Can Stop You From Sleeping
Caffeine is a stimulant that gives you energy and speeds up your metabolism but could also prevent you from sleeping. Lack of sleep can lead to loss of energy, increased hunger, and cravings for sugar and carbs. It can also interfere with weight loss.
Avoid these problems by having a “coffee curfew” of between 3-5pm, so your system will be free from the stimulatory effects of caffeine by the time you go to bed.
Some Coffee Pairings Can Be Fattening
If you drink your coffee with lots of sugar, flavored syrup, or cream, you could end up ingesting a lot of calories, leading to weight gain.
Some people always have a cookie with their coffee, adding to their caloric intake.
If you are drinking coffee for health or weight loss, black is best. If you must flavor your coffee, try something like vanilla extract or cinnamon, use skimmed milk instead of cream, and use a sugar-free sweetener, such as stevia. Make sure you skip the cookies too!
Some coffee drinks are very high in calories
Coffee coolers, coffee shakes, Frappuccino, caramel lattes, and other coffee-based beverages are very high in calories, often containing 400 or more. Needless to say, drinking these beverages more than occasionally will soon lead to weight gain.
Many people believe that coffee causes heart disease and high blood pressure, or is otherwise unhealthy. However, the opposite is true: coffee has the potential to be very good for you and could even help you lose weight.
Coffee comes from the fruit of the Coffea Arabica plant and contains lots of beneficial compounds, including vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It’s also very low in calories, and a typical cup of brewed coffee without milk or sugar contains less than five calories.
In addition, the caffeine in coffee is mentally and physically stimulating and can help boost your energy, concentration, and focus even though it’s all but calorie-free.
On the downside, consuming too much caffeine can leave you feeling anxious and jittery and could stop you from sleeping. However, such problems are easy to avoid by limiting yourself to 2-4 cups of coffee per day and not consuming it too close to bedtime.
You could also switch to decaffeinated coffee. While you won’t get the stimulatory effect, decaffeinated coffee still offers many health benefits.
Avoid consuming additional calories and negating the benefits of drinking coffee by sticking to plain coffee or only adding a little milk and calorie-free sweetener. Lashings of sugar and cream will undo many of the beneficial effects of coffee and could lead to weight gain rather than fat burning and weight loss.