Is coffee good for weight loss?
Pros of coffee for weight loss
As you’re probably aware, coffee contains caffeine. It’s the caffeine that’s credited with most of the weight loss benefits.
For starters, caffeine stimulates your nervous system and causes small amounts of adrenaline to be produced by your body. This activity signals your system to start breaking down fat stores and sending it into your bloodstream which is a good thing for weight loss.
Secondly, caffeine speeds up your metabolism, by up to 11%. It’s the fat burning process which enables your body to utilise that extra fat you’ve got running around your bloodstream and convert it to energy. Thirdly, caffeine is known as an appetite suppressant. Lower appetite means less chance of over-eating, another bonus in the quest for weight loss.
Thanks to the nervous system kick-start and boosted metabolism, drinking a cup of coffee one hour before getting active could help you work out longer at a higher rate of intensity. Doing so would enable you to burn more calories before getting tired. It’s believed that caffeine can improve exercise performance by around 12%.
And if you’re still looking for reasons to keep enjoying your daily brew, coffee is packed with polyphenol compounds, which are antioxidants that fight free radicals and boost overall health.
Cons of coffee for weight loss
The key argument against coffee centres around the way you like to drink it, that is, what else you put in. Let’s start with a cup of black coffee – it contains less than 3 calories, so gets a big tick! But are you partial to a full cream flat white with two sugars, a caramel latte, or an iced coffee with whipped cream and chocolate on top? Loaded with sugar, honey, sweet flavourings, chocolate, cream and high fat milk – unfortunately these aren’t weight loss coffees!
If you’re opting for something other than straight black coffee, consider this: sugar adds 16 calories per teaspoon; skim milk adds 5 calories per tablespoon; full fat milk adds 9 calories per tablespoon. The message here is that the calories can quickly add up.
A second strike for coffee is that caffeine has been linked to both poor sleep and sugar cravings in some people. Both of which can lead to weight gain.
Another interesting detail about caffeine is that you can build up tolerance to it. Over time, the pros of coffee for weight loss can turn into negligible weight loss benefits. So it’s believed that coffee may only be beneficial for weight loss in the short term.
Tips – choosing the best weight loss coffee
- Black is the new black. Ditch the sugar, chocolate and cream. If you’re having more than one a day, reconsider full fat milk too. The desirable characteristics of coffee come from the pure brew with no additives. Laden it with calories and you’re undoing all that good work.
- Steer clear of artificial sweeteners. These have been shown to lead to poor appetite control and can damage gut lining. Aim to retrain your palate to enjoy less sweetness.
- Quality over quantity. Enjoy coffee by all means but stick to just one or two cups a day.
- Downsize. Save extra calories by downsizing from a large to a regular size. You just don’t need to drink something that equates to a large meal in calories. Try the smalls - a piccolo latte contains about 45 calories and a macchiato just 15 calories.
- Drink coffee before working out. Coffee has been proven to boost endurance and give short-term energy enhancement that can burn more calories in your workout.
- Don’t tolerate it. If you feel yourself building up tolerance, go cold turkey on coffee for a couple of weeks. Cycling in and out of coffee drinking may be the most effective way of ensuring you get the weight loss benefits.
- Don’t drink late. Drink coffee in the morning but not late in the day. It takes many hours for caffeine to be eliminated by the body so try not to have coffee after 2pm or it will impact your night’s sleep, which can in turn lead you to make poor food choices the next day.
- Know when to stop. If you’re feeling jittery, anxious, headachy, nauseous or your heart rate is racing, you’re drinking too much coffee so please cut back.
Can I get the same weight loss benefits with tea?
Perhaps. But there are a few variables which influence the caffeine content of the beverage. They apply to coffee as well as tea and include the type of processing, brewing time, temperature and cup size.
To give you a coffee versus tea comparison, a standard size cup of instant coffee contains 62mg of caffeine. The same size brewed coffee contains 96mg. Espresso coffee is more concentrated, containing 64mg per 30ml shot with many café options containing a double dose. A standard cup of black tea contains 47mg and a cup of green tea delivers 38mg of caffeine.
So, you love your coffee and can’t give it up but want to lose weight? No worries. We say you should enjoy a daily cup or two, it may even help your diet. Just keep coffee in moderation and try to follow our tips above to ensure it doesn’t sabotage your weight loss goals.