It can be argued that there's no better thing in this world than a morning cup of coffee, or three, to help you ease yourself into the day ahead. While there's been lots of talk about the benefits of coffee in reducing the risk of cancer and cardiovascular diseases, one area that's been debated over time is whether or not coffee can help you lose weight.
Rebecca Lee, a registered nurse and and founder of the natural health resource RemediesForMe.com, said that it can. "Caffeine (which is found in coffee) is the active ingredient in many over-the-counter diet pills and supplements," Lee said. "It boosts the metabolism so you burn more calories."
Paul Salter, Bodybuilding.com nutrition editor and the founder of Fit in Your Dress, shared that regular coffee consumption can help people manage their appetite. "Research has drawn mixed results regarding the specific impact caffeine has on appetite, but fortunately, the hunger-fighting benefits extend beyond caffeine, so decaf drinkers can benefit, too," Salter said. "Coffee beans also contain chlorogenic compounds, which are compounds that exert antioxidant-like effects in the body. It's thought that the combination of caffeine and chlorogenic compounds found in the coffee bean have a positive impact on appetite hormones, specifically leptin, ghrelin, and peptide YY."
Dr. M Daniela Torchia, MPH, RD, PhD, pointed out that caffeine can indirectly help suppress appetite, but too much can make you lose your sensitivity for sweets and may increase blood glucose as a result of your own insulin not working as it should.
"There is a balance needed," Dr. Torchia said. "Stimulation can help increase energy, keep you alert, and get rid of some hunger, but keep in mind the threshold you have."
The way coffee is consumed matters, too. Dr. Torchia added that putting a bunch of sugar, creams, hydrogenated fats, whipped creams, and corn syrup into the coffee will not help in reducing weight and will reduce or cancel out the positive effects of the moderate caffeine intake.
Dr. Pat Salber, MD and founder/CEO of The Doctor Weighs In, said that while dieters might be interested in upping their coffee intake, they should pay attention to the side effects of drinking too much of it at once.
"It's important to weigh these relatively modest benefits for weight loss with the significant side effects of ingesting excessive amounts of coffee that include jitteriness, nervousness, fast heart rate, nausea, anxiety, and insomnia," Dr. Salber said. "Some of these side effects may actually counter whatever benefit you might get from coffee." For example, Dr. Salber mentioned that lack of sleep, caused by too much caffeine, may increase appetite and make you gain weight.
"So, as boring as it is, there are no shortcuts when it comes to losing weight and keeping it off," Salber said. "Eat less than you need, and burn more than you take in."