Is Black Coffee Effective for Weight Loss?

If you’re like most people, you probably start your day with a nice cup of coffee. Some people prefer coffee with milk and a little bit of sugar, others don’t add sugar and prefer black. There are tons of ways to drink coffee, but black coffee is considered the most powerful choice health-wise. While coffee has been demonized, the truth is that it does have numerous health benefits. Is weight loss one of them? Read on to see if black coffee is effective for weight loss.

Can black coffee support weight loss?

Black coffee is dubbed effective for weight loss, but is it just a claim or truth? Current evidence shows coffee can, indeed, promote weight loss. A study from the Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition found for every doubling in the intake of caffeine led to a decrease in weight, BMI, and fat mass by 22%, 17%, and 28% respectively. Scientists concluded caffeine intake may help a person slim down (1).

The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition published an interesting study that confirmed coffee can promote weight loss maintenance. The study included 494 weight loss maintainers and 2129 persons from the general population.

Weight loss maintainers consumed a lot more cups of coffee and caffeinated beverages than their counterparts from the other group. This finding led scientists to conclude that coffee consumption may support weight loss maintenance, but they also emphasized the importance of further studies to uncover all mechanisms of action (2).

As seen above, the consumption of coffee can indeed help you lose weight. More research is necessary to learn more about this subject. However, if you have ever wondered why many weight-loss products contain caffeine now you know why – because it can be helpful.

Coffee prevents weight regain

For many people weight loss is short-term and they end up gaining even more weight. One study found coffee could, actually, prevent weight gain after a calorie-shifting diet (CSD) that induced weight loss. The study included 60 female subjects with BMI≥ 25.

The subjects completed four weeks of a control diet and six weeks of calorie-shifting diet alongside a follow-up diet with or without caffeine treatment. Also, the first 11 days of each study phase involved calorie restriction. During the first four weeks of CSD and CSD + caffeine, the subjects experienced significant fat and weight loss. These effects were consistent for one month of the follow-up.

Results also showed the specific diet treatment (CSD or CSD + caffeine) significantly reduced total cholesterol levels, triglycerides, and blood glucose production. Drinking coffee increased the effect of a calorie-shifting diet on the subject’s satisfaction and feeling of hunger after week 7.

Scientists explain caffeine treatment during and after the CSD regimen led to a constant weight loss and prevented the decline in resting metabolic rate. This allowed the subjects to retain their results and avoid weight regain (3).

A study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition had similar findings too. This particular study followed 18 417 men and 39 740 women with no chronic diseases from 1986 to 1998. Every two to four years their caffeine intake was assessed.

Results showed those who increased caffeine intake had lower mean weight gain compared to those who decreased consumption of coffee. In other words, you may be less likely to regain your weight if you are drinking black coffee (4).

Coffee contains stimulants

Drinking black coffee can support weight loss, but the question is how it works. Well, coffee contains stimulants that could be behind its contribution to your weight loss, to some extent. The main stimulant in coffee is caffeine, but there are also a few substances such as theobromine, theophylline, and an element called chlorogenic acid.

As you can already presume, the most important stimulant in coffee is caffeine, a commonly consumed psychoactive substance, and it can act on your metabolism. Caffeine functions by blocking adenosine, an inhibitory neurotransmitter (5). As a result, caffeine propels the release of neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine and dopamine. These neurotransmitters may feel more alert and energized. After all, coffee improves brain function too by keeping your nerves active.

The surge of energy keeps you motivated to work out and do your best in the gym. When you’re energetic, your stamina and endurance improve alongside athletic performance. In turn, you burn fat and more calories through physical activity.

Coffee speeds up metabolism

Most men and women struggle with slow metabolism means they hold onto calories instead of burning them. When metabolic activity is slow, you burn a lot fewer calories than you consume. To lose weight you need to burn calories in greater amounts than you eat through dieting.

In order to slim down, most people look for different ways to increase metabolism. Black coffee could be helpful here. Evidence confirms caffeine can increase resting metabolic rate by 3% to 11%. The effects are dose-dependent meaning the bigger the consumption, the faster is metabolism (67).

When we’re discussing this subject, it’s useful to mention the effects are more pronounced in persons who are not obese. A study from the American Journal of Physiology found caffeine increased fat loss by 29% in lean subjects, but only 10% in obese participants (8).

Coffee helps the body break down fat

Remember the previous section about stimulants in coffee? Well, they stimulate the nervous system which emits direct signals to the fat cells telling them to break down the fat (9). Coffee can achieve this effect by increasing the levels of epinephrine or adrenaline. This specific hormone travels through the blood and reaches fat tissues. There, adrenaline signals those tissues to break down fats. Once broken down, the fats are released into the bloodstream.

Keep in mind one thing – the release of fatty acids into your blood does not automatically produce fat loss. That happens only if you burn more calories than you consume. This specific state is known as negative energy balance, which you can achieve by exercising more or eating less. Many people also take caffeine-containing fat-burning supplements.

In other words, black coffee could help your body break down fat more effectively. But to complete this process you need to modify your diet and exercise more. You shouldn’t rely on your habit to drink black coffee daily only to do all the work.

Black coffee is low in calories

Weight loss results from burning more calories than you consume, we’ve already established that. That’s precisely why you need to be careful about the foods and beverages you consume.

Black coffee gives you plenty of energy and speeds up metabolism, but its benefits for weight loss don’t end there. You see, black coffee is low in calories.

For example, an 8oz (237ml) cup of black coffee contains two calories only. Iced black coffee has the same amount of calories, too. Below, you can take a look at other types of coffee and the calorie count they deliver per a single cup of 8oz (10):

  • Cold press (nitro cold brew) – 2
  • Black coffee brewed from flavored ground beans – 2
  • Espresso – 20
  • Nonfat latte – 72
  • Nonfat cappuccino – 46
  • Flavored latte – 134

When we say black coffee is low in calories, we mean just that – plain black coffee, even from decaffeinated beans. The more extras you add to it, the more calories your cup of coffee is going to contain. One teaspoon (4g) of sugar adds 16 calories to your coffee while two tablespoons (30ml) of heavy whipping cream contains 101 calories. Additionally, two tablespoons of half-and-half will add 37 calories to your black coffee while the same amount of fat-free milk will add 10 calories (11).

Since losing weight requires a calorie deficit, black coffee can help you make it happen, unlike chocolate syrup. Having three cups of black coffee would deliver six calories over the day. That means your coffee will not add to the calorie burden unless you add milk or other extras to it. In addition to low calories, you’ll have higher energy levels that will help you do more during your workout session.

Coffee helps control appetite

Appetite control is vital for weight loss but also acts as a common pitfall for many men and women. It’s not uncommon for people to eat too much during their meals or to feel hungry right after eating. Inability to control appetite leads to excessive intake of calories. As a result, you may struggle to slim down or gain weight.

Black coffee may help control appetite and thereby prevent you from consuming too many calories.

Various factors influence appetite. These include food you eat, hormones, and levels of physical activity. Caffeine may decrease ghrelin levels. Ghrelin is a hormone that suppresses hunger.

One small study found the subjects who drank coffee for four weeks experienced an increase in the feeling of fullness. They reduced food intake as well (12). In other words, black coffee acted on their hunger hormones, suppressed their hunger, and helped them feel full for longer. When you’re in this state, you don’t overeat, reach for unhealthy snacks, and consume a lot more food than your body actually needs. Plus, coffee can be useful for hunger pangs.

How much weight can you lose by drinking black coffee?

The exact number of pounds you can lose by drinking black coffee is not the same for everyone. Remember, every person has a different metabolic rate. Other factors are also involved such as your diet and physical activity levels. However, one to three cups could increase your metabolism to lose 150 calories a day. That’s about 4500 calories a month or about 2lbs.

Can black coffee burn belly fat?

Since black coffee accelerates metabolic rate, it increases fat burning. While target fat burning isn’t a reality, it can burn belly fat, because that’s where your fat is usually most concentrated and quite stubborn. Some people combine black coffee with lemon juice to lose fat in the abdominal area.

What is the best time to drink black coffee for weight loss?

It is useful to consume black coffee in the morning in order to reduce your appetite. Since coffee contains chlorogenic acid, which promotes weight loss, it’s useful to drink it after supper or dinner. That way, coffee slows down glucose production in the body and decreases the production of new fat cells.

What’s the difference between espresso and black coffee?

Espresso and black coffee are oftentimes used as interchangeable terms, but they’re not the same. Generally speaking, espresso is a coffee brewing method where steam is pressurized when going through coffee grounds. Since this method makes more concentrated coffee, it is served in smaller doses. On the other hand, black coffee is just a coffee without milk or cream. Most people don’t add sugar to it, either.

How much caffeine is in black coffee?

Caffeine content varies depending on the amount of coffee you drink. For example, 8oz (237ml) of brewed coffee contains 96mg of caffeine. At the same time, 1oz (30ml) of espresso delivers 64mg of caffeine. An 8oz cup of instant coffee contains 62mg of caffeine. Factors like brewing and processing can affect the levels of caffeine (13).

When it comes to black coffee, regular “kind” is not concentrated as espresso meaning each ounce contains lower in active compounds such as caffeine. An 8oz cup of black coffee may contain between 65 mg to 120mg of caffeine or the above mentioned 96 mg on average. That being said, not every brewing method is the same and the caffeine content may vary from coffee bean to coffee bean (14). Bear in mind decaffeinated coffee may also contain caffeine but in lower amounts.

How much coffee is safe to drink?

Almost everyone loves coffee, but how much is too much? For healthy adults 400mg of caffeine a day is safe, according to the FDA (15). That’s about four or five cups of coffee. In a nutshell, 400mg caffeine is an amount that isn’t associated with side effects and potentially dangerous complications.

That being said, some people may be too sensitive and can’t stomach coffee. They should consume less than 400mg of caffeine a day. Some health conditions can make a person more sensitive to the effects of caffeine. Some medications can do the same.

What happens if I consume too much caffeine?

Excessive intake of caffeine can induce side effects such as:

  • Jitters
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Upset stomach
  • Fast heart rate
  • Nausea
  • High blood pressure and cardiovascular health problems
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent urination

Heavy coffee consumption can lead to health problems such as cardiovascular diseases, liver disease. On the other hand, regular consumption of coffee could help persons with fatty liver disease by acting on harmful liver enzymes. What’s more, coffee can lower the risk of rectal cancer, liver cancer, and alcoholic cirrhosis. Also, the United States Department of Health reports regular intake of coffee may protect cardiovascular health. In other words, only improper intake is the problem. To avoid the negative effects of coffee you may not want to drink it on an empty stomach.

When it comes to frequent urination and other digestive effects, it’s useful to keep in mind coffee is a diuretic beverage. Also, frequent urination helps get rid of toxins that may otherwise affect your weight loss.

You still need to be careful

Sure, studies show black coffee may promote the weight loss process and help you keep it off. But you shouldn’t observe coffee as a miracle and drink too much. Remember, drinking too much coffee, although a good drink, may induce various side effects and complications.

When using black coffee for weight loss journey you need to be careful because in some cases it may harm your efforts.

How?

Black coffee is fine, but if you reach for coffee drinks you may end up increasing your calorie intake. The same would happen if you decide to add extras.

At the same time, coffee can affect your sleeping routine. Getting enough good night’s rest is important for your body functions, energy levels, and motivation all of which are necessary for weight loss. Inadequate sleep may also enhance feelings of hunger and make you overeat.

One way to avoid this problem is to avoid drinking too much black coffee. The benefits of coffee may motivate you to rely on this beverage only, but as demonstrated through this post that won’t work. You still need to eat a healthy diet and exercise. So, combine a healthy lifestyle with black coffee and you won’t need to drink excessive amounts.

Other ways to support your weight loss

Relying on coffee only is not the best approach. Instead, make black coffee a part of your overall healthy lifestyle. Other simple ways to support your weight loss include:

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Avoid sugar-laden store-bought fruit juices
  • Exercise more
  • Get enough sleep
  • Manage stress
  • Eat protein with every meal
  • Don’t spend too much time sitting
  • Drink green tea

Conclusion

Studies show black coffee can promote weight loss. Several mechanisms of action could be behind this effect including stimulants, faster metabolism, and better appetite control. Black coffee can also prevent weight regain and contribute to weight maintenance. However, these effects only apply to black coffee without adding extras, which would increase its calorie content. It’s useful to remember black coffee is not a replacement for regular exercise and a well-balanced diet.

References:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30335479/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26554757/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4157047/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16522916/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4115368/
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2912010/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7486839/
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7485480/
  9. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10068-010-0151-6
  10. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/coffee-calories#calories-by-drink
  11. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/expert-answers/calories/faq-20058100
  12. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0963996914003378
  13. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/caffeine/art-20049372
  14. https://coffeebros.com/blog/how-much-caffeine-is-in-espresso-and-coffee-hint-its-not-what-you-think/
  15. https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/spilling-beans-how-much-caffeine-too-much
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