Does Coffee Help You Lose Weight?

Spring and thus Summer are fast approaching once again. With that, the age-old question of “Does coffee help you lose weight?” is raising its head.

Holiday’s are being booked and beach trips are starting to be planned. The “weight loss tool box” has been dusted off to try and make things a little easier.

In this box, a place is reserved for our good friend coffee. Bordering on near magical qualities, it does many weird and wonderful things.

The short answer is yes – coffee can help with dropping fat. But there is more to this than meets the eye. Read on to find out the whole story.

From Weight Gain to Weight Loss

For the last four months I have been bulking (eating at a calorie surplus). This was in a bid to gain weight with hopefully a portion of it coming from muscle mass.

During this time I went from 93kg to 99kg, a total of 6 kg gained. I may have overshot the mark slightly but it’s nothing to worry about. This just means I will have to work harder to get down to my goal weight of 90kg.

As you may have guessed it is now time to lose some of that weight again (known as a cut). Ideally I hope to lose mainly fat while retaining most of the muscle gained throughout the last bulk.

Coffee will no doubt play a small role in this process. It is a role nonetheless and deserving of it’s own post.

What’s so Special About Coffee?

Coffee has been used by humans for over a thousand years. Legend says it was discovered in Ethiopia by a goat herder.

The man observed his goats behaving energetically after eating the berries from a Coffea arabica tree. And thus millions of tired workers all over the world were saved!

Anyone who has tried coffee before can attest to its cognitive enhancing effects. It can boost alertness and improve reaction times. This has made it best friend to students everywhere.

It’s also best friend to many seeking weight loss…

How Does it Help With Fat Loss?

Coffee has been shown to boost our Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). This is the rate at which your body burns calories at rest.

One study showed coffee increased energy expenditure by 8-11{3711378c469cb0b0f2923e21da067e748d3928633920f885cee3cbec769ee698} over a 12 hour day period. The effects were less noticeable in obese participants.

This energy expenditure amounted to 150kcals in lean individuals and 79kcals in obese individuals . It may not seem like a lot but small increments like this do add up

Caffeine is the main effect inducing ingredient in coffee. As a stimulant it acts on the nervous system. Caffeine causes cause the release of hormones such as Epinephrine (Adrenaline) and Cortisol.

These hormones can cause the breakdown of fat tissues. In doing so they allow for fatty acids to be mobilized and used as a source of energy.

Caffeine can increase alertness and give the feeling of having more energy. As a result it can allow for more exercise to be done. It can also cause an increase in Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT).

This is basically movement not intended as exercise. Things like fidgeting and hand movements fall into this bracket.

More movement = more calories burned = potential for weight loss.

Coffee is also an effective appetite suppressant. This has made it useful for those who practice intermittent fasting (IF).

When I do IF, a cup of black coffee allows me to prolong my first meal until after 12pm. Eating less will directly aid fat loss.

There should be a distinction made between a 0 calorie black coffee and your favorite sugar-laden Starbucks venti caramel Frappuccino. It’s best to avoid the latter if you’re serious about losing fat.

And no – heaping a load of butter in your morning coffee will not help you lose fat.

does coffee help you lose weight

What’s the Catch?

When you asked “Does coffee help you lose weight?” you didn’t expect a simple answer – did you?

Well there is a reason it’s the most popular psychoactive substance in the world. It’s also the richest source of antioxidants in the western diet.

As with a lot of things, the effects of coffee can not go on forever unfaltered. Tolerance build up will be a reality if you are a daily user.

A lot of the “fat burning” effects will be diminished over time. So in that department it isn’t the “magic potion” you were looking for.

To retain these effects, it would be best to cycle use. For example, two weeks on and two weeks off.

Interestingly, it seems the appetite suppressing effects remain fairly constant over time. This is probably your best bet when it comes to using coffee as a tool for fat loss.

Having a few cups a day can be used tactically in-between meals for example. This can help you maintain structure in your eating habits.

The problem is when people abuse caffeine. Instead of using it as dietary aid, people try and make it into their diet itself. Issues arise when you try to use caffeine to cover up bad mistakes.

How not to use caffeine: gorge on junk food, run out of calories then try to use caffeine to “tide you over” for the rest of the day. STOP.

This creates destructive eating habits and encourages binge eating. Becoming reliant of caffeine can create another plethora of problems.

As we mentioned before, caffeine causes the release of adrenaline and cortisol. These “stress hormones” are fine in moderation as they are vital for normal functioning.

In abundance however these hormones can lead to, you guessed it – chronic stress.

Raised stress levels can result in being in a prolonged catabolic state. This can result in losing those hard earned “gainz”.

Your immune system can also be affected negatively. A weakened immune system will increase your susceptibility to becoming ill.

Too much caffeine will interfere with sleep which also plays a role in fat loss. A meta analysis found a dose-effect relationship between sleep and obesity. For each additional hour of sleep, BMI decreased by 0.35 kg/m2.   

Now that’s not an excuse to sleep ten hours a day every day. But you should try and get between 7-9 hours a night.

Sleep is a total body rejuvenation experience. Getting sufficient sleep will reduce sugar cravings and improve dietary adherence. 

To get the best of both worlds – limit your caffeine intake to before dinner time (4pm at the latest). This will allow you to get to bed on time feeling tired.

Become Independent

Excessive caffeine use can create dependence. You should never have to rely on a stimulant completely. This will only lead over-consumption and bad habits.

If you are dependent on caffeine to lose fat maybe you should look at what you’re eating. Relying on caffeine because “you are always hungry” is a sign your diet sucks.

It’s a strong indicator you largely eat foods of a low quality with an even lower satiety rating (feeling of fullness).

“Junk food” may feel good in the moment, sure. However 20 minutes later you are left feeling unsatisfied and hungry again.

Eating whole foods will allow you feel fuller for much longer. This will dramatically reduce your cravings and thus need for caffeine.

It may not taste just as good but it will mean you have a much better chance of achieving your fat loss goals. Let’s put this into perspective.

What is more important – satisfying cravings “in the moment” or losing fat, getting lean and looking and feeling better than ever?

The choice is clear to me.

Eat more starches, fruit, vegetables, lean meats and eggs. Eat less sugar-loaded cereal, breakfast bars, muffins, ice-cream and french fries. Simple right?

To use our analogy from earlier, caffeine should be a small tool in the box, not a big one. The biggest tool of all is a calorie deficit.

You must be burning more calories than you consume through food and drink. Without this all else is futile. Caffeine can make this easier but it cannot do it all alone.

Coffee has it’s place absolutely but the key is to use it in moderation. This will allow it’s positive effects to be noticeable while minimizing any negative ones.

Coffee has certainly been beneficial to me during fat loss phases in the past. I plan to use it effectively this time around again.

What do you want – immediate pleasure or long-term glory? The choice is yours.


Thanks for reading,

Stay tuned.

P.S Leave a comment down below to let me know what you think.

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2018-02-10T00:30:06+00:00 By |Diet|2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Jerry Huang | Smart Affiliate Success February 11, 2018 at 7:02 am - Reply

    Thanks for this really well-researched and in-depth post. I totally agree with you that we should not depend on coffee to lose weight to the point we get addicted. Water is still the best. I’m just curious, does this apply to all kinds of coffee? And does coffee with sugar and milk work? Cuz I believe many people tend to add a lot of sugar which seems to conflict with the purpose of losing weight.

    • Peter February 12, 2018 at 3:52 am - Reply

      Thanks for commenting Jerry. Yes you are right about sugar. High calorie caffeine drinks can completely defeat the purpose of using it as a weight loss tool.

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