To all people who are planning to lose weight and are doing that by reading tremendous amounts of conflicting advice about it on the Internet – it all might seem like rocket science at first.
They start losing their enthusiasm and wonder if it’s all worth it. While we can’t explain everything in one article, we can help about certain specifics regarding nutrition and supplements.
In this article we’ll explain the effects of coffee (or caffeine in coffee) on weight loss. Because there’s conflicting advice on this topic too, this article will serve as a detailed explanation of how caffeine can help you lose weight.
What is Caffeine?
Caffeine is a natural chemical stimulant found in various quantities in beans, leaves and the fruit of some plants. The way it functions as a stimulant is through the CNS (Central Nervous System) and its effects are increased alertness and energy, which is something many college students can confirm when they are preparing for university finals while drinking 5 double espressos a day.
Another effect commonly contributed to caffeine consumption is weight loss. If you take into consideration that caffeine stimulates the CNS, it would be safe to assume that it could also be helpful for weight loss.
Many long term studies have shown that consistent caffeine consumption is related to weight reduction and it seems that this has something to do with various factors that are based on the chemistry of the molecule of the caffeine itself.
Caffeine’s thermogenic effects
The level of caffeine reaches its peak after about an hour of consumption, which is the approximate time when people start feeling the initial stimulating effects.
It seems that caffeine is able to increase the expenditure of energy by around 10 percent in exercising individuals by increasing the body’s heat production. This so-called thermogenic characteristic of caffeine is believed to be one of the main reasons for the increased rate of energy expenditure on a daily basis.
One of the studies has shown that drinking 600mg of caffeine results in an increased energy expenditure of around 150kcal per day. It’s important to note though that if you regularly drink coffee or are a frequent user of caffeine tablets as a supplement you will not experience the same thermogenic properties a first-time user would.
Metabolism of fat
Research has shown increased lipid oxidation after the consumption of caffeine. Even though it is an undisputed fact that caffeine is mobilizing fatty acids from the fat tissue, current studies have found little evidence to suggest that any enhancement in performance is because of fat oxidation. The fact that it is mobilizing fatty acids is a very important characteristic since it is believed it spares the muscle glycogen.
This basically means that you will still have your glycogen reserves intact and that the body will be able to use them in the latter part of the workout. By getting the fatty acids from the fat deposits, the body essentially uses the fats as an energy source instead of glycogen or the muscle tissue itself.
The way caffeine does this is through one extraordinary property; it actually stimulates the pancreas to release smaller amounts of insulin. You might wonder how it’s able to do so when it is neither a protein nor a carbohydrate and has no calories.
The reason it can do this is because caffeine has the ability to increase the production of adrenaline and glucagon, hormones that trigger the release of glycogen from the liver and get energy from fat deposits. This, in turn, raises blood sugar and insulin levels and decreases the cells’ sensitivity to insulin.
If we look at it closely we can deduce that the lowered sensitivity to insulin induced by caffeine is because of the increase of free fatty acids circulating in the blood, which the body now uses as an energy source.
The substance that causes the fat tissue breakdown is a metabolite of caffeine and it’s called paraxanthine. If you plan on targeting the stubborn fat specifically then you should focus on consuming caffeine before your training and it would have a greater effect if you drank it on an empty stomach.
One study has proven that consuming caffeine before your training can increase the fat burning potential by approximately 22% during the entire duration of your training.
What’s even more interesting is that several studies have proven that the fat burning effect can be prolonged beyond the training itself, also known as the afterburner effect. Since caffeine is a diuretic it is important to drink a lot of water.
Caffeine’s diuretic effects
With is stimulant properties, caffeine increases both your blood pressure and heart rate which results in an increased blood volume. All this blood has to be filtered by the kidneys which in turn results in increased waste production. This, of course, means that a lot of regular coffee drinkers go to the toilet a bit more frequently.
However, the acute diuretic effect is only visible when one has consumed more than 250mg of caffeine. This effect does not happen with smaller doses of caffeine usually found in single cups of tea or coffee.
Like any other stimulant as time goes by you will find caffeine’s effects diminishing due to the body becoming accustomed to it. Can the diuretic effect induced by caffeine be beneficial to fat loss?
Even though you might find that there has been a slight weight decrease on the scale, loss of water is generally never considered an effective weight loss.