Could drinking coffee help with weight loss? We’ve been mulling over this question and decided to take it to the experts to find the answer. To jump ahead, we’re excited to report that after speaking to a registered dietitian and a physician that it is possible. Which is good, considering our affinity for a cup (or three) of joe every day.
“The caffeine in coffee can help boost your metabolism in the short-term,” says registered dietitian Dara Godfrey with an emphasis on can. “As a stimulant, it can help signal fat cells to break down fat. It can also help you eat less during mealtime by reducing the feelings of hunger.” But as all good things must come to an end, Dara tells us that as time goes on, coffee drinkers may become less sensitive to the effects of caffeine.
So how should you drink your coffee, and just how much for it to be effective? Dara suggests two to three cups before 3 p.m. and urges drinking it black (without milk, cream, or sugar). She also recommends drinking it before a workout to help give you an energy boost.
Integrative physician Ralph Esposito agrees. He tells us, “Skip the pre-workout drinks with tons of artificial sweeteners and fillers that have been shown to increase appetite and kill your flora (good bacteria). Have a cup of coffee before you exercise, as it will give you the energy you need and also improve fat burning when your body wants to burn fat most.”
We asked Esposito how the process works. He explains, “Adiponectin is a hormone your body uses to burn fat, sugar, increase metabolism and suppress hunger. Coffee intake has been shown to increase this fat-burning hormone in women, especially in habitual daily coffee drinkers.” Before we join Javita’s Dollar Coffee Club, it’s important to note that too much coffee can increase stress hormones and weight retention in women, according to Esposito. “Keep your coffee intake to less than four cups (6 oz.) daily,” he says.
Also bear in mind to avoid coffee if you experience PMS, bloating, or weight gain during your period, shares Esposito. “Coffee can cause muscle cramping, increase breast tenderness, and can irritate your intestines, contributing to more bloating and inflammation,” he says.
For the purpose of weight loss, Esposito recommends intermittent fasting and coffee. “It’s the best one-two punch to burn fat,” he says. “Intermittent fasting is when you fast 12 to 16 plus hours, giving your gut a break and letting your body run on the stored fat and sugar. Having coffee during your fast will not only cut your hunger and cravings, but it will force your body to pull from those stubborn fat cells, especially if you have coffee during the last few hours of your fast. If dinner was at 8 p.m., then have your coffee when you wake up, and then wait two more hours before eating to let your body work on the fat burning process. This works best if you keep carb intake low.”
Finally, if you want to stop yourself from over-indulging, Esposito suggests having a cup of decaf coffee right before or after a meal. “Pick the meal you tend to overeat most,” he says, “Decaf coffee has been shown to cut appetite and reduce cravings via a molecule called PYY. This will stop you from overeating.”