Does Coffee Help You Lose Weight?

According to a new study, you can add weight loss to the growing list of health benefits of coffee.

woman drinking coffee - benefits of coffee

Studies found that women 45 to 69 who drank more than four cups per day had just over four percent less body fat than non-coffee drinkers.

© digitalskillet | Getty Images

The only commodity traded more than coffee is oil. Over 2 billion cups of coffee are consumed every day. Tea was once the favored drink of Americans, but that changed after the Boston Tea party in 1773. Today, coffee is America’s favorite beverage. You could say it’s our patriotic duty. [1] We drink about 400 million cups each day. [2,3]

Coffee is also one of the most studied beverages in history. Early research on coffee was mostly negative. It was even listed as a possible cause of cancer by the World Health Organization (WHO). It turns out that a lot of the negative findings were because many more people were smoking cigarettes along with their coffee. [4]

A breakthrough study for coffee was published in the journal Circulation in 2015. Researchers found that people who drink three to four cups of coffee live about eight to 15 percent longer than non-coffee drinkers.

Other benefits of coffee may include a lower risk for: [2,4]

  • Heart disease and stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease
  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Colon, liver, melanoma, and uterine cancer

Coffee and Weight Loss

A new study has been published in The Journal of Nutrition. Using data collected from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), the researchers found that people who do not drink coffee have more body fat than people who do. [2,3]

With that being said, is coffee good for weight loss?

NHANES surveys 5,000 Americans across the country each year and asks questions about nutrition and diet. The survey includes measurements of body fat using a body scan called dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA scan). It also asks about diet (which includes coffee). [2,6] Using two years of data on coffee and DXA scans, the study reports: [2,3]

  • Women ages 20 to 44 who drank two to three cups had between three and four percent less body fat than women of the same age who did not drink coffee.
  • Women ages 45 to 69 who drank more than four cups per day had just over four percent less body fat than non-coffee drinkers.
  • The coffee benefit was less significant in men. Men who drank two to three cups of coffee per day had almost two percent less body fat than men who did not drink coffee.

A four percent loss of body fat may not sound like much, but one percent of your body fat equals about two pounds of weight. [7] That could mean about eight less pounds of belly fat. Women naturally have more fat than men, which may be why they benefited more from coffee than men in the study. The weight loss benefit occurs for both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee, so it is probably due to bioactive ingredients from coffee, like antioxidants. [2,3]

This was not the first study to link coffee drinking with lower body fat. A 2019 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that men who drank four cups of caffeinated coffee per day over six months had about a four percent drop in body fat. [8]

Coffee Health Risks

About 30 years ago, coffee drinking was linked to bladder and pancreatic cancers, but more recent findings have reversed those findings and the WHO has removed coffee as a cancer concern. You may have heard that drinking coffee can increase the risk of esophageal cancer, but that risk comes from drinking any very hot liquid, over 149 degrees, which is much too hot for most people. [4]

Although coffee is not bad for your health, caffeinated coffee can have unpleasant side effects for some people like heart palpitations, feeling jittery, or keeping you awake at night. Any kind of coffee causes some people to have heartburn. Caffeine can raise your blood pressure for a while because it is a stimulant, but it does not cause high blood pressure. [9]

Researchers think that in time, as the bioactive compounds in coffee are identified, they could be used as part of an anti-obesity treatment. If you are not a coffee drinker, nobody is advising you to start drinking coffee for weight loss. But, if you are a regular coffee drinker, enjoy the health benefits along with the coffee. [2,3]


Sources

  1. PBS, History of Coffee | The History Kitchen | PBS Food
  2. Regular Coffee Consumption Is Associated with Lower Reginal Adiposity Measured by DXA among US Women, The Journal of Nutrition, https://academic.oup.com/jn/article-abstract/150/7/1909/5828319?redirectedFrom=fulltext
  3. ScienceDaily, Coffee linked to lower body fat in women, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/05/200513200402.htm
  4. Harvard Health, Coffee and health: What do the research say? – Mayo Clinic
  5. The latest scoop on the health benefits of coffee – Harvard Health Blog – Harvard Health Publishing
  6. About the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhanes/about_nhanes.htm
  7. Livestrong, How to Lose One Percentage of Body Fat | Livestrong.com
  8. HealthDay News, Could Your Morning Coffee Be a Weight-Loss Tool, https://consumer.healthday.com/vitamins-and-nutrition-information-27/caffeine-health-news-89/could-your-morning-coffee-be-a-weight-loss-tool-753803.html
  9. Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/coffee-and-health/faq-20058339

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Chris Iliades, MD

Chris Iliades has an MD degree and 15 years of experience as a freelance writer. Based in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, his byline has appeared regularly on many health and medicine … Read More

View all posts by Chris Iliades, MD

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