Does Coffee Affect Your Weight? (+ Tips to Drink Coffee Without Gaining Weight)
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Is coffee helpful (or harmful) for weight loss? It’s more complicated than you might think.
Coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the world. And while many people enjoy the jolt of energy that it provides, many are wondering if coffee is helpful (or harmful) for weight loss. Unfortunately, there is no exact answer – the effects of coffee on weight management are mixed. The benefits of coffee include improved metabolism and appetite control, which could help in weight loss.
However, coffee contains caffeine which can lead to more sugar cravings and poor sleep in some people – both factors can negatively impact weight. Moreover, numerous coffee drinks contain excessive calories and added sugar.
In this article, we take a closer look at how coffee affects your weight.
Coffee and Weight Loss
Some studies suggest that coffee may be beneficial for weight loss.
- Coffee is low in calories.
Black coffee, without any additional ingredients, is very low in calories and may help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight. When trying to lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit – you can do this either by consuming fewer calories or increasing physical activity.
An easy way to reduce your calorie intake is to consume lower-calorie beverages. For instance, replacing just 1 cup of a high-calorie, sugary beverage with the same amount of water may lead to over 1.9kg (4 pounds) of weight loss in over 6 months.
By itself, coffee is a very low calorie drink. In fact, 1 cup (240ml) of brewed coffee has only 2 calories. However, coffee only contains this few number of calories if you drink it black – without adding milk, sugar, or any other ingredients.
If you’re trying to reduce your total calorie intake to lose weight, start by replacing high-calorie beverages such as chocolate milk, juice, or soda with plain, black coffee.
- Caffeine may decrease body fat and boost metabolism.
According to a study published in Scientific Reports, caffeine may stimulate brown adipose tissue – the fat in your body that burns calories. Essentially, researchers found that drinking one cup of coffee can increase your metabolic rate to the point that brown adipose tissue activity occurs, leading to fat-burning and weight loss.
Another study revealed that people who drank four cups of caffeinated coffee per day saw a 4% decrease in body fat. Researchers suspect this is because drinking coffee can increase a person’s metabolic rate, which can cause an increase in the amount of calories burned.
- Caffeine may suppress and reduce your appetite.
Caffeine may also help suppress and reduce your appetite. Your appetite is controlled by several factors, including hormones, activity levels, and nutrient composition of meals.
Research shows that drinking caffeinated coffee may reduce levels of ghrelin – the hunger hormone. Moreover, research shows that drinking caffeinated coffee may reduce the number of calories that you consume throughout the day, compared to not drinking it.
However, research concerning caffeine as an appetite suppressant has conflicting results – some studies report that caffeine has little to no effect on feelings of fullness. Therefore, more studies are necessary.
Coffee and Weight Gain
So, the burning question: Does coffee make you fat?
While some studies suggest that coffee may aid weight loss, it may also negatively affect weight in various ways.
- Some coffee drinks are packed with sugar and calories.
Although black coffee is low in calories, many coffee drinks are loaded with sugar and calories. Many popular franchises and coffee shops sell sugar-sweetened coffee drinks that contain hundreds of calories and added sugar.
For instance according to the Square Australian Coffee Report, flat white is one of the most popular coffee choices in Australia – with latte taking the crown in other areas.
That’s a lot of milk. And milk contains calories and fat, which is another reason your morning cup of joe could be increasing your waistline. According to CalorieKing
- Flat White with skim milk (small) contains 285 kJ/68 cal, 9.5g carbs, 0.2g fat
- Flat White with whole milk (small) contains 521 kJ/124 cal, 8.8g carbs, 7g fat
- Flat White with soy milk (small) contains 394.8 kJ/94 cal, 10.7g carbs, 4.2g fat
- Flat White with skim milk (large) contains 521 kJ/124 cal, 17.2g carbs, 0.4g fat
- Flat White with whole milk (large) contains 945 kJ/225 cal, 16g carbs, 12.8g fat
- Flat White with soy milk (large) contains 718.2 kJ/171 cal, 19.5g carbs, 7.6g fat
Add sugar into that and you’ll need to add 63 kJ/15 cals and 4g carbs per teaspoon. It might not sound like a lot on its own, but when you add up the daily tally – and maybe you’re drinking more than one – then it soon adds up. Research shows that intake of sugary beverages, such as sweetened coffee drinks, is associated with weight gain and a higher risk of obesity.
- Caffeinated coffee can increase your sugar cravings.
Drinking caffeinated coffee has been associated with an increase in sugar cravings. This means that your morning cup of coffee could be setting you up for making bad snack choices later on in your day, which can prevent you from losing weight.
One study published in the Journal of Food Science revealed that drinking a cup of caffeinated coffee messed with people’s taste buds, especially their interpretation of sweetness. And because caffeine alters your perceived sense of sweetness, this can result in craving sugary foods – the daily addition of a high-sugar snack with your coffee may lead to eventual weight gain.
To avoid sugar cravings and the potential weight gain that may come with eating high-calorie, sweet treats, enjoy your coffee with foods that provide a source of healthy fat and protein (i.e. an egg breakfast). Fat and protein both promote fullness and may reduce the frequency of sugar cravings.
- Caffeine may disrupt healthy sleeping habits.
Caffeine acts as a stimulant by blocking the effects of adenosine – a chemical in your brain that makes you sleepy. This may be helpful if you’re trying to stay awake or if you need an extra jolt of energy. However, if you consume it later in the day, coffee may interfere with your sleep patterns.
In fact, one study shows that drinking coffee even 6 hours before bedtime can cause sleep disturbances – and insufficient or poor sleep has been repeatedly linked to weight gain. Poor sleep is also associated with increased appetite, more cravings for processed food, and higher body weight[14,15,16].
Drinking Coffee Without Gaining Weight: Tips for Success
There are numerous ways to enjoy your daily cup of coffee without gaining weight. For one, you can take plain black coffee – without adding milk, sugar, or any other ingredients. Don’t like the taste of plain black coffee? If you’d like to add some sugar to your drink, just remember this important tip – avoid adding excess sugar to your coffee.
Sugar is already present in many flavored creamers and pre-prepared lattes – and many people add liquid sweeteners or table sugar directly to their coffee. Here are some tips to reduce sugar intake while still adding flavor to your cup of joe:
- Use unsweetened coconut milk, almond milk, or half-and-half
- Sprinkle in some cinnamon
- Add a few drops of vanilla extract
- Use a small amount of a natural, no-calorie sweetener (i.e. stevia)
If you enjoy Bulletproof coffee, choose healthy fats (i.e. coconut oil or grass-fed butter) – and use small amounts. Moreover, be mindful of your daily calorie intake to make sure that you’re not over-consuming calories.
The Bottom Line
Is coffee helpful (or harmful) for weight loss? Unfortunately, there is no exact answer – the effects of coffee on weight management are mixed. Coffee alone doesn’t cause weight gain; in fact, it may promote weight loss by boosting your metabolism and reducing your appetite. However, it can negatively impact your sleeping patterns, which may promote weight gain.
Moreover, drinking coffee can alter your perceived sense of sweetness, which may result in craving sugary foods – the daily addition of a high-sugar snack with your coffee may lead to eventual weight gain. Also, many coffee drinks are loaded with sugar and calories which could be increasing your waistline.But while drinking coffee may cause you to gain some weight, it doesn’t mean that you have to cut it out of your diet completely.
To minimize your risk of gaining weight, try drinking plain black coffee – or cut out added high-calorie and sugar additives. Don’t like the taste of black coffee? To add some flavor to your coffee, you can use healthier alternatives like unsweetened coconut milk or almond milk, cinnamon, vanilla extract, or a no-calorie sweetener like stevia. This way, you can enjoy your daily cup of coffee without worrying about gaining weight.
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