What is Coffee Diet? Is It Effective for Weight Loss?

by Dr. Ahmed Zayed
Published on January 22, 2020

If you are a morning person, you are probably one of those people who are fond of drinking coffee. And yes, coffee can make you wide awake the entire day. But coffee is more than that! Do you know that coffee can bring you more to life, especially that it can also be used for your weight loss plan? 

Coffee diet is a trend nowadays. If you are a coffee lover, you will most likely love this as this diet involves a lot of cups of coffee every day while limiting your calorie intake. This article will talk all about the coffee diet. 

What is Coffee Diet?

Coffee diet is introduced by a medical doctor named Bob Arnot in his 2017 book entitled “The Coffee Lover’s Diet.” This diet involves drinking at least 3 cups of coffee a day. So if you are a coffee addict, you will probably love this diet (1)

Coffee contains high polyphenol antioxidants, which can lower your risk of various diseases, including cancer and type 2 diabetes. According to a study, caffeine can help not only to increase metabolism but also to promote weight loss (2)

This diet allows you to drink as much coffee as you want, either regular or decaf, provided that you comply with the three-cup minimum. It also emphasizes the ability of coffee to reduce fat absorption, curb appetite, boost metabolism, burn fats, and improve circulation. It is further advised to skip adding cream, sugar, or milk as these can reduce the absorption of polyphenol necessary for weight loss (3).

The coffee diet is inspired by the residents of the small island of Ikaria located in Greek, where many older people seem to be healthy, and it is believed that their longevity and health are due to the high intake of coffee rich in antioxidants. 

Does it help with Weight Loss?

The most commonly consumed and prominent psychoactive substance in the entire world is caffeine. Aside from coffee, it is also used in various fat-burning supplements nowadays. It is also known to increase metabolism and to mobilize fats from your tissues (4)

Here are the pieces of evidence which will make you believe that it helps in weight loss:

  • Coffee has stimulants

Coffee contains several substances that can affect your metabolisms, such as caffeine, theobromine, theophylline, and chlorogenic acid. These substances can help boost your energy, treat asthma, and slow down carb absorption. 

Caffeine blocks an inhibitory neurotransmitter called adenosine, which can increase the release of neurotransmitters, as well as cause the neurons to fire. If this happens, then you will most likely feel wide awake and more energized (5).  

If you do not get tired easily, and if your mind is active the entire day, then you will most likely engage in physical activities. This can also help you improve your performance. Remember that in losing weight, you should consider not only your diet but also other factors such as exercise (6)

  • Coffee mobilizes fats from tissues

Caffeine can help in stimulating your nervous system, responsible for sending signals to your fat cells to get rid of fats (7). This happens because of the levels of the hormone epinephrine, most commonly known as adrenaline, in your bloodstream increase. 

But even if fatty acids are released in your blood, you will lose weight only if you burn calories. You will burn calories if you limit your calorie consumption and increase your calorie burn. You can increase your calorie burn if you exercise more, eat less, or even take fat-burning supplements such as caffeine. 

  • Coffee boosts your metabolic rate

It will be easier to lose weight if you have a higher metabolic rate. You can also eat more food without even gaining weight. Several studies have shown that larger doses of caffeine can help you increase your metabolic rate (8)

The more you burn fats, the higher the increase in your metabolism (9). But then, the effect is less likely for obese people. A study shows that caffeine can burn fats about 29 percent more in lean people, while only 10 percent more in obese people (10). The effect is also greater in younger individuals, which it tends to decrease in older ones.  

Potential Benefits of Coffee Diet

Coffee is made of antioxidants and caffeine, both known to provide various health benefits, such as decreased free radical damage and inflammation. It is also known to lose weight, such that it increases metabolism and reduces appetite. 

  • Reduces appetite

If your appetite is suppressed, you will less likely consume calories. According to research, if you drink coffee before eating, you will most likely decrease the amount of food that you will consume (11). But if you consume coffee 3 to 4.5 hours before eating, it was shown that there is no effect on your appetite. 

Another study shows that drinking coffee has a huge effect on weight loss for overweight people. Those who drink coffee have consumed lower calories afterward, while those who drink water consumed more calories (12).

  • Increases metabolism

Caffeine is said to increase the number of fats and the number of calories you burn, thereby making it easy for you to lose weight (13). Research shows that people who have greater caffeine intake experience a decrease in body mass index (BMI), weight, and fat mass. Those who doubled their caffeine intake experience a greater decrease by 17 to 18 percent. 

Another study shows that people who take dietary supplements containing polyphenols and caffeine burn a significant amount of calories and fats (14). Coffee is also capable of boosting the fats you burn from your physical activities. 

Downsides of Coffee Diet

  • Excessive caffeine

Decaffeinated coffee is the best option if you choose a coffee diet. But there are those people who prefer caffeinated coffee. Although caffeinated coffee is said to have various health benefits, excessive intake of the same might result in health issues. 

A study shows the link between coffee and high blood pressure. People who consume more than 3 cups of coffee every day are most likely to suffer from high blood pressure (15). The reason for this is that caffeine is a diuretic. It means that it can make you excrete more fluids by urinating. 

That is the reason why if you drink a lot of coffee every day, you are most likely to go to the restroom frequently. If this is also the case, then you will be losing too much potassium. This will affect your heart, as well as your muscle control. 

Excessive caffeine intake can also lead to headaches, heart attacks, insomnia, and higher risks of osteoporosis, bone fractures, and depression. Yes, too much coffee can be harmful, but it is safe to consume up to 400 mg of coffee per day, and that is around 4 cups of coffee (16)

  • Regain weight

The recommended daily calorie intake is 1500 calories. If your calorie intake is less than the daily recommended calorie, your body will undergo a lot of changes due to calorie restriction. This will most likely result in weight regain (17).

Do you know that your body is already used to the number of calories you usually consume? So if you significantly decrease your calorie intake, your body will most likely adapt by decreasing your metabolism and at the same time, reducing the calories you burn. Aside from that, you might experience some hormonal changes, which can also increase your appetite. 

Furthermore, if you decrease your calorie intake, the leptin level in your body decreases. Anyway, leptin is a satiety hormone, which means that it helps promote your feeling of fullness. It can help you reduce your appetite. If you have lower levels of leptin, you will most likely experience food cravings and hunger (18)

That is the reason why diets which limit your calorie intake will most likely result in weight regain. And this includes a coffee diet. A study shows that 80 percent of people who have low-calorie diets regain weight just after a month off the diet, while about 100 percent of people regain weight within five years after they end their diet (19)

  • Not safe for long-term

Drinking a lot of coffee will result in excessive caffeine intake. If this happens, then you will most likely experience depression and insomnia. Aside from that, it is a low-calorie diet, which makes it hard for you to lose weight for a long time continuously. 

Tips and Tricks

  • Don’t drink caffeine after 2 P.M.

We already know that caffeine can keep us wide awake as it is a stimulant. It gives us a lot of energy, even if we feel tired. But drinking coffee in the afternoon might keep us energized at night, and this can interfere with our sleep (20)

We already know that poor sleep can lead to various health issues. For this reason, we must note that we should not consume caffeine late in the day. If in case you want to drink one, choose decaffeinated coffee or maybe find an alternative such as tea which contains less caffeine (21)

Some people might not be sensitive to caffeine, which means that not all of us experience sleep problems even if we consumed a cup of coffee late in the day. It is also worth noting that lack of sleep can lead to weight gain. So it will contradict the benefits of a coffee diet. 

  • Don’t load your coffee with cream, sugar or milk

Coffee, per se, is healthy. What makes it usually harmful to our body are the added cream, sugar, and milk. Although sugar is widely used in our society nowadays, its detrimental effects on our body should not be taken for granted. 

Since sugar contains a high amount of fructose, it is linked to all kinds of serious health diseases such as diabetes and obesity. It is also basic that losing weight means that we should avoid sweetened foods. Drinking coffee with loads of cream, sugar, and milk can negate the positive effects of a coffee diet. 

  • Don’t drink too much coffee

Indeed, the diet requires us to comply with the three-cup minimum. Although it means that we should consume more than 3 cups of coffee every day, it doesn’t mean that we should drink coffee excessively. 

Excessive intake of caffeine can lead to adverse side effects. But the effects may differ on each individual (22). The recommended amount of coffee per day is about 95 mg of caffeine if you are weighing 176 pounds (23). But, as already discussed earlier, it is safe to consume up to 400 mg of coffee per day, and that is around 4 cups of coffee (16)

Conclusion

Coffee diet might be effective for one, but not for some in losing weight. Although coffee is said to provide various health benefits, it can also have negative side effects. Too much coffee can be harmful to your health. And restricting too many calories can have adverse effects, such as regaining the weight you lose. 

But it is advisable to increase your fiber and protein intake while decreasing the amount of sugar you add to your coffee. Aside from the diet, you should also exercise regularly to help further you lose weight. Remember that the key to losing weight is not only to consider your diet but also other factors such as exercise and persistence. 

References

  1. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/coffee-diet#what-it-is
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26189608
  3. https://www.health.com/weight-loss/coffee-diet
  4. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/coffee-increase-metabolism
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20164566
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15657469/
  7. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10068-010-0151-6
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2912010
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14684395
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7485480 
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28446037 
  12.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23671022 
  13.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30335479 
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27331913 
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27075317 
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28438661 
  17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28481261 
  18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18165128 
  19. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15865354 
  20. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26786412 
  21. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19120728 
  22. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22754033 
  23. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/4277 
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