The idea of a coffee diet might seem like the greatest weight loss plan in the world if you’re a coffee lover, but does it really work? Like most diet fads, there’s reason to believe it might be too good to be true, but some scientific evidence backs up claims coffee can help with weight loss.
Weight Loss Benefits of the Coffee Diet
For starters, coffee is a diuretic, which means drinking causes you to use the bathroom more. It also relieves bloating from water retention, so most people experience some weight loss when they increase coffee consumption.
Despite the slimmer appearance and reduction of bloating, they are not actually losing body fat and the results are temporary, at best. There is some evidence that coffee bean extract targets fat and is effective as a pre-workout option.
Drinking a cup before you exercise can enhance the burn and help convert fat into energy. It also works as an appetite suppressant, which means drinking coffee helps you consume fewer calories. Coffee al so heats up the body and increases your metabolic rate, making it a viable short-term weight loss tool.
Additionally, coffee has some general health benefits, so overall it can help you feel better and be more active—indirectly helping you burn more calories and supporting lose weight. Some studies have shown that higher amounts of caffeine intake (from about three cups per day) might be linked to lower body mass index.
In addition to drinking coffee, there is also some evidence that green (unroasted) coffee beans contribute to weight loss. One study that included 16 overweight participants resulted in an average of 17 pounds lost per subject for those taking green coffee supplements daily for 22 weeks.
Most health experts agree it’s likely the caffeine helps with weight loss, but don’t automatically assume all caffeinated beverages will have the same effect. Your daily calorie consumption versus how many calories you burn is the primary factor controlling weight loss and some caffeinated beverages, such as soda and “designer” coffee drinks tend to be high in sugar.
What’s the Deal with Butter in Your Cup of Morning Joe?
Bulletproof coffee, a drink concocted by Dave Asprey and based on yak butter tea he consumed while hiking in Tibet, is made by adding unsalted butter made from the milk of grass-fed cows.
According to advocates of Bulletproof coffee, coffee beans give you the mental edge and energy you need to perform and the addition of butter provides healthy milk fat with none of the damaging casein proteins found in cream.
Asprey claims his coffee recipe is creamy and delicious and provides sustained energy and appetite satisfaction throughout a good portion of the day. The key to Bulletproof coffee’s effectiveness is in the quality of the ingredients. Coffee beans must be clean and free of mold toxins and the butter must be from grass-fed cows.
Butter is nutrient-dense and high in omega-3 fatty acids, CLA, beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin D, vitamin E, and antioxidants. It’s also high in butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid, which studies have shown can both prevent and decrease inflammation in humans. Animal studies also showed butyrate protected against mental illness, improved body composition, increased metabolism, and improved gut health.
You can learn more and purchase Bulletproof products at their website.
As you might expect, the Bulletproof coffee diet has its detractors, many of whom back up their opinion with scientific evidence. They are not only skeptical of its weight loss benefits but also of the overall health benefits it claims.
Joan Salge Black, clinical associate professor of nutrition at Boston University, in an interview with the New York Times, compared the obsession with Bulletproof Coffee to the grapefruit diet fad and said: “It is not the breakfast of champions.”
The Times article also includesa recommendation from Dr. Frank Lipman, an integrative doctor who recommends the Bulletproof recipe to patients based on mental clarity and pep, but reminds them it should not be seen as a complete source of nutrition. Mental clarity, energy, and taste aside, can Bulletproof coffee help you lose weight?
Maybe, but only indirectly. The coffee can temporarily suppress your appetite and the butter can help you feel satiated, so you might consume fewer calories overall during the day. However, don’t expect it to be the “magic bullet” for which you’ve searched to make weight loss easy.
Reality of the Coffee Diet
Ultimately, is a coffee diet going to help you lose weight? Probably not. Coffee has benefits and there’s usually no reason to exclude it from your daily routine. One or two cups per day can give you added energy and drinking a cup before a workout can improve your performance.
However, drinking four, five, or six or more cups per day can be detrimental to your health, and interfere with your ability to get a healthy amount of sleep. It can also increase anxiety, raise your heart rate and blood pressure, and make you nauseated.
If you enjoy the taste of butter in your coffee or you find “bulletproofing” it helps you avoid the caffeine crash that sometimes occurs a few hours after a cup, just be aware of the calories you’re adding per serving. The same is true if you enjoy coffee with cream or half-and-half, sugar, or other sweet additions. A cup of coffee can go from 30 calories to well over 350 calories quickly, which definitely won’t aid in weight loss.
Also, keep in mind that some of the coffee’s side effects can make it more challenging to lose weight. Some studies have shown that sleep-deprived people have a more difficult time losing weight because their bodies are not producing efficient amounts of ghrelin, a natural hormone that acts as an appetite stimulate.
If you’re drinking too much coffee or drinking it too late in the day and it’s affecting your ability to sleep well, it might be a struggle to lose weight.
Any of the positive weight loss benefits of coffee will be overridden by the negative effects of sleep deprivation. The bottom line? Used in moderation, coffee can support your overall weight loss goals, but a coffee diet probably won’t be the reason for any sustained, significant weight loss.