Coffee for Weight Loss: Myth or Metabolic Booster?
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Coffee for Weight Loss: Myth or Metabolic Booster?

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Coffee for Weight Loss: Myth or Metabolic Booster?

Posted 2 months ago

Brian Stanton

Brian Stanton


If you start your day by staggering to the coffee pot, you may wonder how coffee affects weight loss. This article will save you several minutes of fruitless Googling. 

The short answer is that coffee probably helps you lose weight. Just don't get feisty with the cream and sugar.

And don't expect coffee to replace diet, sleep, and exercise routines on your way to slimming down. Coffee plus an unhealthy lifestyle won't get you far. 

You knew that already, though. Let's talk more about coffee. 

Does Coffee Help You Lose Weight?

The literature suggests that coffee consumption reduces body weight (especially fat) in various populations.[*][*] Coffee drinkers also have lower risks of developing type 2 diabetes, a metabolic disorder linked to obesity. 

But there seems to be a contradiction. 85% of Americans drink caffeine daily (predominantly coffee)[*], yet about 80% of Americans are overweight or obese.[*] What gives?

One explanation is that coffee's weight-reducing effect is small. For instance, one study found that four weeks of drinking 3 cups daily of a special high-antioxidant blend coffee only led to about two pounds of weight loss.[*]

Another point is that many people take cream or sugar with their coffee. This practice is linked to weight gain.[*] 

But the biggest reason, no doubt, is that Americans overeat, over-sit, and undersleep. That's a formula for obesity that coffee is powerless to improve. 

Why Coffee Helps With Weight Loss

Two ingredients in coffee fuel its weight loss benefit:

  1. Caffeine
  2. Antioxidants, especially chlorogenic acid

Let's explore how these compounds affect your body when sipped. 

#1: Increased metabolic burn

Both caffeine and chlorogenic acid make you generate more heat and burn more calories.[*] This is called thermogenesis, and it's why supplement brands jam weight loss pills with caffeine. 

In one study, a 100-mg caffeine supplement boosted resting metabolic rate by 4% over 150 minutes. Caffeinating every 2 hours led to an 11% greater calorie burn over 12 hours.[*

#2: Appetite suppression

Drinking coffee may help with portion control. A few studies illustrate:

  • A 2012 randomized controlled trial found that both caffeinated and decaf coffee increased the satiety hormone peptide YY[*
  • A 2013 randomized controlled trial found that moderate coffee consumption reduces total calorie consumption for the day[*]
  • A 2017 review found that drinking coffee 0.5–4 hours before eating may reduce food intake in the subsequent meal[*]

Don't expect coffee to manage your appetite, though. The effects may be significant but they're small. 

#3: Enhanced fat-burning 

Caffeine liberates fatty acids from fat cells, giving you more fuel to burn. More caffeine, more fat-burning. In a 2016 meta-analysis with over 600 participants, the fat reduction effect increased by 28% each time caffeine intake doubled.[*

#4: Reduced inflammation

Low inflammation is crucial for metabolic health and, therefore, weight regulation. Coffee antioxidants may lower inflammation by sequestering free radicals that cause damage and immune activity in your body.[*

But inflammation reduction isn't just about weight loss. It may also explain why researchers have linked coffee consumption to lower risks of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers.[*]

#5: Exercise enhancement

Diet is the first lever to pull if you want to lose weight. Exercise is the second. 

Regular strength and aerobic training help you manage your weight while reducing your risk for every chronic disease.[*] No drug, pill, or superfood has these benefits. 

Caffeine is a proven exercise enhancer. In one study, young men who consumed 3 mg/kg caffeine (about 3 cups of coffee) had an 11–13% higher peak fat-burning capacity than during non-caffeinated trials.[*

Caffeine also reduces perceived effort so your workout is less of a slog.[*] The more you enjoy it, the more you'll do it. 

Coffee Weight Loss FAQ

You may have more questions. Let's see if we can answer them. 

Does decaf coffee help you lose weight? 

Possibly. As you'll recall, caffeine and antioxidants drive the weight loss benefit. Decaf coffee is strong on antioxidants but weak on caffeine. 

Nonetheless, an analysis of three population studies found both regular and decaffeinated coffee to be "inversely associated with weight gain." [*] Good news for decaf fans. 

What if you take sugar or creamer?

The analysis also found that adding sugar was linked to weight gain.[*] That's about as surprising as hearing "Jingle Bells" in your supermarket on December 17th. 

Creamer wasn't linked to weight loss or gain. 

If black coffee makes you blanch, use stevia or monk fruit to sweeten your brew. Your body will appreciate the reduction in empty calories. 

Is coffee Keto?

Certainly. Black coffee contains zero calories—nothing to kick you out of ketosis

Adding heavy cream, MCT oil, or butter is Keto-friendly. Adding sugar is not.

If you do consume carbs with your coffee, the chlorogenic acid helps you get back into ketosis faster.[*] That's a nice bonus. 

Can you drink coffee while fasting?

Also yes, for similar reasons. Zero-calorie food and drink won't break a fast. 

Neither will a bit of fat in your coffee. Fat is ketogenic, so you won't derail the metabolic benefits of fasting. 

Read our simple guide to what breaks a fast to learn more. 

How much coffee is safe to drink?

According to the FDA, most people can tolerate 400 mg of daily caffeine (about 4 cups of coffee) before experiencing adverse effects, but your mileage may vary. If 2 cups make you quiver like a Chihuahua in a swordfight, back off the dose. 

Don't Rely on Coffee for Weight Loss

The secret to losing weight isn't to drink more coffee. If that's your primary weight loss strategy, you'll be overcaffeinated and underwhelmed. 

Portion control, exercise, sleep, and stress management are bigger needle movers. Handling these areas guarantees positive outcomes in the long run. 

Drinking coffee guarantees nothing—but it can help you burn a little more fat. It may also help lower your risk of chronic disease. 

So keep staggering to the coffee pot. It's a fine way to start the day.