If you could eliminate the calories, would you drink 4 Mountain Dews, 2 cups of pure espresso, or 2 ½ Red Bulls to lose weight? Many current diet products are marketed based on the presumed benefits of caffeine for weight loss, and they often contain around 200 mg. Caffeine is available in diet pills and powders as well as on its own. But can it really help you lose weight?
Some claims indicate that caffeine works to reduce appetite in order to help with weight loss. Even experts at the Mayo Clinic largely agree that caffeine can decrease hunger, but the effects are not long-lasting and not dramatic enough to truly be effective.
Caffeine certainly revs up the body, including the metabolism, so it is sometimes touted as an easy, natural way to speed up the body and lose weight. Caffeine stimulates the cardiovascular system, so heart rate, blood flow and metabolism are indeed increased. However, no studies have shown that this increase actually has an effect on weight loss.
The first problem may be that the weight loss isn’t due to losing fat. Instead, it may be a temporary drop in pounds due to caffeine’s properties as a diuretic. Water lost is regained quickly by the body, so although its depletion may show on the scale, the weight loss in temporary.
Any extra energy felt by caffeine consumption may be counteracted by insomnia. Lack of sleep is never healthy may reduce the energy you have for exercise. The body will often react to fatigue by increasing hunger, defeating the purpose of any brief increase in metabolism. The increase in heart rate due to raised metabolism may cause damage to the heart muscle, as well.
Caffeine can even contribute to osteoporosis. Use may cause a loss of calcium, a mineral necessary to retain strong bones and help prevent osteoporosis.
Some studies show that caffeine may actually inhibit weight loss. The stimulation activates the body’s natural flight-or-fight response, a reaction to stress. Hormones release make the body cling to fat rather than allowing it to be released. Using caffeine long-term has been shown to create muscle loss, which in turn reduced the body’s fat-burning capabilities. On the contrary, improving muscle mass is one of the best ways to lose weight.
So will caffeine help you lose weight? Yes, but it is not a component of a healthy, long-term weight loss program. In moderation, caffeine may not be a danger to most healthy individuals or hinder weight loss, but it should not be a large part of any healthy routine.
“Caffeine Content of Food and Drugs.” Nutrition Action Healthletter. Center for Science in the Public Interest. Cspinet.org.
Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D. “Does caffeine increase weight loss?” Mayoclinic.org.
Naimi Manal. “Does Caffeine Inhibit Weight Loss?” ehow.com.