Why Coffee Can Be Good for Weight Loss and How to Drink It
- Black coffee is a good drink for weight loss as it contains less than 5 calories/serving.
- Be aware of coffee drinks that contain milk or flavoring as this can jack up the calorie count.
- Drink coffee in moderation, no more than 4 cups a day, and at least several hours before bedtime.
- Visit Insider’s Health Reference library for more advice.
Coffee is the most popular morning beverage consumed around the world. In fact, the global population consumes over 160 million bags of coffee in a year.
Though the drink is most popular for boosting energy, it can also be healthy and help with your
“Coffee, when consumed in moderation and without too many added sweeteners, can help with weight loss and be beneficial to your overall health,” says Ashley Shaw, RD, a registered dietitian at Preg Appetit.
Here’s what you should know about coffee and weight loss, and how much you should drink to lose weight.
Yes, coffee can help with weight loss
Coffee contains nutrients such as niacin, potassium, magnesium, and antioxidants — which can improve digestive health, support muscle function, and lead to better heart health. It also contains caffeine, which boosts metabolism, improves energy, and can promote weight loss.
Here are some health and weight loss-related benefits of this energy-boosting drink:
Black coffee is a low-calorie beverage. Weight loss is associated with a calorie deficit, which is when you consume fewer calories than you burn. A popular way to help achieve a calorie deficit is to consume fewer calories than your usual caloric intake.
Black coffee is an ideal beverage to drink for weight loss as it contains less than 5 calories per serving (one 8-0z cup). However, it’s only low-calorie if you drink it black.
“While black coffee is low-calorie, it can quickly become high in calories, sugar, and fats when different milks and sugars are added to it,” Shaw says.
Caffeine boosts metabolism. Metabolism is the process in which the body breaks down nutrients and utilizes foods’ calories throughout the day. Caffeine, a stimulant found in coffee, is one of few substances that may increase your basal metabolic rate (BMR), also known as the rate at which you burn calories while resting.
A small 2018 study found that participants who drank various measures of coffee over the course of two months had greater metabolites, a product of metabolism. A higher or faster metabolism will allow you to burn more calories at rest or during physical activity, which may help lead to weight loss.
“There is a growing body of research on how coffee consumption is positively associated with BMR, however it’s important to keep in mind that we metabolize foods and beverages at different rates. Coffee may increase one person’s metabolic rate but not another,” Shaw says.
Caffeine may decrease feelings of hunger. Appetite is influenced by a variety of factors, including the type of food you eat, physical activity levels, and hormones. While there is not sufficient research to determine a cause-effect relationship for caffeine reducing appetite, studies have shown that it may reduce levels of ghrelin, the hormone that makes you feel hungry.
A small 2014 study found that participants increased feelings of fullness and reduced their food intake just within four weeks of drinking coffee daily based on their ghrelin levels.
“Caffeine also stimulates the satiety hormone peptide YY (PYY). More PYY means you will feel satiated and less hungry,” Shaw says.
Coffee can also be unhealthy and lead to weight gain
Coffee has many benefits that promote weight loss, but there are potential drawbacks, Shaw says. Here are some of the downsides of coffee to be mindful when incorporating it in your diet:
Some coffee drinks contain lots of calories and sugar. When drinking coffee for weight loss, it’s best to avoid adding calories to your drink. It may be tempting to add milk or sugar into your coffee, but these can quickly add calories to your drink, Shaw says.
Many popular coffee drinks are already high in calories, including Starbucks’ very own Mocha Frappuccino® and Caramel Macchiato which contain 370 and 250 calories, respectively. Consuming more calories than your normal intake prevents you from achieving a calorie deficit for weight loss and instead leads to weight gain, Shaw says.
Caffeine can reduce sleep. Poor sleep is often linked to increased appetite and hunger, specifically for high-calorie foods. Studies have attributed lack of sleep to an increase of ghrelin, the hormone that regulates feelings of hunger, which can result in greater calorie consumption and weight gain.
“The caffeine found in coffee blocks adenosine receptors that bring on drowsiness, causing you to feel more awake. I suggest cutting off your caffeine at least six to seven hours before bedtime for quality sleep and hormone regulation,” Shaw says.
How to drink coffee for weight loss
To receive the health benefits of coffee and achieve weight loss, Shaw recommends drinking no more than four 8-oz cups of coffee a day, which equates to 400mg of caffeine.
“Four cups of coffee a day allows the benefits of feeling more awake and better fat metabolism while not being too much to impact sleep and hunger,” Shaw says. Drinking a cup every couple of hours would be reasonable to feel the lasting effects in each interval, she says.
However, if you like strong coffee, drink fewer cups accordingly to get no more than 400mg of caffeine per day. “Coffee that is identified as ‘strong’ is higher in caffeine content because there is a greater concentration of coffee per serving of water,” Shaw says.
Black coffee is best for weight loss as it does not contain added sugars or fats that can contribute to weight gain, Shaw says. However, if you like your coffee sweet, here are some low-calorie alternative sweeteners to use:
- Fruit-based sweeteners like erythritol or monk fruit extract
- Plant-based sweeteners like stevia and yacon syrup
- Sugar alcohols like xylitol and maltitol
If you are new to drinking black coffee, it may be helpful to reduce your pumps of sweetener until you get used to the bitter taste. If you have a sensitive stomach, it’s best to eat food alongside your coffee as this acidic drink may cause gastric distress, says Shaw. Too much stress on your digestive system can cause weight gain, she says.
Overall, coffee is an energy-boosting beverage with numerous health benefits. The few calories and caffeine content in the drink can help with weight loss.
However, it is important to be mindful of what and how much you drink. Consume coffee beverages that are low in calories by minimizing added sugars and fat content in your drink. Make sure you are having no more than 400mg of caffeine a day — and avoid it several hours before bedtime.
Coffee impacts everyone differently. The effect it has on you may not be the effect it has on someone else. To determine the healthiest weight loss plan for your needs, consult your healthcare provider.