Very few people need to be encouraged to down their morning coffee. In fact, most of us are trying to cut back on our daily caffeine intake, taking a more health-conscious approach. However, new research suggests drinking coffee is beneficial for weight loss.
Anyone pursuing weight loss for their health knows that it is no simple feat, generally involving strict lifestyle changes, strict diets and strict workout schedules. But while most experts would encourage us to cut out our favourite guilty pleasures, the latest research suggests one of our favourites, our daily cup of coffee, might actually benefit our weight loss pursuit.
However, the recommendation comes with a stipulation. To reap the benefits of your morning cuppa, you need to drink straight black coffee. That means no sweeteners (including honey and stevia), and no plant-based, low-fat, or good ol’ regular cow’s milk.
According to the findings of a study recently published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition regular consumption of unsweetened coffee can be associated with a small amount of weight loss.
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Can coffee cause weight loss?
The findings are a result of a three-study review, comparing the weight loss results of participants whose diet involved drinking either sweetened or unsweetened coffee.
To be clear, the participants in the study who drank unsweetened coffee didn’t shed an amount of weight worthy of a new wardrobe. On average, the study found that drinking one cup of unsweetened coffee per day was associated with a loss of 0.12 kg of body weight over approximately four years.
On the flip side, while the study is cause for celebration amongst the community of long-black drinkers, sweet coffee addicts may need to reassess their morning order.
“The findings raise questions of a potentially even more detrimental impact on weight by commercial coffee drinks with higher amounts of added sugar,” the study authors write.
The study found drinking your morning cup of coffee with a spoonful of sweetener added in was found to have an adverse effect, with participants commonly experiencing 0.09 kg of weight gain over a four-year period.
Before you swap out your gym membership for a Starbucks loyalty card, it’s important to understand just how minuscule the effect of either unsweetened or sweetened coffee is on weight loss.
“You’d have to drink three cups a day to lose just one pound over four years!” Says Beata Rydyger, a registered nutritionist not directly involved in the study.
Additionally, when it comes to instances of weight gain, Rydger says you shouldn’t necessarily be cutting out your favourite order.
“Participants gained only 0.09 kg for each teaspoon of sugar they added to their daily coffee so the risk of putting on any serious belly fat is only a risk for people who add a lot of sugar to their coffees,” she says.
Moderation is key to healthy weight management
Unfortunately, sustainable weight loss never comes down to a quick fix, but instead results from a combination of thoughtful nutrition and physical activity, carefully tailored to each individual’s lifestyle.
“To ensure balanced coffee consumption, individuals should aim for moderation, typically limiting themselves to three to four cups, or around 400 mg, of caffeine per day,” explains Rydyger.
Moreover, the nutritionist urges us to consider how our individual body metabolises caffeine, reminding us that we all have different tolerance to the substance before we start feeling jittery or anxious.
“Excessive coffee intake can lead to sleep disturbances, digestive issues, potential impacts on bone and heart health, and heightened anxiety in some individuals,” the nutritionist says.
“Considering the timing, avoiding coffee in the late afternoon or evening can prevent disruptions in sleep,” she adds. “It’s also essential to account for all sources of caffeine, including tea, chocolate, energy drinks and certain medications.”