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It’s true that too much caffeine can make you feel anxious and may negatively impact people with high blood pressure.
But it usually only becomes a problem if you overdo it.
The Mayo Clinic says that up to 400mg of caffeine a day appears to be safe for most healthy adults. That’s roughly the amount of caffeine in four cups of brewed coffee.
What some people may still not realize, though, is that coffee, including caffeine, offers tremendous health benefits.
It can help reduce “bad” cholesterol. It may also play a role in reducing the risk of diabetes, stroke and heart failure. And one 10-year study reported that people who drank four cups of coffee daily had a 64 percent reduced risk of dying from any cause, and this was especially true for individuals older than 45.
Now it’s looking like we might be able to add reducing weight gain to the list…
An extra cup of coffee helps keep some weight off
Researchers combined data from three large studies: two Nurses’ Health Studies from 1986 to 2010, and from 1991 to 2015, and a Health Professional Follow-up Study from 1991 to 2014.
The Nurses’ Health Studies, which investigate chronic disease risks for women. are two of the largest cohort studies with more than 230,000 participants. The Health Professional Follow-up study involves more than 50,000 male health professionals and investigates the relationship between diet and health outcomes.
Participants completed a questionnaire to assess any changes in their food and drink intake every four years. Coffee consumption (and how they took their coffee) was tracked as well as their weight.
The average four-year weight gain for the participants in the two nurses’ studies was 1.2kg (2.65 lbs.) and 1.7kg (3.75 lbs.), while participants in the health professionals study gained an average of 0.8kg (1.7 lbs).
But people who drank one extra cup of unsweetened caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee saw a small reduction in weight of 0.12 kilograms or about a quarter pound.
Is it worth it?
The small amount of weight gain averted by drinking one additional cup of unsweetened coffee was small. If you’re looking to lose a significant amount of weight, that may be disappointing.
However, it may be just the thing to avoid the incremental weight gain that creeps up on most of us as we age. On average, women in their 50s and 60s gain 1.5 pounds per year.
So does the information gleaned in this study warrant increasing your coffee habit?
If you increase caffeinated coffee, you need to consider that caffeine is a stimulant which is believed to be why it may temporarily reduce appetite and increase alertness — but you don’t want the jitters.
Caffeine has also been shown to speed up our metabolism, which causes more energy to be burned while resting.
Caffeine may stimulate brown adipose tissue, which can lead to weight loss. But it’s also been found to affect the taste buds in a way that increases sugar cravings.
The study did not take into account the varying amounts of caffeine in coffee or make any recommendations.
But since this study saw the incremental weight loss in both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee (and is not the first to do so), caffeine may not be as important as the fact that coffee in general is a warm satisfying beverage capable of creating a feeling of fullness — and that alone may help curb appetite, even if just a little.
It’s important to note that almost as many studies that have shown coffee promotes weight loss, have also shown it hinders weight loss. So if weight would be your only reason for starting a coffee habit, I’d reconsider — unless a cup of unsweetened coffee will take the place of sugar-sweetened beverages that could contribute to weight and worse.
But if you already enjoy a couple of cups a day, there’s still much to be gained as far as health benefits by drinking your coffee.
And don’t forget, the weight reduction in this study was seen in people not adding sugar and cream to their coffee.
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Changes in Coffee Intake, Added Sugar and Long-Term Weight Gain – Results from Three Large Prospective US Cohort Studies — The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Can coffee help you avoid weight gain? Here’s what the science says — The Conversation
Caffeine: How much is too much? — Mayo Clinic