Is Your Coffee Making You Fat?

“Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.”

– John F. Kennedy

Is Your Coffee Making You Fat?

Caffeine has been discussed extensively in regards to health, sports performance and weight loss. Caffeine (in the form of coffee) is one of the most widely used substances in the world (Desbrow et all). The amount of caffeine varies widely in different drinks and foods (and even within cups of coffee – across different coffee beans and how it’s prepared). So how much is too much and does it actually effect performance and fat loss?

First, it’s important to understand how much you are consuming. Desbrow et all explains that coffee drinking is increasing, and it is hard to get a specific value on the caffeine amounts in each coffee, as the regulations state the manufactures are not required to state the caffeine concentrations for naturally occurring caffeine. So how much coffee are you drinking? The main finding of their study concluded the caffeine content (in coffee) was highly variable (50 mg – 150mg) and could result in higher than anticipated caffeine intakes (>120 mg).

For Performance:
Caffeine has been seen to aid performances in some sports – sprint and endurance events (Hodgson et all (2013). Desbrow et all (2012), however has suggested that the amounts required are quite large and are required at least 1 hr prior to exercise.

For Fat loss:
There are many thoughts on caffeine and how it will affect your weight. Many people will tell you a key factor in preventing fat loss is the amount of caffeine (coffee) you have. It is said by many people that coffee will actually increase your cortisol levels and prevent you from losing fat.

However there are many studies showing that caffeine use can actually aid in fat loss benefits. Astrup et all (1992) found that caffeine use (200mg/day) in obese women promoted greater loss of body fat and less fat free mass loss. And Boozer et all (2012) studied the long term use of caffeine for fat loss and found it promoted fat loss without any significant adverse events.

Although it may seem beneficial, there are some limitations and restrictions to caffeine and high caffeine exposure which can be harmful to some population groups (such as women of reproductive age, to children, and the ageing population). So next time you are cutting foods to help regulate your diet, caffeine may not be the enemy you thought. As a tip, you may want to look at your sugar and milk amounts in the coffee.

Asker Jeukendrup


Astrup, A. Buemann, B. Christensen, N. Toubro, S. Thorbek, G. Victor, O. Quaade, F (1992) The effect of ephedrine/caffeine mixture on energy expenditure and body composition in obese women. Metabolism Clinical and Experimental 41 (7) 686-688

Boozer, C. Daly, P. Homel, P. Solomon, J. Blanchard, D. Nasser, J. Strauss. R. Meredith, T (2002) Herbal ephedra/caffeine for weight loss: a 6-month randomized safety and efficacy trial. International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders: Journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity. 26(5):593-604

Desbrow, B. Henry, M. Scheelings, P. ()An examination of consumer exposure to caffeine from commercial coffee and coffee-flavoured milk.

Hodgson, A. Randell, R. Jeukendrup, A (2013) The Metabolic and Performance Effects of Caffeine Compared to Coffee during Endurance Exercise. Plos One 8(4)

Desbrow, B. Biddulph, C. Devlin, B. Grant, G. Anoopkumar-Dukie, S. (2012) The effects of different doses of caffeine on endurance cycling time trial performance. Journal of sports sciences 30: 115–120

Margriet S. Westerterp-Plantenga, Manuela P.G.M. Lejeune, and Eva M. R. Kovacs (2005) Body Weight Loss and Weight Maintenance in Relation to Habitual Caffeine Intake and Green Tea Supplementation. OBESITY RESEARCH Vol. 13 No. 7

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