Much before ‘green tea’ became the go-to weight-loss beverage in the world of health and fitness, the position was somewhat dominated by coffee, black to be precise. Over the years, there’s been much speculation related to coffee’s role in weight-loss, if it is effective at all? Then we have also witnessed the emergence of the likes of ‘bullet-proof’ coffee and ‘green coffee’ that managed to create their own stir, with their purported ‘miraculous benefits’ on one’s waistline. However, the question still remains. Is coffee a good addition to your weight-loss regimen? If yes, then how much coffee should you drink in a day? Is drinking coffee enough in itself, or do you also need to complement it with a certain workout? We chatted up with some experts who explained the link.  

As we all know, the chief compound of coffee is caffeine and caffeine is a stimulant. It is naturally present in coffee beans. Coffee is one of the most commonly consumed morning beverages throughout the world. These days many energy drinks are added with caffeine. “Caffeine increases the alertness, concentration and focus that helps to do workouts more actively and thus helps to burn more fat and calories. The recommended daily allowance of caffeine by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is up to 400 mg, which means 3 to 4 small cups of coffee in a day for adults. Caffeine can increase workout performance. High doses of caffeine should be avoided. Drinking black coffee in moderation will give you less calories and helps to lose weight as you are skipping milk and sugar. Avoid drinking coffee at least 3-4 hours before bed,” says Dt V Krishna Deepika, Senior Clinical Dietician, Apollo Hospitals, Kondapur, Hyderabad.  

According to Sharanya Shastry, Chief Clinical Nutritionist, Apollo Spectra, Koramangala, Bengaluru - nutrition makes a small but potentially valuable contribution to successful performance in athletes, enhancing weight loss and for general overall health. Hence, one must always strive to strike a balance between one’s diet and one’s workout.  

Source: Shutterstock

Speaking of caffeine, she says, “A typical cup of coffee consists of 75-100 mg of caffeine. Just to bring it to your attention, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in its report, titled ‘Scientific Opinion on the Safety of Caffeine’, concluded that habitual intakes of caffeine up to 400 mg per day do not give rise to safety concerns for non-pregnant adults.” So, caffeine in itself is not something to be feared. However, one should be mindful of the amount. 

Elaborating on the same, she talks about how “there is no evidence that caffeine causes significant weight loss, but it may help to boost energy if one is feeling fatigued from restricting caloric intake, and may reduce appetite temporarily”. 

Caffeine stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, which plays a role in suppressing hunger, enhancing satiety, and increasing the breakdown of fat cells to be used for energy. “Cohort studies consisting of large groups of people suggest that a higher caffeine intake is associated with slightly lower rates of weight gain in the long term. However, the problems that arise with excess coffee consumption are the extra added sugar/sweetener, calories coming from milk/cream. This can lead to a substantial amount of weight gain. Thus, anything in moderation will favour your health more than following the fad/on-going trends that confuse and complicate your system. So yes, 2 cups of coffee (150 ml each) will keep you fresh and alert enough to read this article too,” she adds.  

Abhishek Chatterjee - General Manager, SWITCH Wellness, CPT ACSM - pointed out how coffee could possibly result in a potential increase in fat oxidation. He said that some studies indicate that consumption of coffee before exercise is linked with an increase in fat burning. “Previously, it was believed to be because of increased physical performance, but recent studies suggest fat oxidation is a property of caffeine and not always associated with performance. Also, fat burn depends on the level of caffeine. Moderation must be practised,” he says.  

High doses of caffeine should be avoided at all costs. It may do more harm than good. Drinking black coffee in moderation may lead to less calorie intake and help you lose weight as you are skipping milk and sugar. “Avoid drinking coffee at least 3 to 4 hours before bed,” cautions Dt Deepika.