PT on the Net Research

Caffeine and Weight Loss


Question:

I've been reading about the relationship between hormones, caffeine and weight management. Can you recommend any additional readings or places to research this interrelationship and how ingesting caffeine affects weight gain/loss?

Answer:

For more than 20 years, researchers have studied the effect of caffeine on lipolysis (release of free fatty acids from adipose tissue), which in turn could be used for energy during endurance activities. However, caffeine can bring about many side effects such as diuresis, fibrocystic breast disease, cardiac arrhythmias, etc. Also, in order to enhance lipolysis, the individual would have to ingest several cups of caffeine per day (four to five or more). As the individual becomes more and more tolerant to caffeine, larger doses would probably be necessary.

Coffee does not have any/enough calories to induce any weight gain. Due to the many side effects listed above and to the fact that lipolysis will mainly occur during endurance activities and not necessarily at rest (unless under stressful environments such as starvation, anorexia etc.), the use of caffeine to enhance weight loss should not be considered. In terms of weight loss, it all boils down to how much is taken in and how much is going out. A 500 kcal deficit per day is pretty safe (250 kcal from food and 250 kcal from exercise) and recommended by most organizations.

Resources:

  1. American Dietetic Association: www.eatright.org
  2. Tufts University Nutrition Navigator: www.navigator.tufts.org
  3. Sensible Nutrition Connection: www.sensiblenutrition.com
  4. Food and Nutrition Information Center: www.nal.usda.gov/fnic