TL;DR Caffeine does boost your metabolism and this article explains the science behind this. However, while this may sound like good news, there are key things to remember, especially in light of drinking coffee to "lose weight."
Caffeine has been known for its several benefits – from something so simple as helping you get over that afternoon slump, to lowered risk of Type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s and heart disease.
And for those wanting to lose weight, listen up!
Caffeine can also INCREASE METABOLISM.
Yes, you read that right. In fact, increased metabolism is observed for up to three hours after consuming 8 mg/kg of coffee (1).
So how exactly does the magic happen?
To understand how this works, there are three main substances in coffee that accelerate metabolism:
These substances have a significant role to play in how our body takes in sugar and carbohydrates:
Think of it this way: when people say “coffee boosts metabolism,” they also actually mean...
coffee can help our body slow down the absorption of sugars and carbohydrates.
Music to the ears, isn’t it? To understand how this happens, you need to know the hormone called epinephrine, which is commonly known as adrenaline.
As caffeine travels through the nervous system –
However, the presence of fatty acids in your blood doesn’t automatically mean losing weight.
You need to burn more calories than you consume (which almost sounds like common sense, to be honest). You can achieve this by either maintaining a HEALTHY DIET or sticking to REGULAR WORKOUT.
Here’s where caffeine enters the picture...
Research shows that drinking coffee before a workout helps burn more fat than going without it (11). Caffeine increases energy levels during physical exercise and leads to increased endurance.
People who drink coffee before hitting the gym find themselves working harder and longer, burning more calories. (To learn more about this, check out our article on why caffeine before a workout is a good idea.)
The point is, although it helps, caffeine consumption alone doesn’t burn fat. You need to mix it up with a healthy diet and a regular exercise regimen.
Your body naturally burns calories in order to function properly. And having a fast metabolism means being able to burn calories more efficiently and – wait for it – lose weight faster.
How’s this possible? Two words:
The higher the metabolic rate, the faster the metabolism. Losing weight becomes easier. Eating more and not gaining weight takes less effort.
There are two types of metabolic rate (12):
With all this caffeine talk, we’ll shine a spotlight on the second one, the RMR.
Keep in mind though that caffeine’s ability to increase metabolism depends on factors like:
While caffeine has been proven to boost metabolism, it’s important to note that the reasons are NOT absolute. There are caveats that we need to keep in mind:
While caffeine is shown to contribute to weight loss and increased metabolism, having more caffeine doesn’t necessarily translate to burning more calories. The metabolic effects are based on certain factors, observed in studies only in the short-term, and are shown to diminish over time. Plus, consuming more than you’re supposed to can lead to adverse effects.
It’s always good measure to keep your coffee or caffeine consumption in check and avoid caffeine just for the sake of losing weight. If you watch your caffeine intake you can keep enjoying each cup (or mint!) and embrace the added health benefits.
If you want to learn more about not just caffeine's effect on metabolism but also the role genetics plays on metabolising caffeine, here's a video by wellness guru Thomas DeLauer:
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Is there a big difference between synthetic and natural caffeine? Which gives a stronger jolt? Does it even matter?
Natural caffeine in coffee, tea, and chocolate is much less common than the synthetic caffeine found in so many other products.
Caffeine is found in plant species such as the more popular ones like Coffea arabica and Coffea robusta, as well as tea leaves, kola nuts, cacao beans, Yerba mate and guarana berries.
Not only does naturally-occurring caffeine from said plants keep your cognitive functions at their peak, but it also contains antioxidants that help you fight illnesses like cancer and Alzheimer’s.