Can Green Coffee Help You Lose Weight?
Green coffee extract is touted as an aid to lose weight, but our research shows that science is divided. Read the results and more.
Some can barely get out of bed without it. Some advocate avoiding it for the sake of kicking an addictive habit that can affect sleep quality. Love it or loathe it, coffee provides caffeine that can jolt the sluggish into productive mode, soften the impact of whiny children, and make crossing items off the to-do list bearable.
Whether you consider the bitter, aromatic brew vital or revolting, will an every-morning (and possibly afternoon) cuppa curtail efforts to trim down, or can coffee help you lose weight?
Green coffee extract and green coffee beans contain components that may be helpful to those trying to shed pounds, but the peer-reviewed research is far from conclusive and human studies tend to be small and limited.
Green Coffee and Weight Loss
Green coffee is coffee beans that haven’t been roasted and have higher amounts of chlorogenic acid compared to roasted coffee beans. Research suggests that chlorogenic acid may have antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-cancer properties<sup>1</sup> as well as a potentially positive impact on metabolism.
A review of multiple studies suggests that components of coffee, such as chlorogenic acid and quinides, could contribute to weight loss<sup>2</sup> and reduction in diabetes risk—but only in study participants who lost weight during the trial. The same review also points out another study that showed a modest, inverse association with weight gain<sup>3</sup> in those who drank caffeinated coffee.
One scientific review of clinical trials and a meta-analysis found that participants who consumed 81 to 400mg of green coffee for 4–12 weeks lost between 2 and 17 pounds<sup>4</sup>. That said, reviewers noted that all studies included had limitations and none were in compliance with U.S. FDA guidelines.
One study on patients with metabolic syndrome found that 800mg of decaf green coffee bean extract taken every day for two months was associated with smaller waist measurements and reduced appetite<sup>5</sup>.
While the scientific evidence appears divided on whether coffee, decaf or caffeinated, can help you lose weight and decrease diabetes risk, one study appears promising for team coffee when it comes to weight loss maintenance.
Scientists compared the daily coffee consumption of nearly 500 participants who had lost weight and 2,000 regular-population coffee drinkers. They found that weight loss maintainers drank more coffee and caffeinated drinks<sup>6</sup> than the control group. These results don’t reveal the strongest association between coffee and weight loss maintenance, but that won’t make the coffee fiends step out of line at their local coffee shop.
Whether you want to savor the iconic drink to ease into the day or sip a cold brew to fuel a productive afternoon, it’s important to note that roasted coffee beans and grounds contain various amounts of chlorogenic acid (CGA) and a high amount of roasting appears to have a detrimental impact on CGA content<sup>7</sup>.
Coffee and Weight Loss Tips
We’re big on n=1 experiments at Signos. If you’re already a member or are Signos-curious, you might be too. While scientific research conducted in the human population doesn’t definitively associate coffee with weight loss, if you enjoy the bitter brew, why not conduct some anecdotal research?
If you want to test whether CGA and other compounds of coffee can help your weight loss program, you may want to sip a green coffee infusion<sup>8</sup>, pop a green coffee extract supplement<sup>9</sup>, or gently heat green coffee powder with water. Green coffee tastes more like a grassy, acidic herbal tea than the robust, toasty, more nuanced brew made with roasted coffee beans.
Be mindful that there’s no silver bullet when it comes to weight loss. Don’t expect to trade green coffee extract for working out, for example. A well-rounded weight loss plan includes appropriate portions of mostly whole, low-glycemic foods with very little added sugars and processed foods, regular physical activity, and daily effort to manage stress and get enough quality sleep.
If you’re a die-hard roasted coffee drinker, you don’t have to give it up. When you’re trying to lose weight, strive to optimize your calories. Get them from nutrient-dense, high-quality real foods and avoid excess calories from drinks, including coffee.
Follow our tips to enjoy coffee when you’re watching your weight:
1. Skip Sugary Coffee Drinks
Cut the frappe, blended, and sugar-sweetened coffee drinks. Some comparative analysis: A 16-ounce vanilla frappuccino from Starbucks<sup>10</sup> contains 400 calories and 64 grams of sugar; a medium, 16-ounce vanilla milkshake from McDonald’s<sup>11</sup> has 610 calories and 68 grams of sugar. They’re both desserts and provide little nutritional value aside from the protein in the milk used.
2. Drink It Black or With No-Additive Cream
Acquire a taste for drinking your coffee black or tinged with a bit of organic cream, half and half, or nut milk (some brands of dairy and nut milk products can contain additives and preservatives that you may not want so read labels closely).
3. Avoid Fatty Coffee Drinks
If intermittent fasting works for you, try to avoid “extending” your fasting window by sipping butter- and oil-rich keto coffee drinks. Technically, the higher-than-black calories in keto coffee will break your fast. An eight-ounce cup of black coffee<sup>12</sup> contains just two calories, whereas eight ounces of keto coffee<sup>13</sup> has 251 calories.
Keto biohacker Dave Asprey started a trend for butter or keto coffee—grass-fed butter or ghee and MCT oil blended with coffee—as a breakfast replacement. Bulletproof coffee contains 230 calories<sup>14</sup> per eight-ounce cup.
That’s 40 more calories than a latte made with whole milk that’s twice the size. Granted, the Starbucks latte<sup>15</sup> contains 18 grams of sugar from lactose (milk sugar) but it also contains 13 grams of protein; the bulletproof coffee has 0 grams of sugar and 0 grams of protein. Neither drink contains more nutritional benefits, aside from the antioxidants found in the coffee<sup>16</sup>.
Similar to the example of coffee made craveable with a lot of added sugar, coffee made with a lot of fat adds more calories than you need when you’re trying to lose weight without a whole lot of nutrition.
How Does Coffee Impact Glucose?
Coffee with added sugar won’t benefit your waistline or blood sugar, but does coffee by itself impact your glucose response?
Several studies report that green coffee and its extract (taken in pill or powder form) can improve fasting blood glucose, serum levels of insulin, and triglycerides<sup>17</sup>. Significant improvement in other markers of lipid profiles was observed in some females.
A study on patients with impaired glucose tolerance found that a group that received 1,200mg of chlorogenic acid every day for 12 weeks decreased their fasting blood glucose and insulin secretion, and showed increased insulin sensitivity<sup>18</sup>.
Another study on 15 overweight men found that chlorogenic acid and trigonelline, a plant compound found in coffee beans, significantly reduced early glucose and insulin responses<sup>19</sup> during an oral glucose tolerance test.
While other studies of caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee consumption suggest that both may reduce the risk of diabetes, there are some studies that show a reduction in glucose tolerance<sup>20</sup> after drinking coffee.
<p class="pro-tip">Read the full article, Does Coffee Raise Blood Sugar?</p>
Coffee: Buzzworthy or Not?
So long as you enjoy it in moderation—meaning about four cups or less per day—coffee can be an enjoyable part of your morning or afternoon routine. Green coffee appears to have more of the antioxidant-rich, glucose-lowering qualities than roasted coffee beans, but that doesn’t mean you have to switch to green coffee to reap some benefits.
If you want to drop pounds, the published research on humans raises skepticism on green coffee extract’s ability to boost weight loss. The best advice we can give: Don’t gild the lily by indulging in fatty keto coffee or sugary coffee milkshakes; drink either roasted or green coffee plain or with a bit of regular or nut milk.
If you’re curious, you can try green coffee, either as a DIY brew or in supplement form, to see if it helps your weight loss efforts. Make sure to talk to your doctor or nutritionist before you try any new supplements.
Be wary of how caffeine affects your body. Some can be sensitive to coffee’s acidity, others can drink cup after cup without visible side effects, some have to cut off caffeine by noon or else it affects their sleep, and others report jitters or irritability when they drink caffeine.