Does Coffee Make You Gain Weight?

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Does Coffee Make You Gain Weight?

Coffee is a popular beverage that you’d probably drink health benefits or not. But with research suggesting it could impair glucose tolerance, increase insulin resistance, and cause you to gain weight, you may need to dig deeper. Your best bet to avoid caloric coffee pitfalls is to leave out the cream and sugar and have no more than 400 mg (3-4 cups) of caffeine per day.

Coffee is that perfect pick-me-up, and powers so many lives the world over. The caffeine kick is exactly what you need when your energy is ebbing, and it’s quick and easy to whip up anytime, anywhere. But reports that it could cause weight gain may now put a spanner in the works.

Weight Gain From Coffee

Coffee, when consumed in large quantities could actually be counterproductive to your weight loss efforts, if latest reports are to be believed. An Australian study revealed that CGA(chlorogenic acid), a polyphenol found in coffee could prevent fat loss from your body. It could even cause insulin resistance to develop. The research that made coffee lovers and the research community sit up, suggested that coffee’s benefits may be connected to how much you drink. While moderate amounts of up to three or four cups a day might even help lower cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes risk, having just a couple more (five to six) can cause you to see problems like insulin resistance and higher levels of glucose intolerance.1 When test animals were fed a high fat diet along with CGA, not only did they not lose weight, but they actually developed insulin resistance and saw more lipid accumulation in the liver than mice not given CGA.2

Reduced Glucose Tolerance And Insulin Resistance

The issue with caffeine intake is possibly the glucose intolerance it is said to cause immediately after being consumed.3 Unfortunately, impaired glucose tolerance is one of the high risk factors for type 2 diabetes to develop.4 When your body struggles to manage its sugar levels and insulin levels properly, as with a person who has diabetes, it is easy to gain weight. Coffee’s connect to insulin resistance is also a potential problem, because metabolism hormone insulin is responsible for regulating blood sugar levels, appetite control, and even fat storage. If you have too much insulin in your body, your food begins to get stored as fat cells – bad news for those trying to lose weight or stay fit.5

The Stress-Sleep-Weight Gain Nexus

What coffee can do to your body, is keep you alert and “buzzing” making it difficult to fall asleep. With reduced sleep time, your cortisol or stress hormone levels rise. Now increased stress levels and reduced sleep have both been connected to weight gain in various pieces of research, and that could well be why some people notice weight gain linked to coffee consumption.6 A cup of coffee with about 400 mg of caffeine in it(a 16 oz cup has around 500 mg) as early as six hours before bedtime can be disruptive to sleep.7 Chronic sleep deprivation can make you feel more tired and hungry and make you eat more as appetite and satiety controlling hormones like ghrelin spike during the day.8

Consuming over 200 mg of caffeine can also worsen anxiety for those already predisposed to it and bring on a negative mood that could also meddle with sleep.9 Added to that is the fact that caffeine consumption can cause your body to produce cortisol even when it is not under any real stress. So that cup of coffee could effectively simulate stress responses in your body and worsen sleeping trouble.10 Reason enough to watch how much you’re having!

Is It The Coffee Or What’s With It?

If coffee on its own isn’t the offending substance, then it could be due to what you have in your coffee that you’re gaining weight. If you knock back several large cups a day, then the sugar or milk you add to it could also be pushing your weight up. Just one spoon of sugar has about 16 kcal11, half a cup of reduced fat 2% milk has 50 kcal12 Switching to black coffee without sugar might help, or cutting back on the amount of sugar you consume in each cup and trading in regular whole milk for skim or low fat variants.

Not Everyone Agrees

So coffee may be linked to weight gain. Yet, evidence to the contrary exists in other studies evaluating the effect of coffee on weight gain. In one piece of research where the effects of coffee intake on adolescent girls were studied, researchers found no impact from drinking the beverage(as opposed to alcohol consumption which was linked to weight gain). Another study using data from food diaries kept between ages 9 and 19 by girls participating in the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Growth and Health Study13 too found similar results with coffee not being implicated in weight gain. Researchers went as far as to suggest that coffee might even help with weight loss.14 In general, caffeine is seen as a thermogenic ingredient that can actually help boost your metabolism and could even help to prevent obesity.15

How Much Is Okay?

For normal healthy adults, having up to 400 mg of caffeine a day should be fine, taken in single doses of under 200 mg at a time. However, do keep in mind the possible effects on your sleep and keep a good distance between that last cuppa and bedtime, or switch to a decaf version.16 And as the researchers in the Australian study say, it is the dosage that makes all the difference, so avoid crossing the 3 to 4 cups a day levels at any cost.

References   [ + ]

1. The right amount of coffee. The University of Western Australia.
2. Mubarak, Aidilla, Jonathan M. Hodgson, Michael J. Considine, Kevin D. Croft, and Vance B. Matthews. “Supplementation of a high-fat diet with chlorogenic acid is associated with insulin resistance and hepatic lipid accumulation in mice.” Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 61, no. 18 (2013): 4371-4378.
3. Greenberg, James A., Carol N. Boozer, and Allan Geliebter. “Coffee, diabetes, and weight control.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 84, no. 4 (2006): 682-693.
4. Nathan, David M., Mayer B. Davidson, Ralph A. Defronzo, Robert J. Heine, Robert R. Henry, Richard Pratley, and Bernard Zinman. “Impaired fasting glucose and impaired glucose tolerance implications for care.” Diabetes care 30, no. 3 (2007): 753-759.
5. “Upper” Limits The Value of Caffeine in Weight-loss. Obesity Action Colation.
6, 14. Berkey, Catherine S., Helaine RH Rockett, and Graham A. Colditz. “Weight gain in older adolescent females: the internet, sleep, coffee, and alcohol.” The Journal of pediatrics 153, no. 5 (2008): 635-639.
7. Drake, Christopher, Timothy Roehrs, John Shambroom, and Thomas Roth. “Caffeine effects on sleep taken 0, 3, or 6 hours before going to bed.” J Clin Sleep Med 9, no. 11 (2013): 1195-1200.
8. Taheri, Shahrad, Ling Lin, Diane Austin, Terry Young, and Emmanuel Mignot. “Short sleep duration is associated with reduced leptin, elevated ghrelin, and increased body mass index.” PLoS Med 1, no. 3 (2004): e62.
9. Caffeine Dependence. Johns Hopkins Medicine.
10. Lovallo, William R., Thomas L. Whitsett, Mustafa al’Absi, Bong Hee Sung, Andrea S. Vincent, and Michael F. Wilson. “Caffeine stimulation of cortisol secretion across the waking hours in relation to caffeine intake levels.” Psychosomatic medicine 67, no. 5 (2005): 734.
11. Sugars, granulated. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28 .
12. Milk, reduced fat, fluid, 2% milkfat. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28 .
13. Striegel-Moore, Ruth H., Douglas Thompson, Sandra G. Affenito, Debra L. Franko, Eva Obarzanek, Bruce A. Barton, George B. Schreiber, Stephen R. Daniels, Marcia Schmidt, and Patricia B. Crawford. “Correlates of beverage intake in adolescent girls: the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Growth and Health Study.” The Journal of pediatrics 148, no. 2 (2006): 183-187.
15. Westerterp-Plantenga, Margriet, Kristel Diepvens, Annemiek MCP Joosen, Sonia Bérubé-Parent, and Angelo Tremblay. “Metabolic effects of spices, teas, and caffeine.” Physiology & Behavior 89, no. 1 (2006): 85-91.
16. Guidelines on caffeine intake. The Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee.
CureJoy Editorial

The CureJoy Editorial team digs up credible information from multiple sources, both academic and experiential, to stitch a holistic health perspective on topics that pique our readers' interest.

CureJoy Editorial

The CureJoy Editorial team digs up credible information from multiple sources, both academic and experiential, to stitch a holistic health perspective on topics that pique our readers' interest.