Coffee: An effective weight loss tool

Can coffee play a role in helping people to lose weight and reduce the risk of adult-onset diabetes? That seems to be the case, according to a number of studies reported in medical journals.

One clinical study published in the scientific French review Phytothérapie demonstrated fat-reducing effects of a green (non-roasted) coffee bean extract. One group of volunteers was given 400 mg of a decaffeinated green coffee extract daily, and the second group received a placebo.  After 60 days of supplementation, participants who received the green coffee extract had lost 5.7 percent of their initial weight.  By contrast, the group that received a placebo had lost 2.8 percent of their initial weight.

While this study does not show the kind of rapid weight loss touted by many diet fads, it does point to a steady decrease in weight as a result of the use of green coffee extract. Furthermore, since the extract was decaffeinated, the weight loss does not appear to be due to a calorie-burning effect noted with caffeine.

Coffee, one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world, contains a plethora of naturally-occurring compounds, including several classes of antioxidants. Coffee is already known to be a preventive factor against mild depression, Parkinson’s disease, and colon and rectal cancers. Now it appears that compounds in coffee also help to regulate blood glucose, reduce fat production, and enable steady weight loss.

The compounds responsible for the weight-controlling effects of coffee are antioxidants known collectively as the chlorogenic acids. These acids appear to slow the production of glucose in the body after a meal, by modifying the activity of certain enzymes in the liver. Additionally, the chlorogenic acids cause a more slow and sustained release of glucose into the body after eating, thereby reducing the production of new fat cells.

This process sheds favorable light on the practice of drinking an espresso after a meal. Espresso, made by steam expressing finely ground coffee, is rich in flavor and aroma and chlorogenic acids, but not very concentrated at all in caffeine.  Drinking an espresso after eating causes a suppression of glucose production and release, in addition to causing the body to produce more gastric juices, which aids digestion.

Furthermore, coffee also appears to act as a preventive factor in type 2 diabetes. In one Harvard University in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers found that drinking coffee daily reduces the risk of the disease. In another study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers from Amsterdam concluded that regular coffee consumption is associated with considerably lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. And yet another study conducted in the Netherlands showed a direct connection between coffee consumption and lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

What conclusions can we draw from this work? For a start, coffee with lots of cream and sugar will do little to control weight or prevent diabetes, due to the load of calories in such a beverage. But black coffee, espresso, coffee with a small amount of milk, or a green coffee bean supplement all appear to support weight reduction and lower rates of diabetes. In the studies cited above, decaffeinated coffee and caffeinated coffee alike worked equally well.

Just as it has been discovered over the past few years that coffee provides significant antioxidant protection, it now appears that coffee consumption may play a valuable role in fighting epidemic obesity and high rates of diabetes. These studies suggest that drinking coffee daily and enjoying an espresso after a meal may provide significant benefits to health.

Chris Kilham is a medicine hunter who researches natural remedies all over the world, from the Amazon to Siberia. He teaches ethnobotany at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he is Explorer In Residence. Chris advises herbal, cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies and is a regular guest on radio and TV programs worldwide.  Chris is the author of 14 books, including Hot Plants, Tales from the Medicine Trail, Kava: Medicine Hunting in Paradise, The Whole Food Bible, Psyche Delicacies, and the international best-selling yoga book, The Five Tibetans. Richard Branson features Chris in his new book, Screw Business as Usual. His field research is largely sponsored by Naturex of Avignon, France. Read more at