If you’re big on coffee – like 44 percent of U.S. adults who (on average) drink three 7 oz. cups of coffee per day – you definitely want to know what exactly all that coffee means for your weight. So, in this post, I will answer one of the most frequently asked questions about coffee: does coffee make you gain weight?
Effect of caffeine on weight
Before we get into how coffee affects weight, let’s first talk about its main ingredient: caffeine.
Caffeine is a natural stimulant (a substance that raises levels of physiological or nervous activity in the body). It is more or less present in soda and tea as well, but coffee has a much greater amount of caffeine in a single serving compared to the other two.
One cup serving (240 ml) of plain black coffee, contains about 95 mg of caffeine. That may vary based on what kind of bean you’re using, how you roast it and how you prepare it. But, 95mg/cup is somewhat of a ballpark.
Caffeine x Metabolism
Caffeine is said to boost your metabolism (your body’s ability to digest) and makes your body produce heat, a process called thermogenesis.
You are also likely to become more active and alert, resulting in a higher chance of burning extra pounds when you workout. That may sound like a good shortcut to weight loss, but, it takes a rather large amount of caffeine to boost up metabolism dramatically; and taking caffeine in large amounts can have some other damaging effects.
Moreover, Caffeine is a diuretic. Diuresis is a process in which a person loses weight through the removal of fluids from the body.
Did you know that consuming about 500 milligrams (5 cups) of brewed caffeine a day is enough to cause dehydration? This might count as a shortcut way to weight loss, but can prove to be dangerous in the long run.
Totally not recommended!
Now that we’ve gone over all the prerequisite information, it’s time to bring forth the straightforward answer to your main concern:
Can caffeine cause you to gain weight?
A report on PubMed.gov shows that when a study was conducted to see if consistent intake of caffeine (found in the highest amount, in coffee) does indeed have an impact on the weight of men and women on a long term basis, the results proved it to be a solid ‘yes’. Caffeine, in fact, does have an impact on our weight. What is that impact? Keep reading.
In men, the impact of caffeine on weight was seen stronger in those who were younger. In women, it was stronger in those who had a body mass index = 25, who were less physically active, or who were current smokers.
The study was done over a period of twelve years from 1986 to 1998 having 18,417 men and 39,740 women as participants with no chronic diseases.
Here’s what the report says:
“Increases in caffeine intake may lead to a small reduction in long term weight gain.”
Caffeine, in and of itself, does not make you ‘gain’ weight!
Although we can see that over a period of 12 years, the caffeine consumption did lead to lesser weight gain, this should also be taken into account that those with the greater intake came out to be only a pound less heavy than the participants who took smaller amounts of caffeine.
But, who cares. It’s still something.
Plus, another research found that more caffeine consumption also ensures better weight loss maintenance.
All in all, we can conclude this particular matter with the thought that yes, the caffeine in your coffee might prove to be helpful in maintaining your current weight, as well as assist you in lowering the numbers on your weighing scale!
With these awesome findings, by the way…
You do understand that we’re talking about black, no additives cup of java, right? Adding the extra calories from milk and sweeteners will still blur this whole pretty picture.
Caffeine x Appetite
Studies show that due to all the caffeine in it, drinking coffee leads to a reduction in the levels of ‘Ghrelin’ which is the hunger hormone.
What it does is, it instigates the sensation of satiety in you and thus leaves you feeling like you’re not hungry anymore. So, you don’t end up eating too much or even eat at all, after you’ve had a cup of coffee. This happens because of the production of adrenaline in your body.
There’s yet another report that suggests a different story, though. It shows that caffeine cannot be taken as a reliable appetite suppressant.
So, what we can take away from all these researches in this specific area is that the results are conflicted. And that this could become a good research topic for all the up and coming researchers out there – Please. We need clarity. It’s important.
But, seriously, you can try taking a cup of coffee before your hunger hormone even begins to stir – just nip it in the bud – and see how that works for you.
Does coffee have carbs?
Coffee is not carb free!
While most of the labels on coffee jars say ‘carb free’, they’re actually not. But because the FDA allows manufacturers to round off the nutrition facts, they are able to write ‘carb free’.
If you take your coffee with milk, based on the figures we just went over, when you consume it for breakfast and then again during lunch break or any other time for that matter, you actually consume about 30 percent of your required carbs for the day, making this practice one of the major causes for your excessive weight.
On average most people consume 30-50 grams of net carbs per day, while those on a keto diet try to keep the figures below 20.
So, if you’re trying to follow keto, then just your coffee is making up for the daily carbs you’re allowed to take.
Different coffee types and weight loss
Whether coffee makes you gain weight or not, boils down to three things:
- How you take your coffee
- How much
- And how often
The method of preparation, the frequency and the exact quantity is what will determine the effects.
If your coffee is anything other than black, and is not devoid of sugars and syrups, then yes, you’ll probably end up putting on weight eventually, if you drink it like this frequently.
But, of course, having Starbucks Frappuccinos once in a while should not prove to be a problem.
A simple cup of plain black coffee taken in moderate amounts, will not make you gain weight. I repeat, plain black coffee will not make you gain weight.
According to the U.S. Department Of Agriculture, the invigorating beverage that’s consumed by almost every American on a daily basis, if taken on its own, a single cup (that would be 240 ml) without any additives, contains 2 calories only!
So, when you brew your coffee (or well, your machine does) and like to have it just the way it is, at this point – you’re good!
Black coffee is also a great substitute for other drinks, like the pops / sodas we so love, juices, hot chocolate, and energy drinks that bank up sugar like anything – translating into: a whole lot of calories.
In fact, if we drink 1 glass of water instead of a glass of the sugary drinks mentioned above, for 6 months, we are very likely to lose up to 4 pounds or almost 2kg .
Not a bad swap at all!
However, just remember, when you sprinkle in all those spoonfuls of table sugar, and in goes some cream too – ‘cause why not? – sorry to burst your bubble, but all that is not coffee, and is definitely going to add up to your waistline.
For some people, the beautiful aroma of coffee is the main motivation to get themselves out of bed each morning. If you like your coffee warm and you drink it daily, here’s one way to make black coffee that’ll ensure you don’t gain weight:
Coffee with Milk or Cream
As per the USDA, half a cup of milk (122 ml) has 52 calories in it, whereas 5 ml of cream has 25 calories. So, accordingly, you can calculate the exact amount of calories you load up on when you blend your coffee with milk or cream.
I know, it’s hard to discontinue doing something right away, that your taste buds are so accustomed to. But, you can surely start by taking a lesser amount of the product in question, than you normally would, and then gradually but consistently keep decreasing it until you reach zero.
Keep in mind though that while the gradual decrement might seem easy, sticking to it is what shows you the results over time.
There are a few alternatives too, that you might want to try.
Alternatives of milk to add in your coffee without making you gain weight
Instead of reaching for regular milk, here are a few alternate products you can try:
(Be sure to notice the difference in their calories with their respective measurements).
- Skimmed milk
35 calories per 100 ml
- Semi skimmed milk
47 calories per 100 ml
- Unsweetened Almond milk
30 calories per cup (240 ml)
- Unsweetened Coconut milk
45 calories per cup (240 ml)
- Condensed milk
21 calories in a teaspoon
Add flavor to your coffee without the risk of gaining weight
If you think all the precautions will make your drink boring, you’re free to add the following to your brew:
- Dark chocolate
- Unsweetened cocoa powder
- Vanilla Extract
- Natural sweetener
- Orange zest
These are just a few ideas, I’m sure you can think of many other options. Provided that your ideas don’t pose a threat to your weight loss or maintenance goals.
You know the basic rules now. Just apply them on all kinds of coffee you can think of.
Coffee & Sleep
Too much consumption of caffeine can cause insomnia, which in turn results in an uncalled for weight gain.
How? Let’s find out.
There’s a chemical in our brains called Adenosine, whose job is to make us sleepy. Caffeine interferes with it and disrupts its work, consequently making sleep difficult for us.
If you’re someone who’s been through all-nighters, grumpy mornings, afternoons that can put a snail to the test, and evenings that tend to end too soon… A giant cup of coffee, for you, is like a fuzzy, warm hug that not only caresses and calms you down, but also encourages you with a brand new flush of vitality to tackle what’s left of the boring tasks – or the rest of the life for that matter.
But that instant revival of sanity comes with a price.
And not just for food, but for ‘processed food’.
Furthermore, consuming caffeine increases the stress hormone cortisol, while also throwing blood sugar level off balance, which increases your craving for sugar and fat.
The sugar and cream put in the coffee can shoot your blood sugar level up and then immediately low, making you hungry instantly too.
So basically, the trio of caffeine, sugar and cream, combined with a disrupted body clock that does not know when to shut you off anymore, altogether causes havoc.
Therefore, the next time you feel like munching on potato chips, cookies and pastries late at night or all day long, ask yourself what could be the reason behind these untimely cravings.
If you rely on coffee to give you a jolt of revival every time, the subsequent hunger for processed food and overeating is bound to make you gain weight.
Your body will thank you for this break.
Coffee & Blood Sugar (Glucose)
Caffeine slightly raises your blood sugar levels and weakens insulin action.
When blood sugar level rises, the insulin gets the signal that there is plenty of glucose to store as fat – thus it does so.
This gets dangerous when insulin starts storing too much fat, resulting in insulin resistance which makes it very difficult to lose weight.
This insulin resistance is commonly seen in women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.
Another down side of this? When too much sugar is stored in your body, you start feeling tired and crave more sugar.
Coffee & Taste Buds
A study reveals how caffeine can also affect your sense of taste when it comes to tasting sweet.
When caffeine comes in the way of Adenosine (the chemical that makes us sleepy, remember from earlier?), it not only regulates our system to become attentive again instead of falling into fatigue, but also deteriorates the tongue’s sensitivity to sweetness.
“May reduce perceived sweet taste in humans”, they say.
Which means it naturally leaves a person wanting to add more and more sweetener not only in their coffee at the time, but also crave sugary sweets like doughnuts, petit fours, eclairs, frosted cupcakes and other pastries.
But, you must!
This is why all your renowned and favorite coffee shops are loaded with these beautiful looking sweet treats. They make you believe that pairing up a sweet treat with coffee is the best way to have it. It is not. They know the research on how coffee affects your taste buds and makes you crave sugar. That sugar will only make you gain more weight. Don’t buy that donut!
Consider getting yourself a coffee roaster machine
If you are a true coffee lover, and you practically live on coffee, you might want to consider investing in a coffee roaster machine.
What are the advantages, you ask? Well, doing this will enable you to keep a check on every single thing. From roasting to preparation down to garnishing. Secondly, the shelf-life of roasted beans you get from the market is not that long. Roasting your own beans translates into great smell + great flavor every single time.
And it’s not even that time consuming. Properly roasting your beans would take around 12 minutes. If you take your coffee seriously, that’s nothing for you.
Besides, you get almost 2 pounds of excellent quality green coffee in more or less the same amount that you pay to purchase 9 ounces of roasted beans from coffee dealers. Your daily consumption of coffee is not only adding to your waistline, little by little it’s also heavy on the pocket.
Look at it this way: The money you invest in a roaster machine is going to be one-time (which is very likely to recover itself in no time), and you are technically saving yourself from losing a lot of $$ numbers in the long-run!
To save your time, I’m listing below the top three roasters that have proved themselves to be the best in their work.
1. Kaldi Wide Home Coffee Roaster
Having a capacity to roast up to 300 gms of seeds in one go, Kaldi should be your choice if you want your machine to roast plenty of beans at once.
Its features include:
- Bean hopper
- Probe rod
- Chaff holder
- Free volt adapter
- And to support all that – a strong body
A little on the pricier side, Kaldi sure does its job well and comes under high-quality industrial products. If you want something more than average, definitely check this one out.
2. JIAWANSHUN Electric Coffee Roaster
JIAWANSHUN Roaster boasts a sleek design and is available at an affordable cost.
Its features include:
- A non-stick chassis – which makes cleaning super easy
- Two different sizes: 110V & 220V – whatever suits your demand
- Measures in Celsius
- Capacity: holds a tad more than 1 pound of coffee
Pretty good for an affordable, hassle-free design that’s only going to add to your convenience.
3. FreshRoast SR540 Automatic Coffee Roaster
This machine is the cutest thing you’ll find – and comes at quite a reasonable price! FreshRoast is so compact in its design that you won’t have to worry about the kitchen space it will take.
Its features include:
- Real-time temperature display
- Nine different levels of heat and fan settings.
- Simple navigation
- Capacity: 120 gms of coffee per session
- One-year warranty
This tiny machine comes with big pros and almost zero cons.
So, does coffee make you gain weight?
Let’s quickly review some important things and let them set in concrete:
1. Plain, brewed, black coffee does not make you gain weight.
2. If you tend to drink a lot of coffee, start lowering your consumption. Practice portion control – It’s always best to stay moderate in everything.
3. Steer clear of milk and cream. It’s them that
4. Start omitting the artificial sweeteners from your drink. It will grant you many other health benefits too. Switch to natural flavorings instead.
5. Coffee does have carbs in it and you unknowingly consume 30 percent of your daily carbs just by having creamy, sugary coffee twice a day.
6. It disrupts your sleep pattern and induces hunger, so be mindful of this when you decide to have it in the evening or close to bedtime.
And with that, I conclude this post.