Millions of people drink coffee. In fact, it is one of the most steadily consumed beverages in the world. According to the International Coffee Organization, the global population consumes over 160 million bags of coffee per year. And while there are numerous ways to take your coffee—hot, cold, frozen, iced, whipped, or with cream and sugar—drinking your coffee black may actually be good for you (and your body). In fact, drinking coffee can help you lose weight.
“Black coffee can help you lose weight if used in conjunction with healthy lifestyle habits,” Brittany Lubeck, a registered dietitian, tells Parade. “This means that adding coffee to your diet without making other needed nutrition and physical fitness changes will probably not lead to weight loss. However, the caffeine in coffee can help with weight loss.”
“Drinking coffee is generally linked to reduced weight because it helps the body to burn fat,” Heidi Moretti, a clinical dietician, adds.
But how does it work and how much coffee do you need? Here’s everything we know about the benefits of coffee consumption and how it affects your weight.
How does coffee help you lose weight?
While the specifics are hazy, at best, several studies have linked coffee to weight loss. A 2019 study in Scientific Reports found that caffeine may stimulate the breakdown of adipose tissue, or the fat in your body, and this in turn burns calories. A 2020 study by Harvard Health found similar results—that caffeine may increase your metabolic rate—and a 2020 study on rats showed that caffeinated green tea has the potential to help animals lose weight.
“Caffeine has been studied for its possible weight loss effects,” Lubeck says. “It has been found to aid in weight loss by increasing fat oxidation, especially when combined with other approved weight loss medications. The caffeine in coffee has an appetite-suppressing effect that can keep hunger at bay, and caffeine is a stimulant that increases your energy and may encourage you to be more physically active. Increased physical activity can lead to weight loss.”
Related: 6 Good-for-You Coffee Blends
Can you drink too much coffee?
The short answer is yes. Ingesting too much coffee can have detrimental effects on your body and brain. But how much coffee is too much? Well, it depends. People process caffeine differently. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says people should consume no more than 400 milligrams daily. That’s about four cups of freshly brewed coffee.
What are coffee supplements, and do they work?
If you’re looking to reap the benefits of coffee but you’re not a coffee drinker, you may be considering taking supplements. But what are coffee supplements? Well, coffee supplements are pills, capsules, or powders that contain the extract of unroasted coffee beans and purportedly help consumers reap the benefits of coffee without actually drinking it.
Related: 12 Gifts for the Coffee Lover In Your Life
“Some individuals supplement the coffee intake with green coffee extract supplements, which work to help reduce body mass index in people who are overweight, according to a systematic review of 16 studies,” Moretti explains. “This is because green coffee contains an antioxidant called chlorogenic acid, which is thought to be the active ingredient for weight loss.”
However, the research is still unclear and needs to be studied a lot more before health professionals would ever recommend coffee supplements for weight loss.
What type of coffee should you consume if you want to lose weight?
From the coffee’s temperature to its flavoring, the possibilities in terms of how you consume your coffee are seemingly endless. So what is the best way to consume coffee for weight loss? Our nutritionists agree: You should drink your coffee black.
Related: 36 Best Coffee Subscription Services
“Plain, black coffee is relatively low in calories, but the calorie count can increase quickly and substantially when high-fat dairy, sugar, syrups, and other flavors are added,” Lubeck explains. “While adding cream, sugar, and different flavors to your coffee cup each morning is typically OK, once you start drinking multiple cups or order large sizes from a coffee bar, the calories and fat can add up.”
Healthy Now Newsletter
Get good vibes and health tips delivered right to your inbox!
Are there any risks to drinking coffee for weight loss?
As with any “diet” there are inherent risks. Drinking too much coffee can disrupt your sleep, and poor sleep is often linked to appetite increases and hunger. Consuming high-calorie coffee beverages can cause weight gain, specifically when said beverages are laden with dairy and sugar. And too much caffeine can actually induce anxiety in some individuals, or cause digestive issues.
Long story short: Coffee can help with weight loss, but you should think of it more as an aid to weight loss than a “diet.”
Next up, use these 10 hacks for a healthy, low-calorie Starbucks drink.