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Can Caffeine Help You Lose Weight?

There is no question that caffeine is the world’s most popular drug, but many may not be aware that it is also deemed as a performance enhancer in regulated athletic events. Additionally, studies have indicated that caffeine consumption with exercise could help increase the fat burning rate.

One study (“Caffeine consumption around an exercise bout: effects on energy expenditure, energy intake, and exercise enjoyment”. M. Schubert, S. Hall, M. Leveritt, G. Grant, S. Sabapathy, B. Desbrow. Journal of Applied Physiology, 2014.) looked into the increase of energy expenditure with caffeine intake. A common misconception for the layperson is that the workout, itself, is what burns the most fat, but, rather, it is carbohydrates (in the form of glycogen) that are providing the brunt of the energy used during the workout. Instead, when one is at rest, the body is using fat as its energy source. When one works out, the body is working to return back to homeostasis, which is just a fancy way to say going back to the normal, rested state. After a workout, particularly a challenging one, there is excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC); the more challenging the workout, the longer lasting the EPOC, thus more fat burning.

In the study, even before the workout, test subjects who consumed caffeine had a higher energy expenditure rate than those receiving a placebo, which means more fat burned. Additionally, the amount of energy expenditure during the workout and recovery period was higher for the caffeine test subjects. Nevertheless, consuming too much caffeine (>300 mg per day) may have undesired side effects, such as increased blood pressure and flush out calcium.

Drinking a small cup of coffee before a workout may not give you overnight abs, but it can help shorten the length of time it takes to reach weight loss goals, as long as consistent exercise and healthy eating habits are observed. It should be noted that some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others, particularly those that rarely consume the drug. For those that are not regular coffee drinkers, as always, remember to take baby steps. Additionally, checking with your doctor before adopting caffeine as a means to help you lose weight is always recommended.

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