Caffeine: The Good, The Bad and the Hyper

By Betty Murray

Many people believe caffeine can boost weight loss. Caffeine is the main active ingredient in may over-the-counter weight loss drugs, but does it really work? Can it really help you lose weight? Can it have negative effects on weight loss?

This question has been asked for years, and multiple studies show results on both sides of the caffeine controversy.

While there may not be a solid answer, here is what we do know about the effects of caffeine on your weight loss journey.

1.    Caffeine is a diuretic. Caffeine works as a mild diuretic, which will cause you to lose some water weight.
2.    Caffeine can boost energy levels. While it may be short lived, a dose of caffeine may give you just the added boost of energy you need to get moving in the morning. It may even give you that bit of extra energy to extend your workout another five or 10 minutes. The longer the workout, the more calories burned, the more weight lost.
3.    Caffeine suppresses appetite.  For many people, caffeine may provide brief periods of appetite suppression. Because weight loss is a balance of calories in/calories out, eating less can help you lose weight.
4.    Caffeine stimulates calorie burn. Thermogenesis is the process by which your body generates heat and energy from food. Caffeine may stimulate this process, igniting calorie burn. Although the effects may not last long enough to really make a difference.

Although these facts about caffeine are true, research is divided on whether or not the effect of caffeine on factors such as appetite, calorie burn and energy levels is strong enough to promote weight loss in a measurable amount.

There are some cons to caffeine that should be mentioned too.

1.    Caffeinated drinks can be high in calories. If you want to boost weight loss by drinking caffeine, stay away from sugary Starbucks drinks or sodas, which are loaded with sugar. The best source of low-calorie caffeine is black coffee or unsweetened tea.
2.    Caffeine can cause an energy crash. Caffeine stimulates the body to produce more adrenaline and dopamine, which causes a spike in energy levels, but as the adrenaline and dopamine levels drop, you may experience an energy crash and even a drop in your mood. The energizing effects of caffeine are strongest in the first hour after consumption.
3.    Too much caffeine isn’t good for your body. Adults should consume no more than 400mg of caffeine per day. Too much caffeine can cause problems such as nervousness, nausea, increased blood pressure, and insomnia. Sleep is an essential part of weight loss, so if you can’t sleep because you are too hyped up on caffeine, you’re doing yourself a disservice.

Before taking any over-the-counter weight loss drugs, talk to your doctor. The healthiest way to lose weight is by eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly and getting plenty of sleep.

Betty Murray, CN, HHC, RYT is a Certified Nutritionist & Holistic Health Counselor, founder of the Dallas-based integrative medical center, Wellness and founder of the Metabolic Blueprint wellness program. Betty’s nutrition counseling practice specializes in metabolic and digestive disorders and weight loss resistance. A master of the biochemistry of the body, Betty teaches her clients how to utilize nutritional interventions to improve their health. Betty is a member of the Institute of Functional Medicine and the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.

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