The Coffee Conundrum – Does Coffee Help You Burn Fat?

December 14, 2010

Keep your morning cup of coffee – it’s loaded with antioxidants and you’ll lose more weight when hopped up on caffeine. No wait – all that caffeine might cause diabetes and is bad for weight loss. What should you do? Opinions on both sides are strong – strong like a piping hot cup of French Roast, and there is research backing both sides of this argument. And it’s an argument indeed – take away a cup of Starbucks from a java junkie and you might not live to tell the tale. When it comes to weight loss, popular advice based on interpretation of current research poses several problems. First, like any other plant ‘medicine” coffee seems to behave differently that caffeine alone – meaning that’s its other constituents and antioxidants play a role in how one responds (Translation: studies done on caffeine alone shouldn’t be directly applied to coffee and often times caffeine dosed in these studies is well in excess of what the average coffee drinker consumes). Next, studies pertaining to insulin sensitivity and diabetes are done on so called healthy subjects – ignoring the fact that there may be subtle derangements in their insulin function but they are not overtly diabetic or full blown insulin resistant. Caffeine’s effect on insulin is where coffee plays into fat loss. Here’s what you need to know: * Caffeine appears to acutely lower insulin sensitivity, but the effect is not chronic. Meaning that in the healthy, exercising individual, coffee drinking does not lead to diabetes . However, it does lower your insulin sensitivity in the short term so avoid drinking it with starches (optimal or allowable and for sure skip the muffin at your coffee break). If you have insulin resistance, diabetes or are not following a lower carb diet, caffeine can make insulin matters worse. * Raising epinephrine is one mechanism by which caffeine perks you up, a preworkout coffee or tea will allow you to perform better, exercise harder and burn more fat at the gym. Avoid post workout caffeine to avoid thwarting the effects of your Recovery Shake. And  if you have anxiety, insomnia or are at all aggravated from caffeine it’s wise to avoid coffee and caffeinated beverages in general. * The fat in cream or Half & Half will slow caffeine release into your system making it a better fat burner. But keep it light as to not pile on the calories and saturated fat. 1 tbsp or less is fine. * Finally, caffeine appears to be less of a diuretic than once thought – meaning it isn’t as significant of a factor in dehydration.

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