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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Is my caffeine intake contributing to my obesity?

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  • 1




    Lorna is an experienced sports dietitian and nutritionist providing general and individual high performance eating advice to people throughout Australia. Lorna Garden is a dietitian … View Profile

    Caffeine is a compound found in the leaves, seeds or fruit of a number of plant species, including coffee, tea and cocoa.  It is a strong stimulant which acts on the central nervous system, speeding  up messages to and from the brain.
    Caffeine is more commonly associated with weight loss rather than weight gain, being used in a number of weight loss medications to stimulate the metabolism, however the long term safety and effectiveness of most of these drugs are very questionable.
    There are a number of ways in which caffeine intake could contribute to overweight and obesity, and these relate to the form in which caffeine is ingested.  Drinking several cups of coffee as cappuccinos or lattes with sugar, will add significant kilojoules to your daily intake, as will hot chocolates or chocolate bars.   Caffeine is also found in a number of cola beverages, which generally have a high sugar content to balance the flavour. A recent study suggested that if caffeine was removed from these sugary drinks it would be possible to remove as much as 10% of the sugar without changing the taste.
    So if your caffeine comes from cappuccinos, chocolate or cola soft drinks then it is very likely that this is contributing to excess body fat levels. If you can’t kick the caffeine habit, reduce your intake over time and enjoy it in green tea instead.

  • 1


    Kirsty Woods

    Exercise Physiologist

    Hi I’m Kirsty Woods,I would like to use my experience, expertise and passion to help you reach your weight, energy and health goalsI have been … View Profile

    The metabolic impact of coffee is very individual, particularly in those who are obese or have liver issues. As mentioned above 1-2 is generally ok, in excess however is more likely to inhibit fat burning and stress the liver.
    It also depends on if you have your coffees with sugar, how many you have, and milk content of those coffees. A long black with a bit of milk is the best choice. 

  • 1


    Arlene is a registered practising dietitian, with a private practice in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, and has built a strong business over the last … View Profile

    Caffeine is found in numerous products - coffee, chocolate, cola drinks to name a few. Depending which product is the source of your caffeine will affect your calorie intake. If you are consuming a lot of chocolate you are not only consuming caffeine, but also the fat and sugar that are ingredients of the chocolate making it very high in kilojoules - in this case it is not the caffeine that is affecting your weight but the calories in the chocolate. Cola drinks are also high in caffeine. If they are the source of your caffeine then the sugar content is adding to your calorific intake. You cannot consider caffeine alone but must look at eh source of the caffeine.

    Studies in the past have shown that drinking coffee in moderation could result in weight loss and also cut the risk of diabetes. However new findings have shown that chlorogenic acid found in coffee may perhaps lead to weight gain and insulin resistance if more than five cups are drunk in a day. It is thought that overconsumption of polyphenols found in coffee could result in preventing fat loss and in fact lead to insulin resistance, Chlorogenic acid is the polyphenol found in coffee.
    These results were found in experiments done on mice which were given different doses of the chlorogenic acid.  The mice that were given doses equivalent to five or six cups of coffee per day showed retention of fat within cells.
     The obese mice also showed more glucose intolerance, a pre-diabetic condition, and increased resistance to insulin regulation.
    This also included research on decaffeinated coffee, which suggested that the health benefits are from a compound in coffee apart from caffeine. Chlorogenic acid found in coffee could affect how the liver metabolises fat and cells store fat, contributing weight gain.
    It is fine to drink coffee in moderation – not more than three cups per day. The affect of coffee appears to depend on the dose. A moderate amount seems to decrease the risk of developin some diseases such as Type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease.

    In all honesty I do not think that the coffee you are drinking is preventing you from losing weight. If you are consuming a lot of milk or sugar in your coffee these may be adding calorifically to your diet. Eliminate these and you will not have weight gain.

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