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Ask the Diva: Can Green Coffee Help You Lose Weight?

Green coffee extracts are all the buzz. Are they a better way to rev up or slim down? Nutrition Diva’s got the skinny on the latest weight loss fad.

By
Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS,
March 14, 2013
Episode #205

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Can Green Coffee Help You Lose Weight?

Dominick writes:

“I’ve been hearing a lot about green coffee and its positive effects on energy and weight loss. I know that Starbucks has a new green coffee drink out and I’ve also heard about supplements. Is it too good to be true?”

Well, I’ll give you this, Dominick: You’re certainly on trend. Green coffee is the new raspberry ketones!  Because I don’t spend much time in the world of miracle weight loss supplements, I actually missed the buzz about green coffee extract as a way to speed weight loss. But the new green coffee drink at Starbucks did ignite my curiosity.>

What is Green Coffee?

Both the supplements and the green coffee beverages at Starbucks are powered by an extract pressed from unroasted, or “green,” coffee beans. The green coffee beverages I’ve tried, which taste like herbal iced tea, deliver caffeine—a well-known fatigue-fighter and energy booster—without the coffee flavor.I’ve written before about the many benefits of moderate caffeine consumption. Caffeine can help you feel more alert, aid concentration, enhance athletic performance, and protect against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. The green coffee drinks I’ve tried don’t have anywhere near as much caffeine as regular coffee, about 20% as much as in the same amount of strong coffee, or about what you’d get from a glass of iced tea. As a delivery system for caffeine, I’m not sure that green coffee drinks offer anything new except, well, the novelty.

Green Coffee Extract for Weight Loss

Supplements containing green coffee extract—in much larger quantities than what you’d get from one of these beverages—are also being marketed as a weight loss aid. This is mostly on the strength of one small study (funded by—you guess it—a company that markets green coffee extract), which found that overweight people lost weight when they took a high-dose green coffee supplement.

Although the green coffee extract that the subjects took did contain a small amount of caffeine, that wouldn’t appear to explain the weight loss. The lead researcher believes that it’s due to another active ingredient in coffee called chlorogenic acid. Cholorgenic acid is an antioxidant and it has also been shown to affect how the body responds to sugar. It may be chlorogenic acid, for example, that is responsible for the fact that coffee drinkers have a reduced risk of diabetes.

See also: Can You Reverse Diabetes With Diet?

It’s definitely worth further investigation—both to pin down possible mechanisms of action but, more importantly, to see whether these results will hold up in a larger, independent trial. It’s interesting that despite the dramatic results, the authors don’t seem to have been able to get the paper published by any major medical journal. Perhaps there were things about the study design or execution that made the peer reviewers nervous?

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