Caffeine – An Ineffective Weight-loss Aid

Nita Wong ‘21

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Figure 1. A new study suggests that caffeine is ineffective as an aid for weight-loss.

The average American consumes eight ounces of coffee on a daily basis. Caffeine, the active ingredient in coffee, has been rumoured to stimulate the release of brain chemicals that suppress appetite and facilitate weight loss by increasing metabolic rate. A recent study conducted by the Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences at the SUNY University of Buffalo, however, suggests otherwise.

Under the direction of lead investigator Dr. Leah M. Panek-Shirley, the team of researchers gathered 50 healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 50. Participants visited the laboratory weekly over the course of a month. During each visit, they drank juice containing either an amount of caffeine equivalent to that within either half or one cup of coffee, 1 mg/kg and 3 mg/kg, respectively, or no caffeine (i.e. a placebo dose). After a half hour, participants partook freely in a breakfast buffet. They were instructed to meticulously record their appetite and food intake throughout the remainder of the day and received hourly reminders from researchers that facilitated the process.

Upon analysis of the collected data, researchers determined that whenever participants received the juice with 1 mg/kg of caffeine, they consumed, on average, 70 fewer calories at breakfast than when they received the juice with 3 mg/kg or no caffeine. However, these participants also compensated for the reduced intake during meals later in the day; thus, there was no overall relationship between caffeine dosage and the total number of calories consumed. Moreover, there was no relationship between the amount of caffeine consumed and appetite. The researchers concluded that the efficacy of caffeine as an appetite suppressor is limited at best and encouraged individuals seeking to lose weight to stick to diet and exercise as opposed to utilizing unproven weight loss practices.

 

References

  1. L. Panek-Shirley, et. al., Caffeine transiently affects food intake at breakfast. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (2018). doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2018.05.015  
  2. Image retrieved from: https://www.pexels.com/photo/beans-coffee-morning-espresso-9186/
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