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The Latest Weight Loss Buzz: Green Coffee Beans

green coffee beans

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Green tea has been touted for all kinds of health benefits, including weight loss, but lately we’ve been hearing about a different green: green coffee beans.

The talk about green coffee beans, or green coffee extract, exploded last year when Dr. Oz featured this “miracle” weight loss remedy on his show. He had 100 women consume green coffee beans in pill form for 2 weeks, then looked at how much weight they lost: 2 pounds. The control group, however, lost a pound as well, meaning there was only a pound difference. So is this enough evidence to base the supposedly amazing results of this pill?

Probably not. I for one don’t really mind that it might not work I’d much rather drink my coffee in liquid form than choke it down as a pill. However, I never shouted the weight loss benefits of green tea from the rooftops because there’s no way I could drink that much liquid. That doesn’t mean you feel the same way.

The component of the green coffee beans that is said to be the differing factor here is called chlorogenic acid. Green coffee beans aren’t roasted, and roasting causes coffee beans to lose their chlorogenic acid. These acids are known to positively affect glucose and fat metabolism, meaning your body will process what you’re eating and storing as fat in a more efficient manner.

But what about the effectiveness of chlorogenic acid in green coffee form? To start with, some supplements don’t have much chlorogenic acid in them to start with, so you’d have to scrutinize labels. (ConsumerLab reports 4 out of 8 brands they tested did not contain enough of the chemical to produce results.)  Second, there isn’t great evidence that chlorogenic acids actually increase weight loss. Most of the studies that have been done are fairly weak with small sample sizes, so it’s hard to make a concrete conclusion.

For example, this study on the safety and efficacy of green coffee extract resulted in weight loss, fat loss, a reduction in body mass index (BMI), and a decrease in heart rate. Those are all great things, but the study only looked at 16 overweight adults. It’s hard to expand the results of 16 people to the population at large. Still, it does show the potential of green coffee extract as a weight loss tool. However, a study in mice showed that not only did chlorogenic acid not result in weight loss, it actually caused symptoms of diabetes — the exact opposite of what we want to achieve by losing weight. It also caused fat to build up in the liver.

While research thus far hasn’t revealed any major negative side effects, chlorogenic acid contains an amino acid called homocysteine. High levels of homocysteine are associated with heart disease. Another factor to consider is that these coffee beans, although green and taken in pill form, still contain that kick of caffeine that we’re used to in a regular cup of Joe. While moderate caffeine intake doesn’t seem to harm most people, too much can cause jitteriness, lack of attention, and other side effects. If you drink a cup (or two) of coffee in the morning, have a piece of dark chocolate for a snack, and take these pills before meals, it’s easy to see how fast the caffeine can add up. I for one wouldn’t be able to handle caffeine, even in pill form, right before dinner — there’s no way I could go to sleep, and sleep is one of the forgotten factors of weight loss/gain.

So even though everyone seems to be all a-buzz about this new weight loss product, you might want to look into it a little more before trying it.

Have you tried green coffee extract? I’d love to hear your take on it.

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