A lot of people reach for a cup of coffee in the morning to start the day. There is something cozy and nostalgic about the smell of coffee brewing, the sound of the pot dripping and sputtering, and that first hot sip. We might even drink it to help get through the day or power into a late night of work or school. But have you ever thought that coffee might help you lose weight or prevent diseases like diabetes or Parkinson's disease?
Well, a new diet has emerged in the world of fad diets—the Coffee Lover's Diet, created by Dr. Bob Arnot. For coffee lovers, this could be the perfect diet to try but does it really work? How does this help you lose weight? Is this effective or recommended?
There are several health benefits of coffee you could get if you are a coffee lover. It can provide additional antioxidant benefits, along with a boost of energy from caffeine. It can also help lower the risk of several diseases. However, excessive caffeine intake can lead to undesirable side effects. The Coffee Diet works mainly because you limit caloric intake. There is limited research as to how coffee affects weight loss. Its many risks and potential side effects could do more harm than good, especially in the long run.
Read on to learn more about this weight loss plan and why it's not a good idea for people to follow this diet.
The Coffee Lover's Diet by Dr. Bob Arnot
The Coffee Lover's Diet is a book published by Dr. Bob Arnot in 2017. The book claims that coffee can help improve mental clarity, fend off disease (like diabetes and Parkinson's disease), promote weight loss, and improve overall health. Multiple articles claim that this diet can help you lose up to 50 pounds in 50 days while improving overall health and increasing energy.
The coffee diet focuses on a few major things:
Drinking a minimum of three cups of black coffee per day.
The diet states that lighter roasted coffee should be the drink of choice. It should be preferably grown in a higher altitude location like Columbia, Kenya, Ethiopia, or Brazil, as lighter roasts are higher in polyphenol content. Polyphenols are the antioxidants in coffee that are linked to health benefits. Polyphenols can also be found in many foods, including potatoes, capers, and soy products.
Replacing one meal with a high fiber smoothie and consuming high fiber, low carbohydrate, lean protein meals for the remaining two.
Snacks include fruits and vegetables or a small amount of low-fat dairy. All processed foods and refined carbohydrates are avoided on this diet.
The average daily meal plan for the coffee diet is about 1500 calories. The daily breakdown goes like this: wake up and drink one cup of black coffee (no cream or sugar). You can drink as much coffee as you want throughout the rest of the day, as long as you drink a minimum of three cups. It doesn't have to be caffeinated and can be hot or iced.
Are There Benefits to the Dr. Arnot's Coffee Diet?
Although Dr. Arnot's Coffee Diet is primarily due to the limited calorie intake, coffee still has several potential health benefits. Aside from giving you the energy boost you need throughout the day, research found that coffee can help with different diseases. It can help lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, Parkinson's disease, depression, and Alzheimer's.
Here are some of the nutritional content of a regular black coffee:
- Around 2 calories
- 11% RDI of Vitamin B2
- 6% RDI of Vitamin B5
- 2% RDI of Vitamin B3
- 3% RDI of Manganese and Potassium
The reason this diet might work in the short ter is likely because calories are being restricted, not because coffee is a magic cure-all. The average American consumes anywhere from 1800-3000 calories per day, which could really even be higher. A lot of times, we tend to underestimate how much we actually eat. Additionally, cutting out all processed foods can lead to fast foods. This means no fast food, soda, frozen or packaged meals, and alcohol. This process could be effective, especially when these are replaced with a diet rich in nutritious fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
Can You Lose Weight By Drinking Coffee?
There is limited research on whether or not drinking coffee can promote weight loss.
One common weight loss supplement is Green Coffee Extract (GCE). These are precisely what it sounds like; extract from green, or unroasted, coffee beans. There are a few theories behind how green coffee extract works, including its ability to influence blood sugar levels and limit the production and storage of triglycerides by the liver.
One systematic review found a total of three studies that supported GCE for weight loss. GCE does seem to work more effectively compared to a placebo to promote weight loss. However, because the research is so limited, it's difficult to determine just how effective it can be.
Additionally, GCE is high in antioxidants, which may also explain the positive influence on blood sugar management. It's important to note that the extracts found in green coffee are present in roasted coffee but in lower amounts. Therefore, using GCE compared to drinking black coffee for weight loss is likely not going to yield the same results.
Is There A Magic "Weight Loss Coffee"?
Long story short, no. There is no magic coffee that can promote weight loss. Research shows that drinking coffee may help increase energy, boost metabolism, and have the secondary effect of weight loss. This happens through influencing blood sugar or limiting triglyceride production in the liver. But if you want to lose weight with coffee, you will likely be disappointed with your results.
The Coffee Lover's Diet works because you limit caloric intake and not because of the coffee.
There is limited research showing that drinking coffee before eating may reduce how much you consume during that meal, leading to weight loss. Conversely, research shows that drinking coffee does not affect how much you eat at a meal.
There are some diets, like the Ketogenic diet, that includes a "bulletproof coffee." This is a coffee drink made with butter, coconut oil, or other MCT fats. This coffee is high in fat and calories but low in carbohydrates and is technically not considered a "weight loss coffee." The fat can also help to promote feelings of satiety, which may lead to eating less. It's often used to help those following a Ketogenic diet to meet their daily fat requirements.
The Ketogenic diet has commonly been used for those looking to lose weight quickly. However, it is not realistic in the long term for most people. It's challenging to follow, expensive, and can have many undesirable side effects, including high cholesterol and stunted growth.
Is A Coffee Diet a Good Idea?
A diet that consistent of drinking more cups of coffee than you would otherwise is not a good idea for the following reason:
Undesirable caffeine side effects
First, the coffee diet encourages a minimum of three cups of black coffee per day with no cap on how much coffee to consume. Coffee contains a rough average of about 100 milligrams of caffeine per cup. Caffeine stimulates the nervous system and releases epinephrine (adrenaline). This gives you the feeling of being energized but can also lead to undesirable side effects like increased anxiety, heart palpitations, or trouble breathing.
The recommended and safe amount of coffee intake per day is about 400 mg or 4 cups of coffee.
Some research shows that caffeine can boost metabolism and increase the amount of fat burned throughout the day. Increased fat burn does lead to weight loss over time, but losing weight by drinking excessive amounts of coffee is not smart or safe.
Caffeine has a half-life of five hours, so five hours after drinking one cup, half of the amount of caffeine is still circulating through your body. This means that caffeine overload could lead to difficulty sleeping if you consume multiple cups of coffee throughout the day. If you have trouble sleeping and need to drink more caffeine to get through the day, it can lead to a cycle of overconsumption.
The coffee diet does state that you could drink decaffeinated coffee, which could be a better alternative. Decaffeinated coffee still contains beneficial antioxidants that the founder of the diet perceives to be life-changing. However, it's not a smart idea to rely on coffee to improve your overall health.
Also, what if you don't like to drink coffee? One of the "success stories" from this diet stated that she did not drink coffee before the diet, and now she's hooked. This could be perceived as unsuccessful, as the diet led to a new addiction to coffee.
Coffee also works as a diuretic, meaning that excessive intake could lead to dehydration. For each cup of coffee consumed, it's a good idea to drink the same amount of water. The diuretic effect could have you running to the bathroom, especially if consuming three or more cups!
Long-term weight gain
People who have undergone low-calorie diets often gain back the weight they drastically lost during this process. According to this study, 80% of people will gain weight after the first month of being off the diet. More than that, only 1% of people can actually retain weight.
Can You Eat Food In The Coffee Diet?
The coffee diet created by Dr. Bob Arnot does focus on eating high-quality, whole foods, lots of fiber, and lean proteins. This is a very healthy, nutritious way to eat. However, the amount of food is likely insufficient to prevent feelings of hunger throughout the day for most people, as the calorie intake is less than most are used to eating.
The average daily calorie intake is roughly 1500, which is much less than most Americans consume. Restricting calories can trick the body into thinking it's starving and actually do the opposite of the diet's intent. It can prevent the body from losing weight while breaking down muscle for energy and causing irregular blood sugar levels.
Low-calorie diets such as this can affect your Leptin levels. This hormone warns your brain that you are full and that you should stop eating already. If your Leptin levels drop, that's when you'll get the feeling of hunger and food cravings.
Although coffee has its fair share of health benefits, increasing your coffee intake to get these benefits is not a very smart or good idea. The antioxidants in coffee are also found in many foods, so eating a wide variety of food can intake the same nutrients. The health benefits of eating minimally processed foods include improving heart health, lowing blood sugar, lowering inflammation, improving the immune system, and can help you lose weight.
To lose weight and keep it off, slow, consistent weight loss is key. Rather than trying to lose 50 pounds in 50 days, 1 to 2 pounds per week is a much safer and more realistic goal. Increase your protein and fiber intake and decrease sugar intake; this method can help reduce weight little by little. Remember to also complement your diet with an active lifestyle, such as regular exercise.
It would be more beneficial to talk to a Registered Dietitian to find out exactly how many calories you should be eating throughout the day. Then make a realistic plan that can be successful.
From our perspective, the benefits of the coffee diet do not outweigh the risks.
Excessive caffeine consumption is not safe, so if you want to increase your coffee intake because you like the taste, incorporate a decaffeinated version. Since the diet deals more on low-calorie intake, it's better to look up other diets that cover this or talk to your Dietician instead. This way, you'll be sure of the effects and that it's appropriate for you.
Overall, excessive coffee consumption could not be good for your health. Calorie restriction is also not a smart way to lose weight. It might work in the short term, but it could lead to weight gain in the long term when resuming a more liberalized diet.
Weight loss with coffee might sound too good to be true because it probably is. This is just another fad diet that should be avoided.