As it turns out, our love of coffee isn’t just in our heads. Coffee is quite literally causing us to fall in love with it — and, as a bonus, it’s helping us reach our weight-loss goals in the process.
Read more: The 12 Worst Coffee Drinks to Order
Researchers from the Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China, injected mice with caffeine for two weeks and found that it boosted the release of oxytocin (also known as “the love hormone” or “the cuddle hormone” because it is typically released when people cuddle or bond with each other). That oxytocin boost in turn helped to suppress the tiny rodents’ appetites and motivated them to exercise.
Here’s the more scientific explanation for why caffeine is so great for weight loss: It blocks adenosine receptors in the brain, which play a key role in creating feelings of sleepiness or drowsiness (which is why we drink it first thing in the morning — go figure). When those receptors are blocked, it triggers adrenaline, endorphins and the release of oxytocin in brain cells.
“We found caffeine significantly reduced the food intakes and increased the wheel-running activities of diet-induced obese mice,” said Guo Zhang, the lead author of the study, as reported by The Daily Mail. “Together, the results demonstrate caffeine treatment ameliorates obesity and related illnesses through both the reduction of food intake and the promotion of energy expenditure.”
The new study’s findings further corroborate past studies regarding coffee and weight loss. A 2015 study, for example, found that just a couple of cups of coffee a day helped dieters keep off the pounds once they reached their desired weight, according to The Daily Mail
Of course, the mice’s caffeine doses were extremely high (the equivalent of 24 to 36 cups of coffee for humans), but researchers believe an anti-obesity pill containing high levels of caffeine could be developed to achieve similar results.
Keeping our weight down and exercise motivation up aren’t the only benefits of coffee. A few more perks include staving off Alzheimer’s disease, liver disease, Type 2 diabetes and depression and even lowering the risk of early death.
Maybe all we really need is love and coffee after all.
What Do YOU Think?
Will a study like this or similar studies touting coffee’s health benefits impact your consumption of it? Have you noticed coffee affecting your health, exercise or weight-loss goals? Tell us in the comments!