Coffee offers a wealth of health benefits. There's its well-known ability to temporarily boost concentration and alertness, and drinking coffee might also lower your risk of liver disease and type 2 diabetes, explains the Linus Pauling Institute.
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Try substituting black coffee for weight loss — it's a healthier alternative to coffee flavored with calorie-laden cream and sugar. Just make sure you don't overdo it — too much caffeine can have negative health effects.
While black coffee by itself probably won't cause significant weight loss, substituting it for your favorite sugary coffee drink will cut overall calories.
Read more: 14 Legit Ways Coffee Can Boost Your Health
Black Coffee for Weight Loss
If you drink coffee, serving it black is your best option for weight loss. Black coffee is calorie-free — it's the cream and sugar that can pack on the pounds. A single cup of coffee with 2 teaspoons of sugar and an ounce of half-and-half has 72 calories, according to the USDA.
And because the average American drinks roughly 3 cups of coffee a day, that adds up to an extra 216 calories. If you were to switch from coffee with sugar and cream to black coffee every day for a year, you'd save more than 78,000 calories — the equivalent of just over 22 pounds of fat.
Potential Benefits from Caffeine
Caffeine might also offer some calorie-burning benefits that help your weight-loss efforts, but it's too early to say for sure. One laboratory study, published in Food & Function in September 2012, found that caffeine boosted thermogenesis — a phenomenon that helps you burn more calories.
While there's some potential for the caffeine in coffee to help you lose weight, you shouldn't count on coffee alone as a weight-loss strategy, at least until more research has been done.
Black Coffee and Weight Loss
There's also some evidence linking coffee itself to weight loss and weight control. One study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology in April 2015, studied the dietary habits of more than 93,000 people to look for patterns between coffee consumption and weight. The study authors observed that people who drank more coffee had a lower risk of obesity, as well as a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
A study with laboratory animals, published in Nutrition & Diabetes in June 2014, found that mice that consumed coffee and were fed a high-fat diet gained weight more slowly than the mice that didn't drink coffee.
Observational research and animal studies aren't bulletproof evidence that coffee will help you shed pounds, but they hint that it might offer weight-loss benefits.
Read more: How Many Cups of Coffee Can You Drink a Day?
Drawbacks of Coffee
Even if you're drinking calorie-free black coffee, you should stick to a moderate intake to avoid taking in too much caffeine. While small amounts of caffeine might boost thermogenesis, too much can make you jittery, interrupt your sleep and cause anxiety, depression or a fast heart rate.
According to Mayo Clinic, up to 400 milligrams — approximately 4 to 5 cups of coffee daily — is the recommended upper limit for caffeine intake. If you're drinking more than 3 cups daily, choose decaf coffee for the extra cups.
- Linus Pauling Institute: "Coffee"
- Food & Function: "Caffeine Dose-Dependently Induces Thermogenesis but Restores ATP in HepG2 Cells in Culture"
- International Journal of Epidemiology: "Coffee Intake and Risk of Obesity, Metabolic Syndrome and Type 2 Diabetes: a Mendelian Randomization Study"
- Nutrition & Diabetes: "Effect of Chronic Coffee Consumption on Weight Gain and Glycaemia in a Mouse Model of Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes"
- Mayo Clinic: "Caffeine: How Much Is Too Much?"
- USDA National Nutrient Database: "Cream, Fluid, Half and Half"
- USDA National Nutrient Database: "Sugars, Granulated"