When it comes to weight loss, the routine is difficult and tedious. Diet and exercise, while foolproof, is tedious and it can take a long time to see results.
So it is completely understandable when we look for shortcuts that will help us reach our weight loss goals. There is nothing wrong with shortcuts, as long as they work and don’t cause any other problems on the way.
If you are reading this, you are either curious about using Green Coffee Beans as a weight loss supplement, or you are already using it and want to see if it is all worth it.
Below, I examine the theory behind the use of Green Coffee Bean extract as a form of weight loss, as well as the existing research supporting and refuting the claims made on the bottle.
What is it about green coffee beans?
Green coffee bean extract is one of the most popular weight loss supplements in the market. What is it about green coffee beans that seems to make it so great?
Coffee beans, as most people are familiar with them, are dark brown and usually ground up to drink as coffee. Coffee beans aren’t naturally brown, though. In order for them to make coffee, they have to be roasted and ground. Before that, they look are a light green color, which is where the story of this supposed weight loss supplement begins.
As we know, coffee has a powerful component that keeps us awake — caffeine. Caffeine is an antioxidant and a stimulant, and is plays a role in boosting metabolism (1). There is another player in the game we hear less about, but is the focus of the benefits of coffee on weight loss: chlorogenic acid.
Chlorogenic acid is the star in the green coffee bean extract market. The claim is that chlorogenic acid has powerful weight loss effects in the following ways:
- Reduces the amount of carbohydrates absorbed in the digestive tract
- Reduced body weight
- Reduces dietary fat absorption
- Improves cholesterol and triglyceride
- Lowers the risk of heart disease
Why can’t you get the same effect with roasted coffee beans? It turns out that most of the chlorogenic acid is lost in the roasting process (2). Thus, the idea behind making the extract from green coffee beans is in order to maximize the amount of chlorogenic acid in each pill.
So, What Does the Research Say?
First, it is important to not that research about green coffee extract is limited, and the majority of the research is funded by manufacturing companies. One of the principles of good research is that it must be carried out from an impartial point of view. Often, in these cases, research funded by manufacturing companies that doesn’t have an outcome that favors sales mysteriously goes unpublished.
Interestingly enough, existing, though limited, research makes the claims about how green coffee beans promote weight loss look pretty good. First of all, the chlorogenic acid seems to be significantly bioavailable, which means that it is absorbed well by the body (3).
The two main mechanisms through which weight loss with green coffee been extract occurs is through how it impacts glucose and fat absorption and metabolism.
Some research demonstrates how chlorogenic acid may block some glucose absorption across the intestinal wall. In other words, it helps to keep our body from absorbing sugars or carbohydrates thus keeping surplus calories out of our system (4, 5).
The affects on lipid, or fat, absorption are similar. It seems to block fat absorption, while also activating fat metabolism in the liver. This second one means that it helps promote the efficiency with which the liver breaks down bodily fat (6). The third way in which chlorogenic acid might have an effect on lipid metabolism is by helping to regulate hormones that are elevated in obese individuals (7).
Respected medical sites also agree that green coffee bean extract is possibly effective for weight loss when 80-200mg are consumed daily over 12 weeks.
Some of the research limitations were the following:
- Many results in animal trials don’t have the same effects in humans
- The populations are relatively small
- The trials take place under very specific and controlled conditions
- The funding sources for the research is dubious
- The research is still called “preliminary”
What do the Critics Say?
Some manufacturers have claimed that green coffee bean extract can also be used to treat Alzheimer’s disease, type 2 diabetes, and infections. There isn’t enough evidence to support these claims.
Additionally, critics say that the research that supports the effects of green coffee bean extract on weight loss is poorly done, which doesn’t say much about the dependability of the publications.
Are there any side effects?
Clinical studies have not reported any significant side effects related to taking green coffee bean extract. Of course, stimulants like caffeine affect people in different ways, and the most common effects are insomnia, stomach upset, nausea, health palpitations and nervousness.
Additionally, if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have anxiety or bleeding disorders, heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome or if you are at risk for osteoporosis, it is recommended that you avoid starting a green coffee bean extract regimen (8).
So, Should You Go for It?
If you are looking for a surefire supplement to support you in your weight loss journey, I would hold off for a while. Even companies that sell green coffee bean extract are stating that research and full product profiles are still in progress (i.e. still compiling research, or waiting for stronger evidence) (9).
Although it may be tedious, no regimen will work in the long run unless it is accompanied by diet and exercise. Talk to your doctor before taking on any supplement regimen.