This article has been Fact-Checked by Kendall Kennedy MS, RD, RYT
You might have heard that caffeine is good for weight loss. If you use it right it can be but caffeine can set you back if you use it wrong.
Caffeine is part of some very popular drinks like coffee, tea, sodas and energy drinks. For a lot of people it has the possibility to burn some extra calories. For others it can be better to avoid it altogether.
Ways caffeine can benefit weight loss
Caffeine can benefit your weight loss because of the 2 following reasons.
Speed up metabolism
Your metabolism is the amount of calories you burn each day.
This won’t come down to 100’s of calories a day. Caffeine alone will probably not get you to your end goal but small bits do add up.
Can reduce appetite
Caffeine may also help you reduce appetite.
The available research does not really confirm the claim that caffeine reduces appetite.
Caffeine can also be bad for weight loss
That being said, you need to keep some things in mind when using caffeine for weight loss. Some people shouldn’t even consume any at all.
Consume early enough
Caffeine is a stimulant, it can help you feel less tired. However, there is a part of the day you want to feel tired.
Sleep is an important part of weight loss. If you consume caffeine too late in the day it can mess up both your sleep duration and quality.
Caffeine has a half life of about 5-6 hours, this varies from person person. That means that it takes about 5-6 hours for half the amount of caffeine you consumed to leave your body.
For that reason it’s recommended to avoid any foods or drinks with caffeine at least 8 hours before bed.
Daily limit of caffeine
There are recommended daily limits for caffeine. About 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine a day appears to be safe for most healthy adults. This comes down to about 3-4 cups of coffee or about 9-12 cups of green tea a day (depending on brands).
Going over that daily limit can make you experience the following side effects:
- Frequent urination or inability to control urination
- Fast heartbeat
- Muscle tremors
This daily limit varies from person to person. If you notice any of these things happening to you, you can reduce your caffeine intake and see if you notice any improvements.
Some people should avoid it altogether
There are groups of people that can benefit from avoiding caffeine altogether:
- People who are pregnant
- People who take medication (some medication doesn’t combine well with caffeine, talk to your primary care provider)
- People with an irregular heartbeat
- People who feel anxious
There are also genes that can have an impact on how well your body processes caffeine. If you have the genes that predict worse caffeine processing even a small cup of coffee in the morning can disrupt your sleep.
For people like this it might be better to avoid caffeine altogether.
Common caffeine sources
So caffeine can benefit your weight loss if you consume it the right way. How can you get an extra amount of it?
There are good and bad sources to get extra caffeine. Find out why and the quantites of caffeine in them.
Caffeine sources good for weight loss
Black coffee is one of the better sources available of caffeine for weight loss.
The amount of caffeine in coffee varies between different roasts but you can expect about 100-200 mg of caffeine in one cup. Even decaffeinated coffee contains some caffeine, about 5% of regular coffee. Again, depending on roast.
If you consume coffee for weight loss just make sure you’re not adding any calories or sweeteners like sugar, cream and artificial sweeteners.
The next good source of caffeine is green tea. It’s true that a cup of green tea contains less caffeine (24-40 mg) than a cup of coffee but this drink has some other substances beneficial for weight loss.
Green tea also contains antioxidants called catechins. One of these is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a substance that can boost metabolism.
70%+ cacao chocolate
A lot of people are not that aware of it but dark chocolate contains caffeine.
The exact amount differs from brand to brand but in a one ounce serving (28 grams) you can expect about 25 mg of caffeine.
The calories from 70%+ cacao chocolate are healthy fats which is better than sugar. However, this food still contains a rather large amount of calories (+-550 calories/100 grams) so don’t overdo it.
Caffeine sources bad for weight loss
Coffee mixes with a lot of added sugar, cream and artifical sweeteners are very common.
All the bad ingredients in it will probably outweigh the potential benefits of the caffeine in it.
Sodas and energy drinks
These drinks are fairly obvious but still worth mentioning. Sodas and energy drinks contain crazy amounts of bad stuff.
If you’re looking to lose weight and get healthier sodas and energy drinks are the first thing you want to stop consuming.
Caffeine weight loss pills and supplements?
There are a lot of different caffeine weight loss pills and supplements but there are a few general concerns with these things.
Not all the exact ingredients are always clear in supplements. Sometimes there are some eyebrow-raising ingredients in them.
Secondly, the long-term effects of them are not completely clear.
For your health it’s usually better to go for more natural sources.
Conclusion on caffeine for weight loss
Extra caffeine alone will probably not get you to your weight loss goals. That being said, it can provide you some help if you consume it the right way.
Coffee and green tea contain caffeine and water. Drinking water can help you lose weight too so these drinks might be great additions to your weight loss diet.
If you keep your caffeine intake reasonable and smart it can help you burn some extra calories likely without any disadvantages.