Caffeine is a stimulant found in some plants and over-the-counter medications - and more widely in processed foods like coffee, teas, sodas and chocolate. Since caffeine is often used to boost your energy, you may also wonder if it can help you lose weight. The verdict?
Some theories suggest that caffeine affects weight by temporarily reducing a person's desire to eat, while also stimulating the body's calorie-burning process (called "thermogenesis"). However, according to the Obesity Action Coalition, there have not been any definitive studies proving the long-term effects of caffeine on weight loss. In addition, the studies that have been done present a lot of variability.
More importantly, caffeine can actually be harmful to the body when used excessively.
Too much caffeine can cause:
Caffeine is also habit-forming, and if you do not maintain your caffeine intake, you may experience withdrawal symptoms, including headache, fatigue and irritability.
The good news?
While there is no nutritional need for caffeine, when used in moderation, it is safe for healthy adults to consume. The U.S. National Library of Medicine cites that 400 milligrams of caffeine per day (approximately four 8-ounce cups of coffee) is considered safe to consume.
If you are looking for a healthier caffeinated beverage to try, green tea has up to 75 percent less than a cup of coffee and contains antioxidants that may actually increase your chance of weight loss.
Of course, be careful and limit caffeinated beverages and snacks containing extra sugar and calories. Chocolate bars can have up to 400 calories, and sugar-sweetened beverages, like specialty coffee shop lattes, can have more than 400 calories and 40 grams of sugar.
Caffeine may not be an answer to weight loss. When you consume it in moderation, you should not need to avoid it. So, keep calm and grab your morning cup of joe!
This article originally appeared in the enewsletter from the Franciscan Health Weight Loss Center in Indianapolis. Sign up to receive monthly weight management tips in your inbox.