What is are we talking about?
Coffee. Or caffeine supplements. Coffee contains caffeine – caffeine has made its way to most commercial fat burning supplements, for good reason. It is one of the few over the counter substances that are known to help mobilize fats from the fat tissues and increase metabolism.
What does it contain?
Coffee contains three main substances for metabolism boosting. Caffeine – a central nervous system stimulant. Theobromine and Theophylline – substances related to caffeine that can also have a stimulant effect.
Caffeine helps fat burning
Caffeine stimulates the nervous system, which sends direct signals to the fat cells to tell them to break down fat (1). Another thing that caffeine does is to increase our blood levels of the hormone Epinephrine, which is also known as Adrenaline (2 & 3). Epinephrine travels through the blood, to the fat tissues and send signals to break down fats and release them into the blood.
Caffeine helps the metabolism
The higher our metabolic rate, the easier it is for us to lose weight and the more we can allow ourselves to eat without gaining. Studies show that caffeine can increase the metabolic rate by 3-11%, with larger doses having an even bigger effect (4 & 5). Interestingly, most of the increase in metabolism is caused by an increase in the burning of fat (6).
Caffeine helps in the gym
Caffeine can improve athletic performance via several mechanisms, one of those being increased mobilization of fatty acids from the fat tissues. Studies show that caffeine can improve exercise performance by 11-12%, on average (7 & 8).
Take home message?
Coffee/caffeine is an inexpensive supplement one can use to improve ones performance and indeed increase fat loss.
1 – Effect of caffeine on the metabolic responses of lipolysis and activated sweat gland density in human during physical activity. Tae-Wook Kim, Young-Oh Shin, Jeong-Beom Lee, Young-Ki Min, Hun-Mo Yang, August 2010.
2 – Caffeine Can Decrease Insulin Sensitivity in Humans, Gerben B. Keijzers, MD1, Bastiaan E. De Galan, MD1, Cees J. Tack, MD1 and Paul Smits, MD12. February 2002.
3 – Effects of caffeine on the metabolic and catecholamine responses to exercise in 5 and 28 degrees C.
Anderson DE1, Hickey MS. April 1994.
4 – Normal caffeine consumption: influence on thermogenesis, AG Duioo, CA Geissler, THorton, A Collins, and DSMiller. 1989.
5 – Comparison of changes in energy expenditure and body temperatures after caffeine consumption.
Koot P1, Deurenberg P. 1995.
6 – Metabolic effects of caffeine in humans: lipid oxidation or futile cycling?1–3 Kevin J Acheson, Gérard Gremaud, Isabelle Meirim, Franck Montigon, Yves Krebs, Laurent B Fay, Louis-Jean Gay, Philippe Schneiter, Charles Schindler, and Luc Tappy, 2004.
7 – Effects of caffeine ingestion on rating of perceived exertion during and after exercise: a meta-analysis, M. Doherty andP. M. Smith. Feb 2005.
8 – Effects of caffeine ingestion on exercise testing: a meta-analysis. Doherty M1, Smith PM. Dec 2004.