Does caffeine help with weight loss?
Betty Kovacs, MS, RD
The weight loss industry is estimated to be a $50 billion-a-year industry. Many people are looking for a way to get their piece of the money-making pie without a lot of credibility behind what they are promoting. The supplement industry is constantly promoting a new product to enhance weight loss by increasing satiety or burning fat. The claims are convincing, but the research backing many products is often lacking. To make matters worse, supplements often contain combinations of ingredients in the hopes of enhancing each one's effect without safety or efficacy tests. Caffeine is one of the ingredients now being included in many of the weight loss supplements. It's added for its energy enhancement, appetite suppressant, and "fat-burning" properties.
The scientific evidence about caffeine as a weight control agent is mixed. In a study done to monitor the impact of a green tea-caffeine combination on weight loss and maintenance, participants were divided into those who consume low levels of caffeine (<300 mg/day) and high-caffeine consumers (>300 mg/day). Weight loss was significantly higher in the high-caffeine consumption group, but weight maintenance was higher in the low-caffeine consumption group. The conclusion was that the caffeine was related to greater weight loss, higher thermogenesis, and fat oxidation, while the tea was responsible for the greater weight maintenance. Other studies have stated that caffeine actually contributes to weight gain by increasing stress hormones. It appears that caffeine's role in weight loss is as inconclusive as the efficacy of the majority of weight loss supplements on the market.