Caffeine has been a subject of debate for quite some time. It can easily qualify as the most popular stimulant and in the recent years, the most popular drug used in weight loss supplements across the globe. However, it popularity is not without the streak of controversaries. According to some, caffeine possesses the ability to increase your metabolic rate, making weight loss faster and easier. It’s also supposed to boost your performance in the gym. On the other hand, caffeine opponents believe that it tends to make you hungrier by triggering a rise, followed by a sharp fall, in blood sugar levels.
Confused, already? Read on to know the effect of caffeine on your body weight.
Caffeine is basically a chemical compound (alkaloid) found in coffee, tea , chocolates and certain energy drinks. Guarana, a prime ingredient of energy drinks, contains large amounts of caffeine. There is no doubt that caffeine has a vital role to play as a central nervous system and metabolic stimulant and is frequently used both recreationally and medically to reduce physical fatigue and restore mental alertness among patients. It is however the role of caffeine in helping you to lose weight, which needs consideration and is the subject of debate here.
Caffeine is often an ingredient in popular weight-loss formulas. Since caffeine is a stimulant, it is obviously thought that it enhances fat metabolism and may encourage weight loss. Many people believe their daily mug of coffee or other caffeinated drinks may help them to lose weight or keep weight off. However, the diuretic effect of caffeine is what appears to create weight loss, and this causes loss of water, not fat. Reputable practitioners, like the Mayo Clinic, debunk the myth of caffeine for weight loss and discourage its use as a weight loss aid.
The use of so-called weight loss supplements is generally discouraged by medical fraternity as they have negative health effects and for the weight loss to be sustained, they may have to be taken on a long-term basis.
ü Caffeine intake often perpetuates many of the factors which may contribute to weight gain and obesity. Excessive and uncontrolled caffeine intake may aggravate stress, leading to increased levels of the glucocorticoids such as cortisol. These hormones are the ones which are responsible for increased heart rate, blood pressure, and a sense of “emergency alert”. The purpose of this “fight or flight” response is to provide the body with a temporary energy boost for intense physical activity. But in today’s sedentary life, this may create health problems.
ü The continual state of increased stress resulting from caffeine consumption can negatively affect weight control through disruptions in normal metabolism.
ü Chronically elevated blood cortisol levels that are caused by frequent stress or regular caffeine or coffee intake lead to an increased buildup of fat in the abdominal area; this type of weight gain further stimulates the release of additional stress hormones and the cycle continues.
ü Stress, especially emotional stress also triggers bingeing tendencies and cravings, especially for fat and sugar laden foods, which are related to increased caloric intake and weight gain.
ü Excessive caffeine ingestion contributes to insulin resistance and impairs glucose and insulin homeostasis as part of the stress response. Drinking excess coffee can cause insomnia and sleep deprivation, both of which have been found to increase insulin resistance
ü Although caffeine is included as an ingredient in many weight-loss aids, it actually stimulates appetite. Initially, caffeine may decrease appetite through its central nervous system response. However, subsequently caffeine increases cortisol levels, and research has pointed that higher levels of cortisol stimulate appetite.
ü Caffeine triggers activation of the sympathetic nervous system and the adrenal glands, causing an immediate and sustained constriction of blood vessels, decreased circulation to the brain and a heightened feeling of low blood sugar. The body’s reaction to low blood glucose levels result in food cravings and increased appetite. People often crave higher fat foods resulting in increased caloric intake, further interfering with the body’s ability to maintain a healthy weight.
ü GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid) is a neurotransmitter naturally produced in the brain and nervous system as well as the heart. It plays an important role in mood and stress management and influences a person’s sense of well-being. Caffeine has been found to interfere with binding of GABA to GABA receptors, preventing it from performing its calming function and thus increasing stress and stress related eating disorders.
It might appear from the above that caffeine in any form is bad and should be strictly avoided. But that’s absolutely not true. . It is the excess intake of caffeine( above 500mg of caffeine per day as in 6-7 cups of coffee per day or 3-4 cans of red bull), which has been associated with adverse health consequences. Caffeine in moderate and controlled amounts under guided supervision of a nutritionist or a physician, who understands your body chemistry and nutritional needs may not affect your health adversely and at times, may even help in achieving weight loss. Caffeine, if used in conjunction with overall correct eating regime and regular exercises may be beneficial to uplift your moods and boost your energy levels and also assist in improved exercise performance and better metabolic rate.