In one of our last articles, we talked about a popular weight loss supplement called garcinia cambogia. As promised, this week we’ll look at another supplement that’s attracting lots of attention recently – green coffee bean extract.
Before looking further, we want to remind you that we don’t believe weight loss supplements are the key to successful, long-term weight loss. Even if a supplement gives you an “edge” and helps you lose a few pounds, you’ll gain it back unless you adopt healthy eating habits and commit to exercising regularly. Research has repeatedly shown this. It’s also validated by what Dr. A sees in practice and what I saw when I was practicing full-time.
In general, we’re not big advocates of weight loss supplements. The majority have minimal impact on weight loss and lots of possible side effects. What’s more concerning is some supplements have only been studied in animals. Any human studies have been small and short in duration. Still, we’re willing to keep an open mind. Our goal is to educate you about the most popular supplements and help you cut through the hype.
What is Green Coffee Bean Extract?
The hot cup of coffee you drink in the morning comes from a berry called the coffee berry. The coffee beans (which are actually coffee berries) you buy at the supermarket for your morning cup of Joe have been roasted. It’s roasting that brings out the flavor of the coffee you sip first thing in the morning. The coffee beans used to make green coffee bean extract have not been roasted. They’re still “green.”
In this case, green may be better. Green coffee beans have substantial levels of a natural chemical called chlorogenic acid. Some studies suggest that chlorogenic acid has health benefits. Unfortunately, roasting coffee beans destroys some of the chlorogenic acid. In fact, green coffee beans have twice the amount of chlorogenic acid as roasted beans.
How might green coffee bean extract help with weight loss? It seems to block an enzyme the liver uses to produce glucose. When the liver can’t produce glucose, your body turns to fat stores to use for energy.
Sounds good in theory – but does it work?
Does Green Coffee Bean Extract Help with Weight Loss?
In one study involving 16 adults, participants that took green coffee bean extract for 22 weeks lost an average of 8 pounds. Another study involving 50 overweight adults was also encouraging. Over a period of 60 days participants taking green tea extract lost almost 6% of their body weight. It’s also encouraging that participants in both studies lost body fat while retaining lean muscle mass. These are certainly not large studies, by any means, but they are human studies and the results are favorable.
Does Green Coffee Bean Extract Have Other Health Benefits?
Here’s where it gets interesting. Several small studies show green coffee bean extract lowers systolic blood pressure (the upper number). How does it do this? The theory is green coffee bean extract decreases the resistance inside blood vessels and helps them relax.
Other preliminary research shows green coffee bean extract seems to help with blood sugar control. People taking it in studies experienced a more favorable blood glucose response when they challenged their system with sugar.
We need to emphasize that these were small studies. It’s too soon to say that green coffee bean extract is beneficial for people with high blood pressure or diabetes but it looks promising. Not to mention chlorogenic acid is an antioxidant. Antioxidants help protect cells against free radical damage. Free radical damage is believed to play a role in aging and may be a contributing factor to some chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.
Safety of Green Coffee Bean Extract
Green coffee bean extract also contains caffeine. That could be a problem for people who are caffeine sensitive. According to the NYU Langone Medical Center, green coffee bean extract is about 10% caffeine. The amount of caffeine in the recommended dose of green coffee bean extract is roughly equal to the caffeine in a fifth of a cup of coffee. It’s a small amount but if you’re exquisitely sensitive to caffeine, it could be a problem.
With the exception of mild stomach upset, no significant side effects of green coffee bean extract have been reported. The thing that bothers us is the studies we’ve mentioned have been short term. Are there potential side effects that won’t show up for months or years down the line? It would be more reassuring if there were longer term studies – but there aren’t – yet.
What’s Our Assessment?
Of all the weight loss supplements we’ve looked at, green coffee bean extract seems to have the highest benefit to risk ratio. It may not cause dramatic weight loss, but it seems be safe short term. Safety should be foremost in your mind when you’re considering taking a supplement.
Are we proponents of green coffee bean extract? As mentioned, we’d rather see people lose weight by making healthier lifestyle choices – giving up soft drinks, fast food, added sugar and processed food – and from being more active. If future studies show coffee bean extract is safe and effective, it may be an adjunct to eating healthy and exercise – but not a replacement.
Have you ever tried a weight loss supplement? What was your experience?
Science Daily. “New Evidence That Natural Substances in Green Coffee Beans Help Control Blood Sugar Levels”
NYU Langone Medical Center. “Green Coffee Bean Extract”
Medical Prescribing Reference.”Green Coffee Extract: A Weight Loss Aid?”