Can Caffeine Help You Lose Weight?

Woman holding coffee mug outdoors

Coffee is a great way to start your morning and the hot mug warms up your hands when it’s cold outside. But could the caffeine in that cup also help you lose weight? 

Claims of Weight Loss With Caffeine

When it comes to the connection between caffeine and weight loss, there are three common claims:

  1. Research suggests that consuming caffeine can jumpstart your metabolism and help you burn fat. One study, for example, found that in the three hours after consuming coffee, metabolic rates were significantly higher in those who drank coffee than those who did not.
  2. Another common belief is that caffeine boosts your energy level. The theory here is that the energy boost will make you more motivated to exercise, help you exercise for a longer time, or both. In fact, the International Olympic Committee puts a limit on caffeine intake for athletes to eliminate any unfair advantage.
  3. Coffee is often cited as an appetite suppressant. This suggests that drinking the caffeinated beverage could lead you to eat less.

It’s definitely tempting to believe that caffeine is the answer to your weight-loss woes. But there are several reasons why consuming caffeine won’t necessarily lead to shedding those extra pounds. Plus, consuming too much caffeine can be dangerous. 

Studies do show that caffeine intake can increase your metabolism, but the effects only last for a few hours are much less pronounced in obese people. In other words, people who need to lose significant amounts of weight are much less likely to have their metabolism boosted by caffeine.

As for exercise performance, studies really only show that caffeine can help boost energy for short workouts (about five minutes) and for endurance exercise done by trained athletes. There isn’t much evidence that caffeine has a positive effect on mid-length, moderate workouts.

The appetite suppression claim is probably just that, a claim. Most studies suggest that drinking coffee has little to no effect on participants' appetite. Other studies suggest that findings are ambiguous and uncertain. This is probably because there are many variables that can affect results. For example, when coffee was consumed and how much coffee is consumed can affect results.. More research needs to be done in this area.

Even if caffeine does help some with weight loss, it’s likely that any positive effects would be outweighed by the extra calories people tend to consume when they get caffeine in the form of sweet beverages. Coffee and tea that are filled with additives, like cream, sugar, and syrups, can be be rich in calories, sugar, and fat. Ultimately, they become unhealthy choices.

Caffeine is also a diuretic which means it will contribute to losing some water weight on a short-term basis, but too much can be dangerous in the long-run. Always be sure to stay hydrated.

Here are some coffee-friendly tips and tricks:

  • If you get your caffeine from coffee, be aware of what else you're taking in. A lot of coffee drinks are packed with calories, fat, and sugar.
  • When you’re on the go, follow these tips. Order your drinks with low-fat or non-fat milk, skip on added sugars, or reduce your current amount. If you normally use two sugars, cut down to one and plan on reducing incrementally until you need to use none. For those people who are looking for a calorie-free alternative, non-nutritive sweeteners may be an option. Keep in mind that they are much sweeter tasting than regular sugar, so you shouldn't need much to add sweetness.
  • If you make your cup of joe at home, consider drinking it black or with just a dash of milk. If you prefer a hint of sweetness, consider a natural no-calorie sweetener, such as stevia.
2 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Schubert MM, Grant G, Horner K, et al. Coffee for morning hunger pangs. An examination of coffee and caffeine on appetite, gastric emptying, and energy intake. Appetite. 2014;83:317-26. doi 10.1016/j.appet.2014.09.006

  2. Schubert MM, Irwin C, Seay RF, Clarke HE, Allegro D, Desbrow B. Caffeine, coffee, and appetite control: a review. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2017;68(8):901-912. doi:10.1080/09637486.2017.1320537

By Lisa Lillien
Lisa Lillien is a New York Times bestselling author and the creator of Hungry Girl, where she shares healthy recipes and realistic tips and tricks.