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Can Coffee Actually Help You Lose Weight?

Coffee: whether you see it as brown sludge, or a cup of gold, there's no doubt each side has some strong advocates. 

Whether or not coffee is good for you seems to be a subjective question, and really depends on the person. If you have poor caffeine metabolism, then your best bet is to stay away. But if you can tolerate coffee, is there any benefit? And better yet, can it impact your fitness goals?

Can  Coffee Actually Help You Lose Weight?

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But before we get started, let's remember that we're talking about coffee in the coffee-only form–no sugar, no heavy cream. Sorry to all the frappucino, pumpkin-spiced latte readers out there (but if you are, check here for a healthy version!). 

First, let's look at some of the reasons coffee is a good part of a healthy diet. 

1. It can help increase metabolic rate.

Your metabolic rate is how you burn energy at rest. For many, coffee will increase your ability to burn energy throughout the day. 

The caveat:  this is not necessarily an effective long-term strategy as your body will likely get used to it! So try caffeine cycling for the best effects. 

2. It can reduce cravings and curb hunger.

There's a reason why people who take part in intermittent fasting are avid coffee drinkers. It helps to curb hunger and even general cravings (like that high-calorie, mid-afternoon snack). 

Can  Coffee Actually Help You Lose Weight?

3. It's a great pre-workout.

Not a fan of powdered pre-workouts? That's alright! Coffee is an awesome natural alternative, and if you need a few carbohydrates, add a small tsp. of maple syrup

4. It might not actually be dehydrating you after all. 

We've always been told that coffee is dehydrating. Turns out, there's research that has been done that shows that under 6 cups of coffee per day may not actually impact our levels of dehydration (as long as you're pairing it with adequate amounts of pure water intake). 

Note: that's not our permission to go drink 6 cups of coffee. 

5. It might stimulate thermogenesis. 

Thermogenesis is a term that describes a state where our bodies burn calories to make heat (i.e. exercise). Coffee can stimulate thermogenesis in the body, boosting calorie burning. 

Guess what, certain foods are actually thermogenic too, like protein and coconut oil. 

6. It helps you... you know, #2. 

Coffee can help peristalsis (the action that makes food move in your digestive tract) in your colon.

Can Coffee Actually Help You Lose Weight? 

Some reasons why coffee might not be so good. 

1. It can increase your cortisol levels. 

Coffee stimulates something called your adrenals, which produces cortisol (a stress hormone). When you undergo stress, your body tries to hold onto fat in a fight-or-flight response to protect your organs from injury. 

2. It can trigger anxiety in people who are sensitive to caffeine. 

If your cortisol levels are already high because you have a presentation at work, a project deadline, you didn't really sleep last night, and you're on coffee cup number 4 before noon, well, that's a recipe for anxious thoughts and feelings. 

For those with a caffeine sensitivity (or when you've had a little too much), this can be heightened. 

If you need a caffeine hit, but want to avoid those jittery feelings, try a mushroom coffee blend, matcha or green tea. While you do get a boost from caffeine, green tea (also found in matcha), has calming effects, and the mushroom blend (like ones found from Four Sigmatic) blend adaptogens that are geared to helping you reduce stress. 

3. Drinking coffee too late can lead to poor sleep. 

... and a poor sleep can lead to carbohydrate cravings, and a heightened sense of hunger the next day. 

If you are affected by coffee, know your limits! Try to have your last cup of coffee at least 6 hours prior to your bed time to ensure it's out of your system. 

Talk to a personal trainer about how you can maximize your nutrition to meet your fitness goals!

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