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Coffee And Weight Loss: Does It Really Work?

Written by Jim Duncan, MSW | Last updated:

Coffee is a popular morning beverage around the world, but is there a connection between coffee and weight loss? Does coffee help you lose weight? Your DNA may play a role.

An Introduction to Coffee and Weight Loss

The new Starbucks Weight Loss Clinic! No, that’s not a real thing, but if coffee had a direct relationship to weight loss, you can bet there’d be scales in every one and there would be some kind of coffee reward system related to losing weight.

You would see ads everywhere for the “best” coffee for weight loss. None of this exists for a reason. Coffee alone doesn’t cause you to lose weight, no matter how much you drink.

Coffee itself is actually fairly good for you, with numerous potential health benefits [1]. It does promote weight loss efforts, more so for some than others, but the key word there, as you might expect, is “efforts” [2]. What you do and how you do it will have an impact on how much you can justify the morning drive through at the coffee shop.

Weight Loss Is Difficult

Losing weight is a real struggle for many people, that goes far beyond just eating better. Genetics are involved. Mental health is involved. Physical health is involved. Environmental factors are involved. There is seldom a simple or single answer for anyone. This is why it can be so difficult.

People want the simple, single solution. They want to be told, “Do this, and you will achieve that,” and when they actually do the thing, they will achieve their goal.

Products try to take advantage of that mentality. What they should be telling people is that it’s all one big, complicated puzzle of ever-shifting and changing pieces, and they are but one element of solving it. Of course, nobody wants to hear or say that.

Often, weight loss is a continual chain of attempts and failures, of partial successes and setbacks, and that may often feel frustrating, especially when you don’t know where to start.

Good health is a constant effort, and usually, all you can do is optimize your efforts to move toward that goal. To that end, coffee is one small piece of the puzzle.

However! You must begin somewhere and make the effort, because very few people in this world are fortunate enough to be able to naturally metabolize modern day living.

It’s Easy To Be Overweight

We live in a world of convenient, processed foods, that makes eating poorly a relatively easy thing to do.

You might think that would mean there’s a huge disparity in obesity across income levels, but the statistics don’t bear that out [3]. Expensive, quality-made foods can be just as loaded up on sugars and carbs and fats, and in portions that far exceed the needed caloric intake.

Modern life is increasingly sedentary. Being “active” is increasingly not a normal part of everyday life. You have to make an effort to do it. Thus, the path of least resistance these days is to eat too much unhealthy food and do nothing to burn it off.

Maintaining a healthy weight takes some conscious effort, and so it should be no surprise that becoming overweight is not hard at all.

Does Coffee Help You Lose Weight?

If you looked up the chemical composition of coffee, you’d be equal parts, “Really?” and “Ewww.” [4]. Beyond the caffeine we all drink it for, it actually has a decent amount of antioxidants which provide additional benefits [5, 6, 7].

What you get out of your coffee depends a lot on its roast, freshness, and what you put in it (i.e. sugar).

So, how does coffee help you with weight loss?

The caffeine blocks adenosine, which makes you sleepy, and raises adrenaline, which gives you energy. It’s a metabolism booster.

While this can have short term benefits to focus and wakefulness, it also, for some, can provide an additional boost to losing weight by elevating the effects of exercise. It’s that whole effort thing again – you still need to do your part.

Now, is there such a thing as fat burning coffee? Well, coffee helps thermogenesis, which means dissipating energy through heat. This feeds off of fat-burning instead of carb burning [8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13].

For many, weight loss can become a struggle between burning carbs versus burning fats. When you are overweight, you want to burn fat, and coffee actually helps with that.

Can Genetics Influence Your Response To Coffee and Weight Loss?

You have a lot of genes involved in your metabolism, and so you could have any number of gene variants that could impact your ability to gain or lose weight. That said, there is one variant that may be linked to coffee’s ability to aid in your weight loss efforts.

The variant is located in the UCP2 gene. The gene makes a protein that is found mostly in muscle tissues and helps the body produce heat without shivering.

Interestingly, it is not the caffeine in coffee that interacts with it, but the polyphenols [14]. It is these compounds that make UCP2 more active. If you have the variant that limits its expression, you may want to consider coffee to boost its activity.

Please note: If you’re pregnant, limit caffeine to 200 mg per day [15].

What Do Your Genes Have to Say About Coffee and Weight Loss?

Worrying about your weight is a normal thing to do. After all, obesity may increase your risk of:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Heart disease
  • Sleep problems
  • Reproductive issues
  • Joint and bone disorders

And that’s only to name a few.

Yes, you gain weight when you consume more calories than you burn. But if your genes make it harder for you to manage your weight, you may feel like you’re fighting a losing battle.

Instead of a trial and error approach from the generic advice you find on the internet, why not give yourself an advantage and see what your DNA has to say about it?

Your genes can influence how you respond to coffee and weight loss. We’ve discussed here how coffee can have an impact on the UCP2 gene to help boost its activity. But the truth is that there are many other variants that can affect weight.

For example, RGS6 is another one that can play a role in weight gain. A variant of this gene can worsen the effect of stress on weight gain [16]. If that’s your case, practicing mindfulness or yoga may be a better choice for you than the coffee and weight loss combination.

So, how can you know what strategies may work best for you based on your genes? By getting your DNA tested with SelfDecode! The SelfDecode Weight Wellness Report looks at over 455,000 genetic variants and gives you prioritized recommendations based on your DNA.

Coffee and weight loss recommendations based on DNA

By using artificial intelligence and machine learning, SelfDecode can give you the most accurate results to help you achieve your health goals. You can easily see which recommendation works best for you, and what the science has to say about it.

Concluding Remarks About Coffee and Weight Loss

There are many factors that can influence your weight, including genetics. When it comes to coffee and weight loss, your genes may play a role in how well you respond to this and other strategies. If you want to know more about what your DNA has to say about your weight, plus get personalized recommendations to help you optimize your health, you should check out SelfDecode.

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About the Author

Jim Duncan

Jim completed his M.S.W. in Social Work Administration at Portland State University. He has always been interested in analyzing social issues, and he helped fund and start a program against domestic violence. He has also conducted many public speaking sessions about violence against women, and published 3 fiction novels. Inspired by SelfDecode’s mission to make precision health a reality, he decided to use his natural writing ability to help teach the world about the power and promise of genomics. His areas of interest include science-based writing,  astronomy, and genomics.


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