Does Coffee Make You Gain Weight? Real Facts And Benefits

Reviewed by Garima Singh, MSc, DNHE, DDHN
Written by Ravi Teja Tadimalla, Professional Certificate In Food, Nutrition & Health

Many of us love to start our day with a cup of coffee. Also, countless people sip on this refreshing beverage throughout the day. But do you know the role of caffeine in weight loss? Many people claim that coffee makes you gain weight. Is that true?

Does caffeine have an impact on body weight? Do you need to stop drinking coffee and restrict your caffeine intake to shed those pounds? Find out the answers to your questions in the article. Read on.

Does Coffee Make You Gain Weight? Here Is What You Need To Know

Yes, excess coffee intake may lead to weight gain. This is primarily due to its caffeine content. An average person consumes about 300 mg of caffeine every day, mainly through coffee, chocolate, soft drinks, tea, and energy drinks (1).

This caffeine intake keeps increasing with bigger servings and stronger roasts. Studies show that acute caffeine intake may increase blood sugar levels and prolong the period of the increased sugar levels (2). Increased blood sugar can also increase insulin levels and cortisol levels, resulting in low metabolic activity and weight gain.

Insulin is the hormone that regulates carbohydrates and fat metabolism in your body (3). Elevated levels of insulin can make the cells less sensitive to its signals (insulin resistance). It is important for the cells to be insulin sensitive if you want to lose weight or prevent the accumulation of calories. Coffee can reduce insulin sensitivity, cause weight gain, and increase diabetes risk.

But does this mean you must give up on coffee to lose weight? Let us understand.

Do You Need To Stop Drinking Coffee To Lose Weight?

No. Drinking coffee is fine as long as you don’t over consume it. Limit its intake to about 2 to 3 cups a day. Excess coffee intake can stall your weight loss journey. Read on to understand how.

Why Drinking Too Much Caffeine Can Stall Weight Loss

How the body responds to caffeine depends on one’s health, body mass, and metabolism. Every person metabolizes caffeine at a different rate.

Individuals with faster metabolism absorb the antioxidants in coffee quickly and get it out of the system. But those with slow metabolism hold the caffeine in the system for longer. This can elevate blood sugar levels and may increase abdominal fat.

However, regardless of how fast or slow your body metabolizes caffeine, too much coffee can derail your weight loss goals.

Besides caffeine, the other ingredients in your coffee could also lead to weight gain. In the next section, we will explore these ingredients and the other reasons your coffee could be making you gain weight.

Reasons Your Coffee Is Making You Gain Weight

  • Sugar Syrups And Add-Ins

Relishing coffee with excess sugar syrup or any other sweet ingredient can add more calories

  • Larger Serving

A large coffee serving loaded with sweet ingredients can cause weight gain if consumed every day.

  • Whipped Cream

Whipped cream can enhance the coffee’s taste, but it also increases calories.

  • Sweetened Milk

Coffee enriched with almond milk, oat milk, etc. is high in sugar. In addition, flavored milk may contain added sugar.

  • Bottled Coffee

Bottle coffee may be a convenient option to enjoy a quick drink, but it is loaded with sugar.

  • Full-Fat Milk And Sugar

Coffee made with full-fat milk and sugar is way higher in calories.

Note: Not just sugars, even the amount of caffeine intake may affect your weight loss efforts.

Knowing the upper limit of your caffeine intake helps you relish your coffee without having to worry about weight gain. Continue reading to know the ideal caffeine dosage.

Upper Limits: The Ideal Dose Of Caffeine In Weight Loss

Research suggests that 400 mg or less of caffeine per day is an acceptable dose for healthy adults (4). One serving (180 ml) of brewed coffee normally contains about 100 mg of caffeine (5). You may want to keep those values in mind before picking your next cup of coffee.

Benefits Of Drinking Coffee

Studies suggest that regular coffee drinkers have a lower risk of developing type-2 diabetes (6). Moreover, its caffeine content stimulates the nervous system besides increasing adrenaline and cortisol levels in the body (7), (8), (9).

Consuming caffeine in low doses may also help refresh your senses, reduce anxiety, and elevate mood (10). The polyphenols present in coffee have antioxidant properties. These plant compounds may reduce inflammation and oxidative stress — the two factors which are responsible for causing many ailments, including obesity (11), (12).

Studies indicate that long-term coffee intake may reduce the risk of stroke (modestly), heart disease, and certain cancers (13), (14), (15). Besides, this beverage is also known to lower estrogen levels, which may help reduce the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women (16).

Coffee intake is also associated with a reduced risk of gallstones in your body (17). Besides, studies suggest that caffeine may also reduce the incidence of Parkinson’s disease in healthy individuals. It may also slow down the progression of motor symptoms in those already affected (18). Research also reveals that higher coffee intake may reduce the risk of all-cause mortality. Similarly, drinking coffee moderately (3 cups/day) may also decrease the risk of CVD mortality (19).

Although moderate consumption of coffee may not lead to weight gain, having excess coffee makes you gain weight. This is because the sugar syrups, add-ons, larger servings, whipped cream, sweetened milk, full-fat milk, and sugar increase the calorie content of coffee. However, if taken in moderate amounts, coffee can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, stroke, and cancer. It also reduces inflammation and oxidative stress. But these benefits are associated with moderate consumption of coffee, which amounts to 2 to 3 cups per day.

Key Takeaways

  • Excessive coffee intake may lead to weight gain due to its caffeine content.
  • However, reduce your coffee consumption to 2-3 cups a day to lose weight.
  • Caffeine retains in slow metabolism systems, increasing blood sugar, insulin, and abdominal fat.
  • Caffeine in moderation stimulates the nervous system, decreases anxiety, and reduces the chance of certain medical issues.

References:

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  1. Acute caffeine ingestion reduces insulin sensitivity in healthy subjects: a systematic review and meta-analysis
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC5192567/
  2. The effect of acute caffeine intake on insulin sensitivity and glycemic control in people with diabetes
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28935543/
  3. Hormonal interactions in carbohydrate metabolism
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/821893/
  4. The Safety of Ingested Caffeine: A Comprehensive Review
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC5445139/
  5. Caffeine: Cognitive and Physical Performance Enhancer or Psychoactive Drug?
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC4462044/
  6. Coffee to reduce risk of type 2 diabetes?: a systematic review
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22497654/
  7. Caffeine
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK519490/
  8. Cortisol responses to mental stress exercise and meals following caffeine intake in men and women
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC2249754/
  9. Caffeine: Cognitive and Physical Performance Enhancer or Psychoactive Drug?
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC4462044/
  10. Caffeine consumption and self-assessed stress anxiety and depression in secondary school children
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC4668773/
  11. Do Coffee Polyphenols Have a Preventive Action on Metabolic Syndrome Associated Endothelial Dysfunctions? An Assessment of the Current Evidence
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29401716/
  12. Oxidative Stress in Obesity: A Critical Component in Human Diseases
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC4307252/
  13. Coffee consumption and risk of stroke in women
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC2729465/
  14. Long-term coffee consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease: a systematic review and a dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24201300/
  15. Coffee drinking and cancer risk: an umbrella review of meta-analyses of observational studies
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC7003434/
  16. High coffee intake but not caffeine is associated with reduced estrogen receptor negative and postmenopausal breast cancer risk with no effect modification by CYP1A2 genotype
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23530639/
  17. Systematic review with meta-analysis: coffee consumption and the risk of gallstone disease
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26198295/
  18. The Effect of Caffeine on the Risk and Progression of Parkinson’s Disease: A Meta-Analysis
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC7353179/
  19. Coffee Consumption and the Risk of All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality in the Korean Population
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33895098/
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Garima Singh

(MSc (Nutrition), DNHE, DDHN)
Garima Singh is a certified nutritionist and dietitian with over 7 years of experience. She provides both in-office and virtual... more

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