We’ve recently been asked about the weight lowering benefits of green coffee bean extract. Could it be that there is yet another new miracle weight loss product out there? We decided to find out for ourselves.
Before diving in, one thing that we can probably all agree on is the fact that weight management is a process that requires fundamental lifestyle modifications and commitment, which are far from the mentality of letting “the pill” do the job. Nevertheless, we can all use a little help and if a new health product can help us in the process, why not?
What is green coffee extract?
Green coffee bean extract is basically derived from raw coffee bean before it goes through the roasting process. Coffee bean itself contains many different ingredients with various properties. The ingredient that may have implications in weight loss is called chlorogenic acid, which has been shown to change sugar and fat metabolism and absorption in the body. Keep in mind that the exact mechanism of its action in the body is not known. Although much of the chlorogenic acid content of the coffee bean is lost through the roasting process, roasted coffee still contains some chlorogenic acid. However roasted coffee also contains many other ingredients, some of which may actually inhibit the possible beneficial effects of chlorogenic acid5. So the idea is to take chlorogenic acid supplement alone to help one lose weight.
What does the evidence say?
There are currently only very few relevant human studies that look at the impact of green coffee extract on weight1,2,3. The most recent study was conducted in 16 overweight individuals over a period of 22 weeks1. In this study and previous ones, the group of individuals who took the green coffee bean extract did lose some weight compared to the group of individuals who did not take the supplement. However, when the results of three main human trials were combined in what is called a meta-analysis4, it was concluded that while the reported findings are promising, the studies are considered preliminary at best and by no means conclusive.
What don’t we know?
The studies have been done on overweight individuals who are otherwise healthy. Therefore, use of the green coffee extract in individuals with other health issues including cardiac conditions or diabetes is yet to be determined. There are no studies done on children, pregnant or breastfeeding individuals. Therefore, these groups should avoid using such products.
The available human studies have been done on a small number of individuals for a short duration of time; long term effects of the supplement as well as maintenance of weight following termination of the studies are yet to be further looked into.
The safe and effective dose of chlorogenic acid is not yet known. For example, one study has reported that concentrations of 2 grams or higher of chlorogenic acid could increase the levels of a chemical called homocysteine, which has implications in heart disease6. Bear in mind that by drinking coffee alone one may receive anywhere from 0.5 to 1 g of chlorogenic acid per day7; therefore, we still need to determine the effective and safe dosage.
We are talking about a new supplement. It might be wise to save the money spent on green coffee extract for the time when more robust evidence can support its use for weight loss. Make sure to consult your health care professional if you decide to take this supplement. In the meantime, a healthy diet and exercise are the two magic fat burners that will definitely not leave you disappointed!
The Health Aisle Team
1. Vinson JA, Burnham BR, Nagendran MV (2012) Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled linear dose, crossover study to evaluate the efficacy and safety of a green coffee bean extract in overweight subjects. Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity: Targets and Therapy; 5:21-27.
2. Thom E (2000) A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of a new weight-reducing agent of natural origin. J Int Med Res; 28:229–233
3. Dellaibera B, Lemaire S, Lafay S (2006) Svetol, Green coffee extract, induces weight loss and increases the lean to fat mass ratio in volunteers with overweight problem. Phytotherapie; 4:194–197.
4. Onakpova I, Terry R, Ernst E (2011) The use of green coffee extract as a weight loss supplement: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Gastroenterol Res Pract; 2011
5. Natural Standard – The Authority on Integrative Medicine, http://www.naturalstandard.com/, Green coffee.
6. Olthof, MR, Hollman, PC, Zock, PL, Katan, MB (2001) Consumption of high doses of chlorogenic acid, present in coffee, or of black tea increases plasma total homocysteine concentrations in humans. Am.J.Clin.Nutr; 73 (3):532-538.
7. Cliﬀord MN (2000) Chlorogenic acids and other cinnamates: nature, occurrence, dietary burden, absorption and metabolism. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture; 80(7): 1033–1043.