Java, mud, black tea, tar, wake up juice. No matter what we call it, few of us could get by without at least one cup of coffee during our day. But while we all know about the brew’s eye-opening benefits, there’s new evidence to show that an extract from the beans may have fat-fighting potential.
Where it comes from: As the name implies, “green coffee” is simply unroasted seeds—aka beans—from Coffea, the plant that gives us so many of our morning brews. Coffee contains hundreds of compounds, many of which may have healthful benefits.
What it'll do for you: Green coffee bean extract has gained quite a bit of buzz recently as a weight-loss supplement. Many websites sell green coffee pills, and a major coffee company has even started selling a beverage spiked with the extract.
Does it work? “There’s some data in the research to support the idea that chlorogenic acid in the green coffee bean can have an effect on body weight and fat loss,” said Lona Sandon, R.D., assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas.
Only a couple studies, though, have been done in people rather than animals. Here’s a closer look at the results:
18 pounds lost over five months
A study in India found that people taking pills with green coffee bean extract lost an average of 18 pounds—10 percent of their body weight—over 22 weeks. The study, published in Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity, tested two doses of extract—700 and 1,050 milligrams per day.
If in doubt, call The Dr. Oz Show—the show’s Medical Unit responded to the buzz with its own study. They included more people in their study—100 women, with the experiment running two weeks. The score—women taking green coffee bean extract: 2 pounds lost … women taking inactive pills: 1 pound lost. Why so close? All participants kept a food journal, which may have made both groups “more aware of their diet.”
Suggested intake: The Dr. Oz study used 400 milligrams, three times a day, which is slightly more than the high dose in the Indian study.
Associated risks/scrutiny: Although no side effects were noticed with either the Indian or Dr. Oz study, the long-term safety of green coffee bean extract is unknown. The studies also didn’t look at whether it is safe for people with illnesses like heart disease, or those taking prescribed medications.
“The bottom line here is use some common sense,” said Sandon. Here are tips from the experts on choosing a safe and effective product:
- Buy a reputable brand. The label should list either GCA® (green coffee antioxidant) or Svetol®, with at least 45% chlorogenic acid. Avoid brands with lots of fillers or artificial ingredients. One example that fits the bill is Hyrdoxycut Hardcore.
- Don’t overdo it. More isn’t always better—take only the amount listed on the bottle.
- Look for side effects, such as rapid heart rate, elevated blood pressure, or signs of an allergic reaction. Don’t take if you are allergic to coffee or caffeine.
- Exercise and eat healthy. Nothing beats this combination for losing weight. It’s also useful to keep a food journal (now available as smartphone apps).