It’s in your coffee, your Green Tea, your soda, your energy drink, and now your weight loss supplement. But the fact of the matter is, we know that caffeine has a desirable, energy-boosting effect on our bodies but the question often remains, is it safe to supplement with and what role does it actually play in weight loss?
What is Caffeine?
Caffeine is a crystalline xanthine stimulant drug that is found in the seeds, leaves, and fruits of various plants.
Originally, these plants contained caffeine because it acts as a natural pesticide, however, tea leaves and coffee beans were soon discovered to have an “energizing” effect and began to be harvested in masses for human stimulant use.
Common sources of caffeine include:
- Coffee Beans
- Guarana Berries
- Kola Nuts
- Yerba Mate
Far from its original use, research suggests that 90% of Americans drink at least a cup and a half of caffeine daily, and what you may not know is that guarana, cocoa, and yerba mate are commonly incorporated into weight loss supplements due to their high concentration of caffeine.
So why are so many people obsessed with this drug, and why is being incorporated into so many different weight loss supplements?
Caffeine’s Impact on Weight Loss
Caffeine as a stimulant affects the central nervous system and has the ability to temporarily ward off drowsiness and restore alertness. Aside from these primary factors, caffeine has also presented itself as a beneficial ingredient in weight loss formulas.
Caffeine is often used to encourage lipolysis (the breakdown of fat) because it contains a substance called metabolite paraxanthine that mobilizes fatty acids to be used as fuel in place of glycogen. Additionally, caffeine effects weight loss in three different manners:
Caffeine has the ability to reduce the desire to eat for brief periods at a time and often drinking caffeinated beverages like coffee and green tea can assist in fighting food cravings.
Caffeine also has the ability to stimulate thermogenesis and increase your overall calorie burn throughout the day. Recent clinical studies have proven that consuming at least 45 mg of caffeine (the equivalent of diet coke) can increase the metabolism for 3-4 hours post-consumption. Studies have also found that a single dose of caffeine only boosts metabolism 3-4% but repeated doses (or consuming caffeine several times daily) can actually raise the metabolism 8-10%.
Finally, caffeine acts as a diuretic and can encourage water loss to get rid of “bloat” weight. Caffeine does this by increasing urine output so it’s important that you’re drinking plenty of water while supplementing or consuming caffeine regularly. Using caffeine as a diuretic is a common practice for fitness competitors to help them look as lean as possible when competition season rolls around.
Why Supplement with Caffeine?
Supplement with caffeine aside from its ability to lower the numbers on the bathroom scale, caffeine is also commonly added to weight loss supplements to enhance your athletic performance. Because it provides a high amount of energy to the body, caffeine is known for its ability to improve mental focus, endurance, and overall strength.
These factors can be used to the dieter’s advantage because cutting calories often leaves individuals tired and sluggish. With a caffeine-containing weight loss supplement, however, you can cut calories but still maintain enough energy to make it to exercise regularly and with more intensity than ever before.
Is Supplementing with Caffeine Safe?
Supplementing with caffeine regularly is considered safe when following the directions accompanying the supplement, but it’s important to keep in mind that abusing caffeine or overusing the substance can have a definite negative impact on your health. Overusing caffeine can lead to nervousness, insomnia, nausea, and increased blood pressure when used unwisely.
However, many individuals have found weight loss success when supplementing with caffeine as they find themselves able to consume fewer calories comfortably and have enough energy to fuel regular, rigorous workouts. Weight loss supplements that often contain safe amounts of caffeine are fat burners and energy boosters.