Coffee and Weight Gain: The Truth


With coffee being such a massive part of society, you have probably thought, “How healthy is this?” Or, “Does coffee make you gain weight?”

As you picked up your coffee beverage of choice, be it a simple black coffee, a “keto” heavy cream sugar-free vanilla latte. It’s essential to think about our coffee choices every day. 

There is also a lot of information floating around on the internet about weight gain so much that it’s hard to decipher what’s true and what isn’t. 

This article strives to answer some of the pressing questions people have about the link between coffee and gaining weight. 

Overall, yes, black coffee is good for you and has many health benefits. Your daily sugary coffee beverage, however, is not. Consumption of that much sugar and dairy daily will inevitably result in weight gain. 

It is okay, though, to enjoy in moderation!

What Are Some Health Benefits Found in Coffee? 

Classic example of a latte
The Caffeine in Coffee Aids With Weight Management.

Warriorcoffee shares that when consumed in moderation, black coffee has been found to contain many health benefits. These benefits include but are not limited to the reasons listed below. 

  1. Black coffee reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 16% when compared to non-coffee drinkers. 
  2. Black coffee may reduce the risk of certain types of cancers (i.e., oral, prostate, liver, and colorectal). It is still unknown why coffee can reduce one’s risk of cancer.
  3. There is a reduced risk of developing cirrhosis of the liver. Research has found that drinking four or more cups a day can reduce the likelihood of developing alcoholic cirrhosis by 80% and non-alcoholic cirrhosis by 30%. 
  4. Drinking 3-4 cups of coffee a day can help reduce your risk of depression and increase your overall mood. 
  5. Research suggests that regular coffee drinkers have a lower risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes which typically develops in adulthood. WebMD shared that “one group of researchers found that the risk is 35% lower for people who drink six or more cups of coffee per day and 28% lower for people who drink four to six cups. Another study showed that for every extra cup of coffee a person drinks per day, their risk of developing diabetes drops by 7%.”
  6. The caffeine in coffee aids with weight management (this is why we’re here!). Research shows that when you consume caffeine regularly throughout the day, the caffeine causes you to burn more calories. This helps you to burn through fat faster, especially when exercising. (Did you know that caffeine can be found in most fat-burning supplements on the market? It is there as it can cause your metabolic rate to increase by 3-11%.) 
  7. Coffee aids in the prevention of Parkinson’s Disease. The research shows that the more coffee one drinks, the less likely they are to develop Parkinson’s.  
  8. Coffee is also full of essential antioxidants that help reduce the risk of serious conditions. Did you know that the majority of antioxidants in an American’s diet are from their coffee? Coffee contains high levels of Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Caffeine, Magnesium, B5, Manganese, Potassium, and Niacin (B3). 

Check out our article on how the body and mind is affected by coffee.

Does Coffee Boost Your Metabolism? 

how caffeine affects the circulatory system

Healthline also shares that caffeine is one of the few substances known to help mobilize fat from your fat tissues, thus increasing your metabolism. This occurs as caffeine increases the production of epinephrine (a.k.a adrenaline). 

Caffeine also blocks adenosine molecules from reaching your brain. Adenosine helps to regulate our sleep-wake cycle. When the adenosine is blocked, there is an increase in the firing of neurons and neurotransmitters.

This is when dopamine and norepinephrine are released, making you feel more energized. When this occurs, we are able to stay active a lot longer than we usually would without caffeine. Caffeine can help improve your exercise performance by up to 12%, thus boosting your metabolism. 

Additionally, research suggests that coffee can increase your overall Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) anywhere from 3-11%. The higher your RMR, the easier it is for you to lose weight. 

It usually means that you can also eat more without having to worry about gaining weight.

Note: Studies show that results regarding metabolic rate diminish in long-term coffee drinkers.

How Coffee Affects Your Appetite

Drinking a cup of joe

More research needs to be conducted on the impact that caffeine has on one’s appetite. However, while caffeine may temporarily suppress your appetite, the results are not long-lasting.  

Mayo Clinic elaborates on the theory that caffeine can affect your appetite, suggesting that caffeine increases your energy, even when you are resting. When this occurs, thermogenesis begins (one way our bodies generate heat and energy by digesting food).

Can Coffee be a Meal Replacement?

coffee as a meal replacement
Coffee, While Awesome, Is Not a Meal Replacement.

Coffee is not a meal replacement.

It may fill you up temporarily, but it is a diuretic and will make you need to urinate more often and dehydrate you. Typically, if you’re fasting for weight loss black coffee is considered fine for the fast. I’ve fasted many times and always drink black coffee in the morning, but not to feel full.

Coffee contains essential antioxidants for the body, but since one cup of brewed coffee (black) is approximately five calories, there is no true nutritional substance and is not a meal replacement.

How Many Calories are in Coffee? 

Coffee by itself (back) isn’t bad for you and only contains approximately five calories. 

As previously mentioned, it is everything else added to it that can eventually lead to weight gain. That being said, if you have a sugary drink every once in a while, you will be fine. 

It’s when you start drinking those sugary 500+ calorie drinks every single day that you will begin to notice weight gain along with other health issues. 

Mayo Clinic shared the following nutritional information for the common creams and sugar we tend to put in our coffee: 

  • Sugar (white): 16 calories per teaspoon
  • Heavy Cream: 101 calories per 2 tablespoons
  • Half-and-Half: 37 calories per 2 tablespoons
  • Non-Fat Milk: 10 calories per 2 tablespoons

It is no secret that Americans are suckers for big coffee chains like Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, and Peet’s Coffee. Below is a comparison of some of the most popular drinks. All of the following nutritional information is for a medium-sized beverage. At Starbucks and Peets the default milk used is 2%, while at Dunkin it is whole milk. However, there is an exception at Starbucks — Flat Whites and Frappuccinos are made with whole milk. 

Starbucks

Dunkin Donuts

Peet’s Coffee

Black Coffee - 5 calBlack Coffee- 5 cal

Black Coffee - 5 cal

Cappuccino - 140 cal

Cappuccino - 120 cal

Cappuccino - 140 cal
Caffe Latte - 190 cal

Latte - 170 cal

Caffe Latte - 220 cal

Caramel Macchiato - 250 cal

Macchiato (Caramel Swirl) - 290 cal

Caramel Macchiato - 350 cal

Mocha - 370 cal / White Mocha - 430 cal

Mocha - 410 cal

Frappuccino - 340 - 470 cal

Frozen Coffee - 590 - 860 cal

Caramel Blended ICED/ Mocha Blended Iced - 420 - 480 cal

Wraping Up

Coffee is very elaborate, and there is still a lot of research that needs to be done regarding coffee and its effect on one’s appetite and metabolism long term. There is also a lot that is still not known about caffeine and all the effects that it can have. 

If you are concerned about weight gain or want “healthier” drinks, I recommend trying pour-overs, americanos, or cold brew (try nitro for an added boost!). 

If you want to up your Barista game, check out our article, Easy Ways to Level Up Your Home Barista Game!

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