Lose weight with coffee – a dream come true for coffee lovers. But what sounds seductive at first has its pitfalls. On top of that, the coffee diet can also be dangerous.
Coffee is regularly on the list of drinks that can help you lose weight on a diet. The internist Dr. Bob Arnot, who previously worked as a medical advisor for the US broadcaster CBS and NBC and has now written a number of diet books, including “The Coffee Lover’s Diet”.
But is it enough just to drink a few cups of coffee a day and the pounds drop off? No of course not. We explain what the coffee diet is, what requirements must be met, and what complications it can lead to.
What is the Coffee Diet?
Dr. Arnot’s development is based on observations made by the inhabitants of a small Greek island: On Ikaria, the island currently has around 8,000 inhabitants, the people are on average among the oldest in the world. The doctor and journalist is convinced that this comes not only from the Mediterranean way of life and diet but above all from their coffee consumption.
His theory: Drinking at least three cups – 720 milliliters – of coffee a day should not only stimulate the metabolism and burn fat, but also block the absorption of calories and decrease appetite. But as I said, it’s not that simple.
Important for the coffee diet: quality, type, and preparation
First of all – with the coffee that many households here in Germany drink, the coffee diet probably doesn’t work so well. When choosing a coffee bean, not only does the quality play a role, but above all the proportion of antioxidants in the form of polyphenols. These are found in coffee as flavonoids, resveratrol, chlorogenic acid, and melanoidins. Its effect as a radical scavenger has been sufficiently proven, and it has been proven that the consumption of coffee increases the antioxidant capacity of healthy people. The following applies: the lighter the roast, the higher the proportion of polyphenol antioxidants.
In addition, there is the brewing method of how the coffee is prepared. The Icarians drink their coffee the Greek way, that is, the beans are ground very finely and boiled in a briki (jug) with poured water – sometimes several times.
The Coffee Diet: The Benefits
If the coffee is brewed with the selected beans and the preparation described, it not only promotes energy and a good mood but also better health. But what are the benefits that are attributed to the coffee diet?
The antioxidants contained are said to reduce inflammation in the body and prevent damage caused by free radicals. When it comes to the desired weight loss in the diet, there are actually two potential benefits that coffee brings: First, it reduces appetite and the associated calorie intake – but only if the black brew is drunk just before meals. On the other hand, it can boost metabolism and have a positive influence on weight, BMI, and fat mass.
The real advantage – and arguably the main reason why you can lose weight with the coffee diet – is the change in lifestyle. In addition to the increased coffee dose, replacing a meal with a green smoothie and focusing on low-fat, high-fiber foods also play a major role in the diet. And that is the case with many successful weight loss methods: Whole foods yes, processed foods, sugar, and Co. no. And here, too, the daily calorie intake should not exceed 1,500 – the real challenge with this diet.
The Coffee Diet: The Cons
There is no question that increased caffeine intake can also cause health problems. Excessive amounts of coffee can lead to high blood pressure and have been linked to headaches, insomnia, depression, heart attacks, and an increased risk of fractures and osteoporosis in those with a predisposition.
In addition, caffeine is also a kind of diuretic, which means that more fluid is excreted and important electrolytes can be withdrawn from the body. Coffee-induced hypokalemia – a potassium deficiency that can affect muscle control and heart health – is very rare. Nevertheless, with an increased amount of coffee, attention should be paid to the fluid balance, which is best balanced with water.
Unfortunately, with the coffee diet, there is also a high probability that the desired weight will not last long. Due to the very limited amount of calories, the body also slows down its metabolism and hormone fluctuations ensure increased appetite: exactly the factors that coffee is actually supposed to prevent and which ensure that a diet is not only ineffective in the long term but also frustrating in the short term.
The coffee diet harbors health risks without long-term success
Of course, eating healthy food with more antioxidants has a positive effect on the body and mind. But the restrictive method immediately destroys this success – demotivation and weight gain are the results. In addition, the coffee diet harbors risks and undesirable side effects that you can do without.
Dr. Arnot’s diet would also be a little more believable if the doctor did not conduct his own studies to substantiate his theories and also marketed his own type of coffee with a high phenol content – “Dr. Danger Coffee”.
If you love coffee, you can continue to enjoy it in moderation and incorporate the beans into a balanced diet. The pleasure and health experience can be improved by the choice of coffee and its preparation, but that was all. The coffee diet is not suitable as a sustainable and healthy method for weight loss. After all, the most successful diet is the one that you stick to – with pleasure.