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Caffeine for Weight Loss

Caffeine for Weight Loss: Can a Cup of Joe Really Help You Shed Pounds?

Caffeine is the most widely used stimulant worldwide.  Whether taken as coffee in the West, as green or black teas in Asia, or yerba mate in South America, it is clear that the world loves caffeine and its stimulating effects.  The popularity of caffeine products is nothing new either.  The history of caffeine goes back thousands of years to various cultures where it was revered for enhancing performance and mental clarity.  Caffeine can be found in numerous natural plants including coffee, tea, cocoa, kola nuts, and guarana.  Today, caffeine can be found as an additive in everything from sports drinks to weight loss supplements.

Caffeine’s Stimulating Effects

The main reason why people are so drawn to caffeine is because it is a potent stimulant.  When consumed, caffeine acts on the central nervous system and increases levels of certain natural chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters.  One of the neurotransmitters which caffeine increases is adrenaline.  When adrenaline levels are increased, you have more energy, better focus, burn fat better, and appetite is suppressed.  Caffeine also affects many other natural chemicals including adenosine, cyclic AMP, and serotonin.

The stimulating effects of caffeine have many applications.  Millions of people start their day with a caffeinated beverage to increase their alertness and wakefulness.  Athletes have used caffeine as a legal performance enhancer for decades. Caffeine can be used to relieve pains, increase circulation, encourage bowel movements, and improving breathing in some situations.  Like other stimulants, caffeine can also be used to help weight loss.

Caffeine Addiction: Cause to Worry?

Just like the stimulants cocaine and methamphetamines, caffeine is an addictive drug.  It directly affects the chemical balance in the brain and can cause changes to this balance.  As you continue to consume caffeine, your body will gradually adjust to the effects of the stimulant and accept this caffeinated state as your “normal” condition.  As this adjustment occurs, you will no longer get the same stimulating effects from caffeine and need to consume more of it to get the same stimulation.  This is known as tolerance.  If you stop taking caffeine, your body will have trouble functioning without the drug and experience withdrawal effects.

Withdrawal effects from caffeine can occur about 12-24 hours after you last consumed it.  Common withdrawal effects include headaches, moodiness, exhaustion, feeling nauseous, and poor focus.

Caffeine addiction wouldn’t be a problem if caffeine use wasn’t also linked to health problems.  If you regularly consume excessive amounts of caffeine, your blood pressure can skyrocket, your heart function can suffer, and you may even have mental health problems. Since your body will demand more caffeine to get the same results as you develop a tolerance, the health risks of caffeine will only increase as you continue to use it.

Weight Loss Supplements with Caffeine

Even though caffeine weight loss supplements usually advertise themselves as “all natural and safe”, it is still important to realize that caffeine is a stimulating drug.  While it may not be as strong as some other stimulants, like amphetamines, it still carries the dangers associated with stimulants. Caffeine can help you lose weight by increasing your energy for exercise, suppressing appetite, and increasing the amount of fat you burn.  However, caffeine makes a poor supplement for long-term weight loss.  When you stop taking a caffeine weight loss supplement (as you must because of the health risks), you could experience withdrawal symptoms like hunger and a decreased metabolism.  Many people who take caffeine supplements for weight loss will just gain back any weight they lost and some even gain back more than they lost.

To find out more about how to use caffeine for weight loss here.

References:

Collins, Karen, RD. “How much caffeine is too much? Latest studies show moderation is key.” MSNBC.mns.com. Nutrition Notes on msnbc.com. 3 Dec 2004. Web.

Yoshida, T., N. Sakane, T. Umekawa, and M. Kondo. “Relationship between basal metabolic rate, thermogenic response to caffeine, and body weight loss following combined low calorie and exercise treatment in obese women.” International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders. 18.5 (1994): 345-350. Web.

Westerterp-Plantenga, Margriet S, Manuela PGM Lejeune, and Eva MR Kovacs. “Body Weight Loss and Weight Maintenance in Relation to Habitual Caffeine Intake and Green Tea Supplementation.” Obesity Research 13 (2005): 1195-1204. Web.

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