The health benefits of drinking a morning cup of Joe are piling up and researchers have just added a new entry to the list – weight loss. A new study that appeared Monday morning in the journal Scientific Reports suggests that coffee can actually help your body burn fat.
The report looked at how caffeine interacts with the body’s “brown fat,” which is the fat that burns calories and keeps the body warm. Speaking on “CBS This Morning,” Dr. David Agus explained how it all works.
There are two types of fat found in the body; “white fat,” which stores calories that the body has not used, and “brown fat,” which metabolizes macronutrients and generates heat, ultimately changing the metabolism as well as the cholesterol in the blood, CBS noted.
What researchers have now found is that caffeine could stimulate that brown fat to produce more heat – much like exercise does. It has previously been suggested that coffee can help the body burn fat but the evidence has largely been theoretical.
Kris Gunnars, a nutrition researcher with a bachelor’s degree in medicine, explained in Healthline that caffeine can stimulate the metabolism by blocking the inhibitory neurotransmitter called adenosine.
“By blocking adenosine, caffeine increases the firing of neurons and release of neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine,” he noted. “This, in turn, makes you feel more energized and awake. In this way, coffee helps you stay active when you would otherwise feel tired. In fact, it may improve exercise performance by 11–12%, on average.”
Gunnars further noted that caffeine can stimulate the body’s nervous system, which relays messages to the fat cells to break down fat. Furthermore, caffeine has been shown to increase the body’s resting metabolic rate by 3–11%. What previous research has suggested? That the increase in metabolism is caused by an increase in fat burning, which ties in to what the latest study has found.
This information can open new doors in research and while the findings are promising, Agus recommended not going overboard with the coffee.
“First of all, up to three cups a day may have a health benefit, [with] no detriment,” he said. “Don’t do more. More isn’t better.”