A coffee a day could be one of the simplest ways to help drop unwanted pounds according to a recent study. It’s time to put the kettle on!
Coffee has always had a mixed review when it comes to headlines.
For every positive study, there’s always been a negative alternative, leaving mixed messages about our morning brew. However, the latest news is that regularly drinking coffee could help you
Burning the right fat
Your body contains two types of fat: white and brown. White fat is the stuff people want to shift if they need or want to lose weight, as it can be detrimental to health in excess.
Adipose tissue, aka brown fat, on the other hand is actually good as it helps keep your body insulated. It takes an enormous amount of energy to burn brown fat to say warm.
Interestingly, many slim people have a relatively high percentage of brown fat. Overweight people tend to have less of it.
Brown fat burns sugar and other fats to generate heat and is normally only activated when your body is cold. However, a new study from the School of Medicine at Nottingham University, which is the first of its kind, has looked at the effect of coffee drinking on brown fat in humans, with very interesting results.
The team used non-invasive thermal imaging to look at brown fat reserves before and after people drank a cup of coffee.
They were able to see whether the fat – located in this case around the neck – was activated and got hotter as a result of coffee consumption.
‘Our study showed that a single cup of coffee stimulates the activity of brown fat,’ says Professor Michael Symonds, who co-directed the research. ‘This has the potential to help increase your weight loss, as brown fat contains a special protein called Uncoupling protein 1.
When activated, it is the reason brown fat can rapidly produce so much heat – approximately 300 times per gram compared with any other tissue.’
All of that adds up to a hefty calorie burn and may well help weight loss. But that’s not all – activating brown fat is also helpful in helping to control the level of sugar and fat in your blood.
The coffee you drink needn’t be a fancy blend, either. So far the research has only been conducted using a cheap and cheerful brand.
‘One cup per day should work,’ says Michael, ‘but we’ve not yet looked at whether adding milk modifies the response or not.’ So, until more is known, keep it black if you can!
Weight loss for all?
It sounds too good to be true and, as often happens with new studies, there are potential pitfalls. One is that so far the brown fat only seems to be activated for a short period by the coffee.
Secondly, researchers haven’t yet demonstrated a long-term adaptation for weight loss – although they haven’t ruled it out either.
Thirdly, how much brown fat you have in the first place is a factor. ‘We all have brown fat although there is less in people who are overweight or obese. In fact, reduced brown fat function is likely to contribute to excess weight gain, and whether the amount can be increased or its activity enhanced remains to be established,’ says Michael. However, for a stand-alone study, it’s exciting.
Next, the team will be examining whether caffeine supplements have the same effect as the drink.
‘The potential implications of our results are pretty big, as obesity is a major health concern and we also have a growing diabetes epidemic. Activating brown fat could potentially be part of the solution in tackling both,’ says Michael.
See below to discover some more reasons you might want to brew a few mugs of coffee this month for you and your loved ones…
4 reasons to love coffee…
Having 3-4 cups of coffee per day might extend your life expectancy.
Research published in the British Medical Journal suggested that most of us could get some serious overall health benefits from coffee, except for pregnant women and those at risk of fracture.
Alert at first sight
Did you know that simply looking at something that reminds you of coffee can help your mind become more alert and attentive?
Sounds ridiculous but it’s true – and proven by a University of Toronto study. Try putting up pictures of coffee in your study to stay focused.
Protect the fellas in your life
Men in particular could benefit from adding coffee to their day. A study this year identified compounds in the drink that may inhibit prostate cancer.
Admittedly it’s early days, as the study from the European Association of Urology hasn’t yet been carried out on humans, but it’s a potentially exciting discovery.
Boost your brain
Two compounds found in coffee may team up to fight Parkinson’s, according to American research. Scientists found that the combination of caffeine and a substance in the coating of coffee beans might protect you.
Meanwhile, a previous study suggested coffee can reduce your chances of both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.