According to new research published in The Journal of Nutrition, those who drink two to four cups of coffee a day tend to have lower total body fat, including abdominal fat.However, while the study’s results found that higher coffee consumption was linked to lower body fat percentage among some male groups, the results were more prominent in female groups.
Rejoice, java lovers—here’s one more reason to get your fix: Those who drink two to four cups of coffee daily, as opposed to just one, tend to have lower total body fat, including abdominal fat.
Research published in The Journal of Nutrition collected data on coffee consumption and body fat percentage from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a program that began in the 1960s and now includes a nationally representative sample of about 5,000 people in the U.S. each year.
Researchers found that women ages 20 to 44 who drank two or three cups of joe a day had 3.4 percent lower body fat than those who drank fewer cups of coffee or none at all. Among women ages 45 to 69, those who drank four or more cups had a body fat percentage 4.1 percent lower. And these findings were consistent even when the coffee was decaf, researchers reported.
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The researchers noted that the bioactive compounds in coffee—other than caffeine—could be a reason for lower body fat percentage. Polyphenols, for instance, have been previously found to prevent weight gain and boost metabolism in mice, but this study didn’t identify what those compounds might be or what role they might play in humans.
It’s important to keep in mind that this research shows correlation, not causation. That means there’s an association between body fat and coffee consumption, but the study doesn’t show that coffee is what prompts this effect. However, there have been previous studies that linked coffee drinking with increased metabolic rate and an effect on fat accumulation, study coauthor Chao Cao, Ph.D.(c), of Washington University’s School of Medicine, told Bicycling.
Do the same results apply to men? Not necessarily, Cao said. Bioactive compounds in coffee may stimulate hormone production in men and women differently, he said, and that plays an important role in fat metabolism and utilization of fat for energy.RELATED STORIESWhy You Can’t Get Enough of Coffee and BeerHave a Problem to Solve? A Cup of Coffee Can Help
“This is a potential mechanism to explain this gender difference,” he said. “In addition, our results did find higher coffee consumption was linked to lower body fat percentage among some male groups, but it wasn’t as prominent as it was in women.”
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Why did researchers see benefits in two cups of coffee, as opposed to just one? Cao added that in women, there is a dose-response relationship, which means the more consumption increased, the stronger the link became to lower body fat percentage.
But, he cautioned, that doesn’t mean coffee should be seen as a weight loss aid and especially not as a meal replacement.
“We don’t want someone to drink tons in one day as a way to lose body fat,” he said. “This should be part of a healthy lifestyle—including physical activity, less sitting, and more healthy foods.”
All in all, there’s no need for you to change your pre or postride coffee habit—just know that a few cups a day can be beneficial to everyone’s health.
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