Thursday, March 28, 2013

Is Coffee Making You Fat?

We all love coffee for the energy it gives us but did you ever think about the fact it may be a leading cause behind weight gain? Up until 2 years ago I believed coffee was not a bad choice as long as it was drank black. I really thought the real “fat” culprit seemed to be all the whipped cream, whole milk and sugary syrups that were the source of weight gain surrounding coffee. 

But there’s more….

How Caffeine Triggers Weight Gain
Cortisol – the stress hormone. Research is now available that links caffeine with the stress hormone, cortisol. Numerous studies show that stress and increased cortisol in the human body lead to the deposition of excess fat in the abdomen. Reports now show how stress caused by caffeine, specifically in coffee can lead to increased eating and elevated levels of cortisol. In addition, increased levels of cortisol are associated with insulin resistance, fat cravings, and increased appetite.

I know some of you reading this post may be say, but coffee stimulates metabolism and suppresses your appetite, and I say are these benefits worth the risk of the elevated cortisol, and the other health risks?

Caffeine Interferes With Sleep

Chronic stress disrupts sleep, which also inhibits the body’s ability to repair itself. When there are increased levels of stress-related hormones in the body, like cortisol which is stimulated by coffee drinking, insomnia and sleep disruption become more frequent. Did you know that caffeine can remain in the body up to 18 hours and affect your ability to sleep!

A recent report came out in U.S. News and World Report entitled “Lack of Sleep Causes weight gain in just a few days”. The study showed how people who are sleep deprived for just one work week tend to overeat and gain weight.

Caffeine, Stress Hormones and Your Immune System

Your immune system is weakened when stress hormones are chronically elevated. This accelerates a number of disease processes, including cardiovascular disease and immune system dysfunction. All too often people will increase their consumption of coffee during times of stress as they try to juggle all the stress-factors by staying awake longer each day to cope. This is the opposite of what is necessary for healthy immune system.

Caffeine Aggravates Heartburn and Ulcers
Stress and heightened anxiety, as well as regular coffee and decaf, which are both highly acidic, can raise the incidence of heartburn and ulcers. Heartburn is also referred to acid reflux and when it becomes chronic, it can be an indicator of something more serious going on.

Caffeine and the Nervous System
James D. Lane, PhD, professor of medical psychology at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. and long-time caffeine researcher tells us, “Caffeine exaggerates the stress response," he goes on to say . "At the cellular level, caffeine locks the receptor normally used by adenosine, a brain modulator that provides feedback to avoid over stimulation of nerve cells. If adenosine is locked up, nothing keeps the nervous system from getting too excited at a cellular level."

Other Health Risks

Caffeine can lead to insulin resistance and contribute to obesity, high blood pressure, decreased glucose metabolism and increased cholesterol levels.

Studies suggest that the parts of our brain, which is responsible for decision making, reasoning, planning and goal making, are all compromised by stress. These same studies suggest that increased experiences of stress also lead to higher incidences of depression. In addition, caffeine inhibits the blood flow to the brain and can interfere with our memory and mental performance.


U.S. News and World Report

U.S. National Library of Medicine

Acheson, K.J., Zahorska-Markeiwicz, B., Pitter, P., Anantharaman, K., Jequier, E. "Caffeine and coffee: their influence on metabolic rate and substrate utilization in normal weight and obese individuals" American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 33.1980:989-997.

Haffner, S.M., Knapp J.A., Stern M.P., Hazuda H.P., Rosenthal M., Franco L.J. "Coffee consumption, diet and lipids" American Journal of Epidemiology 122.1985:1-12.


  1. I cut coffee out of my diet about two months ago because of stress levels I was constantly carrying. I guess thats what happens when you drink 3-5 cups a day! It took some adjusting to finding alternative energy sources but I feel so much better now because of it! A good thing too as it appears I was doing more damage to my body than I even knew!

    Great article!

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