There has been a lot of chatter surrounding green coffee powder for weight loss of late, but does it really work? We take a look at the benefits and side effects in this post and also discover some of the best ways to use green coffee beans as well.
First, though, let’s take a look at the basics.
What is green coffee bean extract, anyway?
In order to find out what green coffee powder is, you have to look at the source – green coffee beans.
Green coffee beans (and all of the many products that are derived from them) are basically the same thing as regular coffee beans apart from one simple fact – they haven’t yet been roasted and processed into the dark brown aromatic beans we’re more accustomed to.
The roasting process that brings out the flavor in the coffee beans we use for making beverages obviously involves intense heat, which changes not only the bean’s color, aroma, and flavor, but also its chemical structure, too.
The nutrients held within the bean are also affected by the heating process, and the unprocessed green coffee bean has a wide range of pharmacologically active compounds and antioxidants that have attracted nutritionist’s attention over recent years.
So, why aren’t we all brewing up green coffee beans for our daily cup of Joe? Well, as we touched upon above, the roasting of these beans is what give them their distinctive flavor and aroma.
Without the roasting process, green coffee beans are very bitter, so turning them into a tasty beverage would probably require a whole lot of sugar – not exactly what you want if you’re trying to lose weight! That’s why green coffee bean extract usually comes in powdered, supplement form.
Okay, so does green coffee powder for weight loss work?
If you’re anything like me, just the mention of “weight loss supplements” is likely to have you raising a suspicious eyebrow. Losing weight can be tough for some people, which creates a market for the unscrupulous to take advantage of.
Now, as vegans, many of us know that weight loss is perfectly achievable by simply adapting your diet and going back to basics; namely eating stuff that doesn’t have a long list of ingredients or, indeed, any ingredients whatsoever. Good foods ARE the ingredient, after all.
That being said, many vegan diets are high in carbohydrates, and that’s where we can take an interest in green coffee extract. Green coffee beans are extremely rich in a polyphenol that goes by the name chlorogenic acid, and it’s thought that this compound can lower the absorption rate of carbohydrates from within the digestive tract.
This, in turn, can bring down blood sugar levels and reduce spikes in insulin to that of a lower carbohydrate diet. Couple this with the fact that coffee naturally has metabolism boosting caffeine present, too, and you can see where the belief that green coffee bean extract is good for weight loss comes from. However, having a belief isn’t proof. (1)
What do studies say?
Probably one of the most cited research studies into the effect of green coffee extract for weight loss is that of ETC Research and Development in Norway.
This study looked at 30 overweight subjects across 12 weeks to see if there was any significant weight loss in those who drank instant coffee enriched with chlorogenic acid when compared to those who consumed regular instant coffee. (2)
Across the 12 weeks, those who drank normal instant coffee lost 1.7kg (3.75lbs), whereas those whose coffee was enriched with chlorogenic acid lost considerably more, 5.4kg (11.9lbs). Body fat dropped, too, with the chlorogenic acid groups percentages falling by 3.6% compared to only 0.7% in the regular instant coffee group.
While this sounds extremely positive, it has to be said that the study was rather small and there are few others of note to cement its findings. A review of the randomised clinical trials which looked at the use of green coffee extract as a weight loss supplement backs this view up, stating:
“The evidence from RCTs seems to indicate that the intake of GCE (Green Coffee Extract) can promote weight loss. However, several caveats exist. The size of the effect is small, and the clinical relevance of this effect is uncertain. More rigorous trials with longer duration are needed to assess the efficacy and safety of GCE as a weight loss supplement.”
So, while these studies show positive results, it’s important to take them in context and recognize that there is still further research to be carried out before we can say for certain that green coffee powder promotes weight loss.
As with so many things of this nature, it’s also worth bearing in mind that what will work for one person may not work for another. So, if you are thinking of giving green coffee beans a try, do so with a degree of experimentation rather than anticipation and see if they work for you.
Oh, and remember, these are not magic pills made to replace eating well and regular exercise; they’re are a supplement to used in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle, not in exchange of it.
How to use green coffee beans for weight loss
Now that we know a little more about this supplement, you may have decided to give it a try yourself and are wondering how to use green coffee beans for weight loss. Well, as we’ve already mentioned, green coffee beans aren’t really for drinking, so we’re largely left with two forms: capsules and loose powder.
Which one you choose will be up to you, and there are pros and cons to each. Green coffee bean capsules obviously give you a degree of convenience, whereas the powdered form gives you greater control over the dosage you decide to take. That brings us nicely to…
Green coffee bean powder dosage
Studies into dosage amounts are, at present, non-existent, so there is some confusion over what the optimal green coffee extract dosage rate actually is. There is, however, a range that can be extracted from the data found within the studies that have been carried out to date, but it’s still not straightforward.
The problem is that many of the green coffee bean powder supplements available will have varying levels of chlorogenic acid within them. Some will advertise 50%, while others may be as low as 10%. As chlorogenic acid is thought to be the major contributing factor to weight loss, this is important and consumers would be wise to adjust their intake accordingly.
Below is a guideline that’ll give you a rough idea of how much GCE you should be taking each day dependent on the chlorogenic acid content of your supplement:
Supplement with 50% chlorogenic acid content – 240 to 600mg
Supplement with 20% chlorogenic acid content – 600 to 1,500mg
Supplement with 10% chlorogenic acid content – 1,200 to 3,000mg
Courtesy of Examine.com
There are other considerations, too. Things such as your current body weight, how tolerant you are to caffeine, and your general health can all play a part in finding the correct dosage for you.
As with any change in diet or supplementation, consulting your doctor prior to use is essential, so be sure to make an appointment!
Other things to check for
When making your purchase, try and find an organic green coffee bean extract. Organically grown beans will be free from some of the more toxic fertilizers and pesticides.
As well as buying organic green coffee bean powder, check the label for any additional ingredients. Many products will include binding agents, fillers, additives, and even cellulose, so make sure you opt for a pure green coffee extract.
Country of origin can also be a tell-tale sign of quality for any supplement, not just green coffee extract. Try to ensure that your product of choice is manufactured in the US or Europe; unfortunately, there are a lot of fake products on the market that are worthless and many of those are produced in China.
As with most things in life, you get what you pay for when it comes to supplements, so steer clear of any products that seem ridiculously inexpensive; they’re likely to be cheap for a reason.
Are there any other benefits associated with green coffee extract?
You’ve probably gathered by now that the main angle of this article is the association between green coffee powder and weight loss, but are there any other health benefits to be had from these unroasted beans?
Let’s take a look:
As green coffee beans are so rich in anti-oxidants, especially the polyphenol chlorogenic acid, there are thought to be anti-aging benefits to taking this supplement, too. (4)
Coffee in general is often associated with improved rates of focus and concentration. This is largely due to the caffeine content which has been widely shown to improve alertness and attention spans. (5)
Reduced blood pressure
Again, it’s the chlorogenic acid that is the star. This compound has been shown to reduce blood pressure without side effects, making it a potentially safe way to lower blood pressure in patients exhibiting mild hypertension. (6)
Help lower food cravings
This is an interesting one, and it also ties in with the weight loss benefits. Some scientists believe that green coffee extract can help control blood sugar levels, which may help lessen cravings for foods that are responsible for piling on the pounds and increasing inflammation in the body. (7)
What about green coffee beans side effects?
It would appear that green coffee bean powder is relatively safe, but you should still be careful when taking it, especially if you have a history of heart issues, diabetes, or high blood pressure. Call your doctor and discuss your intentions with them.
The main issues surrounding this supplement are the same as one would find with regular coffee, and they can be attributed to the caffeine content found within the beans.
While the caffeine content of your supplement may be relatively low when compared to the average cup of Java, it is still present, so some may experience green coffee powder side effects such as increased heart rates, anxiety, sleep issues, and restlessness.
Where can I buy pure green coffee bean extract?
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As a supplement, green coffee powder can generally be found in health food stores and online retailers such as Amazon.
It’s worth remembering, however, that as this product has received so much attention over the last few years, there are better products than others on the market, so stick to retailers you trust rather than taking a risk in order to save a few bucks. This is especially pertinent if you intend to buy green coffee powder online.
In short, if you have any concerns over the supplement or the company manufacturing it, don’t buy the product.
Alternatives to green coffee bean powder for weight loss
So, how about some alternatives to green coffee powder for weight loss? Well, I could rattle off a list of shady supplements that won’t do anything but put a dent in your pocket, but I’m obviously not going to do that.
I think the key thing to emphasise here is that losing weight isn’t easy, and it can be a lot harder for some than it is for others. However, do a quick Google search and you’ll see that there are millions of results claiming the opposite.
This can be demoralizing to say the least and can lead us to search for quick fixes that don’t work. That can then send our mood spiralling downwards and our weight in the opposite direction. I know, I’ve been there.
Don’t believe these get slim fast scammers. Concentrate on making real lifestyle changes rather than jumping on the next bandwagon. Switching from the Standard American Diet to a whole food, plant-based way of eating may not be the sexiest sell in the world, but I can tell you that it works.
If you want to add something like green coffee powder to your daily supplementation of things like vegan vitamin B12 and plant-based vitamin D, that’s perfectly fine. However, if you’re looking for a silver bullet to your weight problem, supplements of any form are not it.
So, my number one alternative to green coffee bean extract for weight loss – if you’re not already doing it – is to ditch the junk food (vegan or otherwise), get more plant-based whole foods into your diet, and slowly up your exercise regimen as you go.
With a little patience and perseverance, you’ll get there. Promise.
If you’ve tried green coffee bean powder for weight loss, I’d love to hear what your experience has been. Drop me a comment below.
About The Author:
Lisa Williams is a committed vegan, passionate animal welfare advocate, and keen follower of too many v-friendly food blogs to mention. She started happyhappyvegan.com back in 2016 because she felt there was a need for more straightforward information on plant-based living.
Back then, too many sites seem to either concentrate solely on recipes or be too intimidating or inaccessible for the v-curious, and she wanted to change that. The landscape is certainly a whole lot different now!
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- P Koot, P Deurenberg | Comparison of changes in energy expenditure and body temperatures after caffeine consumption | https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7486839/
- E Thom | The Effect of Chlorogenic Acid Enriched
- Coffee on Glucose Absorption in Healthy
- Volunteers and Its Effect on Body Mass
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- Obese People | https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/147323000703500620
- Igho Onakpoya, Rohini Terry, and Edzard Ernst | The Use of Green Coffee Extract as a Weight Loss Supplement: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomised Clinical Trials | https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2943088/
- Ivana Binic, Viktor Lazarevic, Milanka Ljubenovic, Jelena Mojsa, and Dusan Sokolovic | Skin Ageing: Natural Weapons and Strategies | https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3569896/
- Tom M. McLellan, John A. Caldwell, Harris R. Lieberman | A review of caffeine’s effects on cognitive, physical and occupational performance | https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0149763416300690
- Takuya Watanabe, Yoichi Arai, Yuki Mitsui, Tatsuya Kusaura, Wataru Okawa, Yasushi Kajihara, Ikuo Saito | The blood pressure-lowering effect and safety of chlorogenic acid from green coffee bean extract in essential hypertension | https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16820341/
- American Chemical Society | New evidence that natural substances in green coffee beans help control blood sugar levels | https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/pressroom/newsreleases/2013/april/new-evidence-that-natural-substances-in-green-coffee-beans-help-control-blood-sugar-levels.html