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Ask Dr. Mike: Can Coffee Help You Lose Weight?

Here you'll find the answers to a wealth of health and wellness questions posed by Healthy Talk fans. Listen in because what you know helps ensure healthy choices you can live with. Today on Healthy Talk, you wanted to know:

Dr. Oz went before a congressional committee where he was ridiculed for promoting coffee as a weight loss supplement. But, isn't there some research showing it is good for weight loss?

Yes, there is research that has been done that shows the benefits of weight loss through green coffee bean extract. But, it does have to be formulated the right way. The green bean coffee extract needs to be at least 50 percent chlorogenic acid, which is the main antioxidant.

It's important to know that the research wasn't for weight loss purposes, but rather how chlorogenic acid helps you metabolize sugar. When you can't properly digest and metabolize sugar, it stores as fat. The research did in fact show a benefit between green bean extract and sugar levels. This resulted in low blood sugar, as well as weight loss. Dr. Mike thinks that the reason why Dr. Oz got into a little bit of trouble was because of the way he was phrasing the research to maintain his widespread audience's attention.

What type of coffee is best to drink for its health benefits?

Dr. Mike doesn't think this question is about the bean, but rather talking about light, medium and dark roast varieties. The deeper and darker the roast, the less antioxidants it has (since it's been roasted longer). Dr. Mike suggests drinking a mild roast coffee, since it retains most of the antioxidants.

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RadioMD Presents:Healthy Talk | Original Air Date: March 30, 2015
Host: Michael Smith, MD

RadioMD. It's time to Ask Dr. Mike. Do you have a question about your health? Dr. Mike can answer your questions. Just email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call now: 877-711-5211. The lines are open.

DR MIKE: So, my first question is centered around coffee. I know that, gosh, in 2012, we started talking more about the health benefits of drinking coffee and the antioxidants that are in it and some of the research was pointing towards the fact that maybe coffee could help people to lose weight. I know at Life Extension, we even talked about that a little bit based on some of that research. But, a very famous doctor got into a little bit of trouble with the way he was phrasing some of the research results. So, this is where the question comes from and here it is. This is the actual question:

"Dr. Oz went before a Congressional committee where he was ridiculed for promoting coffee as a weight loss supplement, but isn't there some research showing it is good for weight loss? Thanks. Terri."

Well, Terri, yes. So, yes, there is some research—small studies—showing some weight loss benefit with green coffee bean extract. It has to be formulated in the correct way. According to the research, the green coffee bean extract needs to be at least 50% chlorogenic acid. That's the key compound—the key antioxidant. I thought I could remember the dose. It eludes me now.

I don't know. I just forgot it, but I want to say 100mg. Yes. So, 100mg of green coffee extract, 50% of that, 50mg being chlorogenic acid. I think that was the right dose and ratio. It did show some benefit to weight loss, but, Terri, what's important to know is the research wasn't really weight loss research, though. It was more looking at the ability of chlorogenic acid to help people metabolize sugar, right?

The theory is this, and it's not well worked out, but this is the general theory and I think with more research, this will pan out to be correct. When you have elevated blood sugar and you have elevated insulin, it kind of just disrupts the ability of the cell to metabolize that sugar properly into energy. What you end up doing is, you end up storing more of that sugar as fat. I mean, sugar can convert into fat. As a matter of fact, the way your body likes to store excess calories, no matter what the source is, is fat.

That's why we're so...Our bodies love making fat. So, when you have elevated sugar, if you don't burn it, basically--just to keep it simple—if you don't burn it, you store it as fat. That's kind of the theory and we're still working that out, but there is relationship, an association, between insulin issues, sugar issues and body fat. We know that. We see that and that's a very basic theory. If you don't burn it, you store it.

So, the original research was really looking at chlorogenic acid's ability to improve insulin sensitivity so that insulin can drive the sugar inside the cell more so the cell can burn it as energy more. There's even some evidence that chlorogenic acid can block some of the enzymes that turn the sugar into fat.

So, that's really what the research was. The research did show a benefit to sugar. When subjects were given the green coffee bean extract, 50% chlorogenic acid, the proper formulation, it did improve insulin sensitivity. It did decrease blood sugar levels and, ultimately, there was some weight loss. Where I think Dr. Oz got into trouble was maybe how he was phrasing it.

He was looking at the research correctly, but being on national television, trying to keep the attention of people, he was saying things like, "Is this the next weight loss cure? The next miracle?" I think that's what this Congressional committee who was tied to the FTC, the Federal Trade Commission, that's what they were having issues with. It was more about being the advocate of the consumer and just wanting more honesty in reporting some of this research.

So, green coffee bean extract was associated with some weight loss. There is some support of that, but it's not a miracle. It's not a cure. There is no miracle or cure. I think that's where Dr. Oz really got into trouble.

So, we do—at Life Extension—we promote green coffee bean extract. We're shying away from that whole weight loss thing, because we just don't want to go there, so we're focusing just more on the benefits to healthy metabolism and healthy sugar management and, hey, that's awesome.

I want to go into another question here. This is not Terri's question, but it was one I found in my list kind of taking off with this coffee idea. The question is:

"What type of coffee is best to drink for its health benefits?"

Now, I'm going to make an assumption in answering this question. I don't think this person is asking about the type of bean itself or whether it's French or Colombian or whatever. I think what they're referring to is dark roast, light roast—that kind of thing because we know that when you take a plant like a coffee bean, you take that coffee bean and you pluck it off the plant. That's the beginning of processing and every level of processing you do to get to a final product, whether it's a capsule or a cup of coffee, that's all processing. It's levels of processing and at each level, you lose some of the antioxidants. So, I think the question really is, "What's the best way for me to drink my coffee daily and retain all those antioxidants?"

Did you guys know that most Americans get most of their antioxidants from coffee? Most Americans get most of their antioxidants from coffee. That's not a bad thing. There are a lot of good antioxidants in coffee. That's not a bad thing. Maybe there's a lot of caffeine in there, but a little caffeine's not going to get you. A couple of cups a coffee a day is probably perfectly fine as long as you're not sensitive to it. So, it's not a bad source of antioxidants, I just find it interesting that that's where we're getting most of our antioxidants.

So, if you start with the coffee bean and you pluck it off the plant, you pick it. That's processing. Then, you dry it. That's processing. Then, you roast it. That's processing. Then, you brew it. That's processing. So, you're going to be losing those antioxidants like chlorogenic acid, the key antioxidant that we're really focused on in research. You're going to lose that.

You're going to decrease the amount of that chlorogenic acid along the line of processing. How much? I don't know, but the more you do it, the more you lose. So, you might think that a dark roast, a real heavy, dark roast coffee, has more antioxidants in it. That's completely the opposite. That dark roast, actually, the bean itself underwent more roasting which means you lose some of the chlorogenic acid.

So, even though it's a dark roast, the roasting process itself has diminished chlorogenic acid. So, the deeper and darker the roast, the less antioxidants. So, you might want to do a mild roast and more mild coffee that has retained more of those antioxidants. So, I think that's what the question was.

So, what is the best coffee to drink? A mild, light roasted coffee. That would be the best way to do it. That's going to retain most of the antioxidants. Now, of course, the amount of chlorogenic acid you're getting from drinking coffee is probably not all that high. To get the 50mg, 100mg and to have an effect on sugar, you probably do need to take a capsule. So, you drink a couple cups of a light roast and you take a capsule of green coffee bean extract, 50% chlorogenic acid. That's probably the best way to do it. That way, you're going to get the benefit to metabolism, sugar and, according to the studies, maybe a little bit of a weight effect.Not a miracle. Not going to say that. But, it may help.

This is Healthy Talk on RadioMD. I'm Dr. Mike.Stay well.