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Coffee's Alter Ego: Green Coffee Extract for Weight Loss

Daniela Rambaldini Article by: Daniela Rambaldini
Date: Dec 02, 2013 · Posted in: Antioxidants, Metabolism, Weight Management, Herbal Medicine
Coffee's Alter Ego: Green Coffee Extract for Weight Loss

Few aromas rival the unique scent of freshly brewed coffee in the morning. But what about green coffee bean extract? It has generated quite the buzz as a weight loss supplement.


Coffee as a Remedy

Worldwide, coffee (together with green, black, and white tea) is the most commonly used herbal stimulant. A lesser-known fact is that for centuries, coffee has also been an important medicinal remedy for a variety of purposes. Modern science confirms that coffee helps to:

-       Improve physical energy and endurance

-       support healthy metabolism and body weight

-       boost mental clarity, memory recall, learning ability, and information retention

-       reduce the risk of inflammatory disorders including cardiovascular diseases, and metabolic disorders such as insulin resistance, diabetes, liver steatosis (also known as fatty liver), and pancreatic steatosis (also known as fatty pancreas).


An impressive list — but not everyone enjoys the taste or stimulating effects of this beverage and some are even sensitive to its irritating effects on the digestive tract.


Enter green coffee bean extract, a natural health product that has recently become wildly popular as an anti-obesity and weight loss supplement.


How Green Coffee Extract Works

Coffee beans, whether they are roasted or unroasted (green), contain a vast array of bioactive compounds. Caffeine is a stimulant: it increases energy, physical endurance, metabolic rate, thermogenesis, and rate of weight loss.


But there are other compounds in coffee appear to have similar metabolic benefits without the stimulating effects. Studies on animals and cultured cells suggest they affect the activity of metabolic enzymes and hormones in the liver, pancreas, and fat cells. Some clinical studies on humans have yielded similar results.


Green Coffee and your Liver


The liver is most popularly known as the primary organ for detoxification. However, it also plays a pivotal role in immunity, metabolism, digestion, cardiovascular health, wound healing, and other essential functions. When it comes to weight loss, most people forget that supporting liver function is just as important as exercising and eating a healthy diet.


The liver helps to balance blood levels of sugars and fats, regulate the metabolism and storage of glucose and fats, maintain hormone balance, and influence inflammatory reactions in the body. All of these functions are essential for slimming your physique and keeping the weight off.


Herbs and foods that promote healthy liver function can be powerful tools for helping you get rid of stubborn fat.


The liver stores energy in the form of a complex sugar known as glycogen, which it breaks down into glucose when blood sugar levels begin to dip below normal physiological levels. An enzyme known as glucose-6-phosphatase performs the final step in the biochemical reaction that ultimately converts glycogen into glucose. If this enzyme is somehow inhibited and the liver is unable to synthesize glucose to release into the bloodstream, the body reverts to metabolizing stored fat via a process known as lipolysis (which literally means "fat breakdown").


One group of polyphenol compounds present in green coffee bean extract, known as chlorogenic acids, inhibits glucose-6-phosphatase activity in the liver. These polyphenols promote the breakdown of stored fats into smaller subunits, which can then be metabolized into usable energy by body cells. Other compounds found in green coffee bean extract may have similar metabolic effects, but most studies have focused on the activity of chlorogenic acids.  


Green Coffee and Pancreatic Enzymes


Chlorogenic acids also show inhibitory effects on an enzyme known as pancreatic lipase, which is secreted by the pancreas. This enzyme breaks down dietary fats in the small intestine, making their subunits available for absorption into the bloodstream. When the function of this enzyme is hindered, fewer fats are digested and absorbed. This essentially decreases the caloric and fat content of a meal.


One thing to note is that if dietary fats aren’t digested, they’ll be excreted via the stool. This could cause intestinal discomfort in some people, especially if green coffee bean extract is combined with a high fat meal. Although most clinical studies on green coffee bean report that very few subjects experienced side effects when using this herbal supplement, it’s important to be aware of this potential for this.


Green Coffee vs. a Cup of Java


There are at least four reasons people might prefer green coffee bean extract over drinking roasted coffee beans:


1.       Not everyone enjoys the taste of coffee.

2.       People may be sensitive to the irritating effects coffee sometimes has on the digestive tract.

3.       Green coffee bean extract contains comparably less caffeine than roasted, brewed coffee.

4.       Chlorogenic acids are present in only small amounts in roasted coffee, as most of them are degraded by heat.

5.       The antioxidant content and activity of green coffee bean is usually higher than roasted coffee. Antioxidant activity is generally higher in light and medium roasts, freshly brewed coffee, and Coffea robusta versus Coffea arabica varieties.


For best results, take one capsule of 200 to 400 mg green coffee bean extract containing at least 45% chlorogenic acids 30 minutes before the two largest meals you eat per day. For lasting results, use for a minimum of 10 weeks and combine with a healthy diet plus regular physical exercise.


The primary caveat of green coffee bean extract is that more clinical studies are required to conclusively confirm the effectiveness and long-term safety of this supplement. However, there are no remedies that are one-size-fits-all. Some people find that green coffee extract works very well to maintain a health weight. If green coffee extract isn’t the best fit for you, there are other herbs and supplements that could help you reach your goals.