Coffee – The Good and the Bad

Coffee – The Good and the Bad

The weather is getting colder, the mornings are going to be getting darker and pumpkin spice lattes are here. Most of us start our day with a cup of coffee as it is, but our reliance on it only increases as the cold sets in.

We live in an age where we literally run on coffee. Not only is it a part of our morning routine, but coffee shops are a place in which to socialise and conduct business meetings – with their fancy advertising and premium flavoured coffees, who could resist?

But how does the consumption of coffee affect our fat loss goals?

Caffeine, found in coffee, is great for fat loss. Upon consumption of caffeine your body begins to free up fat molecules within fat stores, releasing them into your bloodstream in order to be used for energy. This means instead of using up carbohydrates as an energy source, your using and losing fat, which is pretty much always the aim!

Caffeine also has the ability to block pain receptors within the body and when used in conjunction with resistance training, can reduce the intensity of the ‘pain’ you feel when your muscle burns. This can help you to complete more reps and increase the overall volume of your training sessions, which is vital for hypertrophy.

Now, whilst caffeine can be good for fat loss, your daily coffee might not be so good. The addition of flavoured syrups and milk mean you’re consuming higher calories, and possibly more importantly, a higher amount of sugar. Consuming high amounts of sugar is often detrimental to fat loss goals, and could be the reason you’re not losing weight. In light of the UK’s plan to impose a sugar tax on drinks with high sugar content it was found that drinks from coffee shops contained up to 25 teaspoons of sugar per serving.

Consuming this amount of sugar in one drink is a lot of calories and will not help you be in a calorie deficit for the day. In addition, consuming liquid calories is less likely to make you feel full, meaning you’re likely to consume more calories overall. Both of these things will mean you’re less likely to see your body change for the better.


As well as an increase in sugar and calorie intake, drinking high amounts of caffeine will lead to increased cortisol levels. Caffeine is a stimulant and will cause the body to increase cortisol levels in order to manage such stimulation.

Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands and is responsible for helping the body deal with stress. High levels of cortisol over an extended period of time are likely to, amongst a whole load of other health related issues, increase insulin resistance and fat storage. This means that having 5-6 cups of coffee a day, on a regular basis, is not going to help you drop fat whether or not it has 25g of sugar in it.

Regularly drinking high amounts of coffee will also dampen the ergogenic effect it has on your body. In other words high caffeine consumption will lead to your body becoming unaffected by caffeine entirely.

So how can you still enjoy coffee and stay in line with your fat loss goals?

First of all cut out all of the unnecessary sugar, milk, cream and flavourings. They may make your coffee taste nicer, and are okay as a treat every now and then, but on a regular basis will not help your squeeze into those jeans that you could two years ago.

You should also consider limiting your coffee intake in order to maintain the increase in energy it should provide. This will also give your adrenal glands a break, ensure that cortisol levels are not unnecessarily raised and mean that you are not as likely to store fat.

These considerations will help to ensure that when you do reach for a cuppa, that you will feel an energy boosting, fat loss inducing result that will mean smiles all round!

Graeme Lee
Top Local Trainer Author
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