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Want to avoid the holiday bulge? Drink coffee

Published Dec 25th, 2019 1:27PM EST
coffee weight loss
Image: Shutterstock

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The holidays are a time to kick back, relax, and remind ourselves of all the people that make our lives special… or at least that’s supposed to be the case. In reality, most of us just get more stressed than usual, scramble to buy gifts, and then count the seconds until we can hit the reset button and start a new year. Oh, and we eat a lot.

Packing on a few extra pounds around the holidays is something that a lot of us struggle with. There’s just so much good food floating around that it’s virtually impossible not to overindulge. The good news — if you’re a coffee drinker, at least — is that the popular early morning beverage might actually help you keep those holiday pounds at bay.

In a new study published in the Journal of Functional Foods, researchers reveal that rats who were given diets high in fat and sugar managed to keep more weight off if their diets were also supplemented with caffeine.

For the study, the researchers used several groups of rodents, feeding them all a diet high in both fat and carbohydrates. For four weeks, the rats enjoyed their binge-friendly diet. During that time, one of the groups of rats was given caffeine-rich mate tea, while the others were given decaffeinated mate tea. Others were given caffeine extracted from coffee, and still another group was given synthetic caffeine.

The amount of caffeine the “caffeinated” rodents consumed was comparable to a human who drinks roughly four cups of coffee per day. When the month was up, the body mass of each rat was tallied. The lean body mass and body fat of each rat was recorded and then compared.

When the rats reached the “finish line,” to speak, the rodents who consumed the caffeine along with their high-calorie diet had gained approximately 16% less weight and, perhaps even more interesting, 22% less body fat.

“The consumption of caffeine from mate or from other sources alleviated the negative impact of a high-fat, high-sucrose diet on body composition due to the modulation of certain lipogenic enzymes in both adipose tissue and the liver,” Elvira Gonzalez de Mejia, co-author of the research, said in a statement. “The decreased expression of Fasn and Lpl brought about lower synthesis and accumulation of triglycerides in the adipose tissue.”

It’s not a “magic bullet” for keeping weight off, of course, and drinking large quantities of caffeine carries its own potential health risks. Still, it’s an interesting finding, and a nice bonus if you’re the kind of person who starts their day coffee anyway.

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