Photo of raw coffee beans on a tree
Unroasted coffee beans contain a substance that may speed weight loss [Image: Wanhoff - Wikimedia Commons]

Green coffee bean supplement
may aid weight loss

10 May, 2012

Natural Health News — There is new evidence that green, or unroasted, coffee beans can produce a substantial decrease in body weight in a relatively short period of time.

In a study published in the journal Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity researchers from the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania  describe how a small group of overweight or obese people who consumed a fraction of an ounce of ground green coffee beans each day lost about 10% of their body weight.

“Based on our results, taking multiple capsules of green coffee extract a day – while eating a low-fat, healthful diet and exercising regularly – appears to be a safe, effective, inexpensive way to lose weight,” said lead author Joe Vinson, PhD.

The small study involved 16 overweight or obese people aged 22-26 years who took capsules of the extract or capsules containing a placebo for a total of 22 weeks.

Comparing doses

The study participants alternated between a low dose and a higher dose of the extract and a placebo with a two week ‘wash-out’ period in between each phase of the trial when participants simply ate normally.

The wash out period serves as a reset for each individual and this type of ‘cross-over’ study has advantages because each person serves as his or her own “control,” improving the chances of getting an accurate result.

The low dose consisted of 700 mg of the coffee extract, and the high dose was 1,050 mg. All of the participants were monitored for their overall diet (calories, food eaten, etc.) and exercise over the study period. Their calories, carbohydrates, fats and protein intake did not change during the study, nor did their exercise regimen change.

10% decrease in weight

Participants lost an average of 17 pounds during the 22 weeks of the study. There was an average of a 10.5% decrease in overall body weight and a 16% decrease in body fat.

Vinson noted that the higher dose seemed to be the most effective and said that weight loss might have been significantly faster, except that participants received the placebo and the lower dose of green coffee extract for part of the study period.

The study was funded by Applied Food Sciences, which makes the green coffee antioxidant supplement. However previous studies have also shown that green coffee can aid weight loss.

This study was the first to use higher amounts of the coffee extract and the first to compare the response to various doses.

Beyond caffeine

Based on those studies, Vinson believes that the effects of green coffee bean extract is is not due to its caffeine content; caffeine actually accounts for a very small percentage of the coffee bean’s make-up.

Instead, it is likely due to a substance called chlorogenic acid that is present in unroasted coffee beans.

Chlorogenic acid breaks down when coffee beans are roasted (usually at a temperature of 464-482 degrees Fahrenheit). Roasting gives coffee beans their distinctive colour, aroma and flavour. Green coffee beans, in contrast, have a more herby aroma and a slightly bitter taste.