The obesity epidemic that we are currently experiencing on a worldwide level has logically lead to the desire for pharmaceutical remedies, beyond traditional weight loss methods, to rectify the problem. Because of costs and possible adverse side effects associated with pharmaceutical weight loss drugs, overweight individuals have turned towards neutraceuticals in the hope of finding a natural weight loss solution.
Green coffee extract is one such neutraceutical that has attracted some serious attention for its apparent influence on fat dynamics in the human body.
The magic ingredient appears to be a substance called chlorogenic acid. Chlorogenic acid is reputed to slow the rate of glucose release into the body after a meal. This is supposed to encourage weight loss.
Green coffee extract research is somewhat sparse concerning its fat-reducing power, however. At the moment, all we have to work with are the limited number of inconclusive studies on the substance, including a questionably designed short-term made-for-TV Green Coffee Bean Project done by television’s famous Dr. Oz.
Well-designed, coherent, and independent research demonstrating, conclusively, that this particular neutraceutical lives up to its new-found fat-burning star power is simply lacking.
The highly suspect part of this whole story, apart from questionable research, has to do with the outlandish statements that attempt to sell the idea that weight loss can be achieved with green coffee extract all the while letting the user eat whatever he or she desires, or without changing current eating habits or physical activity levels.
Regardless of the weight loss product being sold, telling prospective customers that they can eat anything they want and still lose a substantial amount of weight is basically encouraging free-for-all eating habits, and, one could say, more than just a little irresponsible. This loose eating approach can definitely lead to weight gain, whether the customer is using green coffee extract or not.
The universal laws governing caloric manipulation make it such that if an individual wishes to lose weight, that person has no choice but to eat less, or move more, or apply a combination of both strategies. So, if some pseudo-study or company is proposing that an individual can lose weight without changing his or her eating and exercise habits, there’s a fundamental flaw in the research methods or in the interpretation of the results.
In fact, the major issue with research into fat-burning products has to deal with how the actual studies are designed. By far, the biggest study hurdle to overcome in researching the proposed effects of fat burners has to do with the control over caloric manipulation while study participants are using the substance being tested.
This challenge appears to be evident in one particular study that has garnered quite some interest by green coffee extract sellers and was referenced to on The Dr. Oz Show and on the Dr. Oz website. The study in question, published in Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity: Targets and Therapy, shows interesting weight reduction results with participants using a green coffee extract product. But, interestingly enough, participants in the placebo group (those that did not use the active product being tested) also lost weight. This points towards the very strong possibility that caloric restriction might have been the driving force behind the noted weight loss, not necessarily the green coffee extract.
One of the possible influences behind these unusual results is the error of misreporting of caloric intake when participants are required to outline what they have eaten in any given period of a clinical study. While the trend seems to be in favour of under-reporting caloric intake, over-reporting also has its hand in the game.
The same research study design dilemma also applies when it comes to determining how many calories study participants burn each day during a study period.
This is a classic dual-challenge in any research design that requires that study participants keep note of their caloric intake (food) and caloric expenditure (physical activity). There is simply too much variability to deal with. Ultimately, it makes it very difficult to determine if it was a calorie-restricted diet, modified daily physical activity, or the weight loss supplement being tested that lead to the change in body weight.
Then there is the green coffee extract toxicity issue that needs to be addressed. Based on the limited research, green coffee looks to be safe in the short term. Side effects appear to be associated with the caffeine content of green coffee. That being said, just how much green coffee extract is considered safe before a person consumes levels that might be toxic? Seeing as green coffee extract is a relative new-comer to the supplement arena, long-term toxicity reports appear to be non-existent for the moment. This makes it very difficult for the consumer to judge safe upper limits and the potential for negative health issues associated with extended use.
This particular detail needs to be addressed because many people tend to lean towards the more-is-better mentality. Seeing as most individuals want to lose their weight fast, it is not unreasonable to believe that those users might make a leap in logic and assume that consuming more green coffee extract than what is proposed is a viable approach to adopt in an effort to stimulate greater and faster results, thus exposing the user to possible toxicity issues. There’s an old adage that gives this notion meaning: it’s the dose that makes the poison. Simply translated, too much of anything can be a bad thing. We just don’t have any data on humans to establish how much green coffee extract is too much.
The last thing a user must take into consideration is the duration that he or she wants the results to last. If, by some miracle, green coffee extract should lead a person to lose some weight, that individual might just be stuck using the product indefinitely. Logic dictates that cessation of use puts a person at the risk of erasing the very results the product helped he or she obtain in the first place.
In the end, it would be best not rely on green coffee extract as a weight loss approach. If, in fact, it does work, the size of the effect appears to be small and probably not very relevant in the grand scheme of things. It could also be an expensive miracle solution in the long run.
Personally, I drink my coffee black.