In life, there are a few things that are just too good to be true, like the perfect man (or woman), that easy get rich quick scheme you saw on an infomercial, or my boss’s hope that I will start making it to work on time (I’m trying I swear). So when I heard that consuming a little green coffee bean extract was proven to help people lose weight, I immediately wanted to know more so I could either promote it to my patients, or file it away in the too good to be true category.
But for starters, what is green coffee bean extract and how is it supposed to help people lose weight? Green coffee bean extract is a supplement made from unroasted – or green – coffee beans. To make the extract, the coffee beans are soaked to extract the naturally occurring caffeine and chlorogenic acid, which is then dried down and concentrated. Because the beans are not roasted, they are alleged to contain more antioxidant power rather regular roasted coffee beans.
Use of the green coffee bean extract has been promoted for weight loss since the publication of a 2012 study where participants who took a green coffee bean extract supplement lost about 18 lbs on average – all without changing their diet or adding any exercise. Buzz for the supplement grew when it was promoted on the Dr. Oz show and when my beloved Starbucks created a line of Refreshers, which are a low calorie drink with the green coffee bean extract added in for “natural energy”. Supporters claim that the biggest fat fighter comes not from caffeine, which is a known stimulant that is linked to weight loss, but the cholorgenic acid, which is alleged to have a high amount of antioxidants, the ability to improve insulin levels, and it may even reduce sugar and fat absorption in the gut.
While that may sound great, there are very few published studies that have examined the extract’s effects on weight loss, and none them have studied the extract’s effects over the long term. Although it appears that taking green coffee bean extract is relatively safe, one should note that ingesting too much chlorogenic acid may raise heart disease risk since it elevates levels of an amino acid called homocysteine (which is associated with cardiovascular disease).
While the initial research is promising, I did a quick Google of green coffee bean extract supplements and many of them were not cheap…I personally wouldn’t pay that much for a supplement that may or may not help me lose weight. If I’m going to invest in a product, I want to know that it works and I’m sure many of you feel the same way. However, I do love the Starbucks Refreshers drinks (anyone else think that the Cool Lime flavor would be great with a little rum added? Although I’m sure that counteracts any health benefits…).
My final word on green coffee bean extract is this: if you don’t mind spending the money for a quality supplement, I encourage you to try it out for yourself as long as you avoid over supplementation. But if you don’t want to splurge on the extract, I can assure you that many people lose weight and maintain a healthy weight without it.
Now if only someone would bring me a Refresher to work…