Can Coffee Help You Lose Weight? Practical Experience on What Works With Coffee.
Here’s how my father lost weight aided by his coffee drinking habits.
An article about coffee and weight loss published in a recent US News & World Report fired up a latent synapse in my brain and brought back a memory about my father; One in which I observed a weight loss plan supported by the article that worked for him.
My father was not a vain man. Nor was he ever overly concerned about his health. He ate a farmer’s diet in the Midwest, and as we all know, once you begin to really age, your activity level does not keep up with your typical caloric intake and thereby you gain weight.
The turning point for my father was a planned trip to go to the Grand Canyon and ride mules on the way down and back up. However, at 235 pounds, he found out that he was too heavy for the canyon mule ride requirements.
What probably kept this memory in my head after all of these years, is that there is nothing that makes a lasting impression on a child than to see their parent do something that is uncharacteristic. Like the time during a wedding celebration with an open bar upon which I saw as a real cash savings opportunity. Apparently, I wound up taking the mic away from someone on stage and professed my love for my wife before a room full of wedding guests—none of whom I knew or was related to. The bride was not impressed. To this day my kids mark this as “that time Daddy got drunk.”
My point being, that I saw my dad change his behavior so that he could go to the Grand Canyon and ride the mules. He was determined to lose weight before summer arrived. Earthshaking in the eyes of a child in a world where parents don’t…and should not…change.
My dad’s plan was simple: fill his plate as usual, then remove one-half and make that his meal. Now, before you roll your eyes, you have to know that this was before the days of all the fad diets of today. Long before the internet took over. When vibrating belt machines could still be seen advertised for spot reduction weight loss; And, Jack LaLanne was still alive and kicking butt.
What makes this remarkable in my mind is that he did this living in a house with the greatest cook in the world—my mom. Never a week went by without her having made at least three different desserts to keep us overly-fed after a bountiful meal. Her secret to great tasting desserts was that four-letter word: LARD. And the more the better. And even under his self-imposed diet, my father still had his desserts, but half as much.
However, what I believe really helped him stick to his diet was how he increased his coffee consumption and when he chose to drink his coffee.
My dad was of the generation that you got up at five in the morning, made coffee and poured a cup or two, and turned on the morning news before beginning the day. Breakfast was at seven. He was as predictable as the sun.
What changed, however, is that around 10 in the morning, he would go back into the house and have his third cup of coffee. Rest a bit while reading a pulp Western, and then go back to work.
Lunchtime was always at noon. Another cup of coffee or two, and back to work by 1 p.m.
Another change was that between 3 and 4 p.m., he was back in the house for a cup of coffee, some more Zane Grey and then out the door to finish his farming or project for the day. Dinner was at 6 on the dot, followed by evening coffee and a small dessert. Bed by 10. Two pots of coffee gone with the day. All his.
What resulted was that in a few months, he slimmed down and was able to meet his goal and did make it to the Grand Canyon and ride the mules. It was one of his life achievements. And he was happy.
The point to this remembrance is that in the US News and World Report article, writer Elaine K. Howley made some good points about what has been the most practical advice concerning weight loss and coffee.
While past notions have focused on Dr. Oz and the miracle of caffeinated pills and green tea; a variety of fasting methods; and, a lot of weight loss supplements, what has stood the test of time is common sense as pointed out by the article: eat less, exercise more and perhaps gain some added help with coffee through its metabolism-boosting and appetite-suppression properties.
“Having a cup or two of coffee before you go workout may be the best way coffee can help you lose weight…This is because the caffeine can act as "an ergogenic aid to improve physical performance with sports or exercise," which can help you get through a tough workout.
"If consuming moderate amounts of caffeinated coffee provides that boost you need to get through your workout or to provide more energy to plan and prepare a healthy meal, then feel free to do so, especially if you're not part of an at-risk population for adverse reactions.”
I believe that what coffee did for my dad toward his successful weight loss was not only did it act as an appetite suppressant, but that it also provided him with an almost ritualistic routine that fostered his reduced meals and helped keep him on track. Sipping coffee and reading a pulp Western novel possibly served as distractors to keep the nagging pressure of dieting at bay. Dieting never leaves anyone feeling energized, and adding more coffee to his diet likely provided the pep he needed before lunch, during the 3-4 p.m. energy slump, and curbed the early evening after-dinner dessert.
In any case, it worked for him.
If you have found coffee plays an important role in your weight control, tell us about it in the comments section below.
Timothy Boyer has a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Arizona. For 20+ years he has been employed as a freelance health and science writer. Timothy continues writing about science with a focus on the connection between coffee and healthy living. For continual updates about the benefits of coffee on your health, you can also follow Timothy on Twitter at TimBoyerWrites.
Images courtesy of Pixabay
“Can Coffee Help You Lose Weight? Myths about the Coffee Cleanse Diet” by Elaine K. Howley, US News & World Report June 8, 2020.