A recent study is giving us all another reason to enjoy that cup of coffee. Research conducted by the University of Illinois indicates that caffeine may help to slow weight gain from an “obesogenic” diet—a diet that is likely to make you gain weight, such as eating foods high in fat and sugar.
The study was conducted over a four week period and involved feeding different groups of rats the same diet. The diet consisted of 40 per cent fat, 45 per cent carbohydrates, and 15 per cent protein (essentially the opposite of a Mediterranean diet). Some of the rats were also given what would be the equivalent of four cups of coffee per day from various sources. When the four weeks were done, the rats given caffeine had gained 16 per cent less weight and had added 22 per cent less body fat than the other rats. Curious, the researchers tracked down what they feel is the cause, namely that caffeine decreases the accumulation of lipids in adipose cells by 20 to 40 per cent. They also tracked the expression of genes associated with lipid metabolism and obesity, discovering that caffeine consumption also drops production of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides in the liver. “Considering the findings…caffeine can be considered anti-obesity agents,” says the study. “The results of this research could be scaled to humans to understand the role of caffeine as potential strategies to prevent overweight and obesity, as well as the subsequent metabolic disorders associated with these conditions.”
So go ahead and have that doughnut in the morning, as long as you accompany it with a cup of coffee. The caffeine just might help you keep the weight off—if you’re a rat. The study still needs to be done with humans to fully understand if caffeine is a viable strategy to “prevent overweight and obesity, as well as the subsequent metabolic disorders associated with these conditions.”