If you’ve been snapping up bottles of green coffee bean extract or sipping on Starbucks’ Refreshers in an effort to lose weight quickly, save your money: recent research has found that green coffee bean extract may not aid in weight loss efforts–and it may also be damaging to your health.
Green coffee bean extract garnered buzz when Dr. Oz labeled it as “the green coffee bean that burns fat fast” without diet or exercise. In his own study, women who took a 400 mg supplement lost an average of two pounds in two weeks, compared to just one pound in the placebo group. Other studies suggest that green coffee bean extract provides only moderate weight loss benefits, at best–and those studies have been criticized.
According to some experts, the chlorogenic acid naturally found in coffee beans is preserved when the beans aren’t roasted. Chlorogenic acid may block fat accumulation, boost weight loss, curb carb absorption, and regulate blood sugar levels. Chlorogenic acid is the main component in other weight loss supplements, but until now, it hasn’t been studied for its singular effects on obesity and metabolic syndrome.
In a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, mice who were fed a high-fat diet and mice who were fed a high-fat diet plus chlorogenic extract gained the same amount of weight. Surprisingly, however, mice whose diets were supplemented with chlorogenic acid were more likely to develop disorders that lead to type 2 diabetes; they also accumulated fat in their livers, indicating that high levels of chlorogenic acid may be detrimental to health.
According to Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, there may be other dangers associated with green coffee bean extract. For one, supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA, which means that they don’t go through the same rigorous safety tests as medicines. Plus, the supplements might contain much more–or much less–of the active ingredient than what’s listed on the label, making the supplements either dangerous or simply ineffective. And caffeine-based supplements can react with other stimulants, resulting in dangerously high blood pressure levels, GI upset, insomnia, or an irregular heartbeat.
At the end of the day, there’s still no quick fix for weight loss. Instead of shelling out $30 for a month’s supply of pills, focus on eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, and healthy fats; and aim to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day.