Caffeine is one of the rare few fat burners that has actually been proven to work. Even though most people don't exactly consume caffeine in order to lose weight, it's already a huge part of our modern diets. It's in coffee, chocolate, energy drinks and sodas.
But if caffeine has actually been proven to burn away body fat, then why aren't the millions of coffee lovers around the world super skinny? To understand why caffeine can't live up to its full potential with our modern diets, you first need to know a little bit more about how caffeine works.
How well does caffeine work as a fat burner?
One study has proven that caffeine can boost your natural calorie burn rates by as much as 11 percent. Depending on your current weight, an 11 percent increase would mean caffeine can help you burn away as much as 150 extra calories per day. Sounds like an easy way to speed up your weight loss progress, right?
The only problem is, you'd have to drink about eight cups of coffee per day to get as big of a fat-burning boost as the people in the study got. (In case you're wondering, eight cups of coffee per day is definitely too much caffeine for you.)
So, unless you're OK with overdosing on caffeine, you can count on burning away far fewer calories with the two or three cups you probably get on a typical day. This means most people probably won't burn off more than 50 calories per day, even if they religiously stick to their coffee habit. In other words, just a single cheat meal could ruin weeks of caffeine calorie burn.
So far, that's nothing to write home about. But there's one more way in which caffeine can increase your fat burn rates. As you'll see, this effect can be far more powerful (under the right circumstances).
Here's another little-known fat-burning effect of caffeine.
On top of giving you a small boost with regard to your natural calorie burn rates, caffeine has been proven to double the release of calories from your body fat reserves. More precisely, it releases something called "free fatty acids" in your bloodstream.
Another awesome benefit, right? But again, there's a problem. Just because caffeine can release a lot of extra calories from your body fat reserves, that doesn't automatically mean you'll burn those calories away. Unless you actually burn away those calories, the released energy will simply return to your body fat reserves over time.
But, I can show you a couple of strategies you can use to make sure you burn away as much of those released calories as you can. I just need to warn you about something first.
Does it make sense to start using caffeine for fat loss?
If you're not already consuming caffeine as it is, I'd definitely advise against starting just because you hope to burn away some extra body fat. According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), caffeine is a drug. It can actually cause your body to become addicted to it.
While caffeine does bring some benefits to the table, it can also cause a few negative side effects. If you ask me, the fat burning benefits of caffeine do not outweigh picking up a new habit that might be tough to break down the road.
I used to drink about three cups of coffee per day, almost without fail. But, I can tell you firsthand that trying to break off a daily coffee habit isn't the most pleasant thing in the world.
So, before you decide to jump on the caffeine bandwagon, make sure to read through the FDA warnings about caffeine. Now, with that out of the way, let's take a look at a couple of strategies you can use to get the biggest fat-burning effect from caffeine.
How does one maximize the fat-loss effect of caffeine?
The first thing you can do is delay your breakfast by an hour or two. Have some caffeine instead. As you saw, caffeine can provide you with some extra energy, even if you don't eat any food with it.
After an overnight fast, your body will be pretty much starved for energy. In such a state, any extra calories released by caffeine will be hungrily used up for energy (instead of simply returning to your body fat reserves over time).
The second thing you can do is have some caffeine right before you exercise. Have some caffeine about half an hour before your workout to release some extra energy into your bloodstream.
If you time this right, those released calories will not be stored back to your body fat reserves over time. Instead, they are likely to be burned away through exercise.
One more option is to use caffeine while you're on a diet. In most cases, caffeine will increase your energy levels during the diet because it releases more calories from your body fat reserves. It should also help preserve your lean body mass because it helps target your body fat reserves better. Ultimately, it should improve your final weight loss results because not only does it releases more calories from your body fat reserves, but it also increases your natural calorie burn rate.