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Mercer Island MD: New study may prove coffee before exercise burns fat

For those looking to get rid of the excess weight they may have gained during the pandemic, how about a cup of coffee? A new study seems to point to positive results. Mercer Island MD Dr. Gordon Cohen joined Seattle’s Morning News to discuss how it works.

“There is a new study out in the Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition, and it’s about coffee. Now, the interesting thing about it is that this study suggests that if you drink coffee before exercise it may help you actually burn more fat. And it’s sort of interesting because this concept about the relationship between caffeine and exercise has been known for a long time,” Cohen said.

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“Previous research has actually shown us that there is an association between caffeine consumption and increased exercise performance, but the amount of information relative to its effect on fat metabolism is not really well known,” he added.

The study took a group of men and examined how coffee played a role in their oxygen intake during exercise.

“It was done in Spain, actually, and they took 32-year-old men and they gave them either placebo or coffee, and they looked at their maximum oxygen uptake and their maximum fat oxidation. And they found that if they drank coffee — 50 mg of caffeine, which is the equivalent to a strong cup of coffee — 30 minutes prior to doing aerobic exercise, that it actually enhanced their metabolism and fat during the exercise,” he said.

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“And so this could actually play a role in improving fat loss with exercise,” Dr. Cohen continued. “Now, it’s not an acute thing. It’s not like you drink a cup of coffee and go out and exercise, and suddenly you’re burning off all your fat. But as a general practice, it could work.”

Since we’ve often gone back and forth on the health benefits of coffee over the years, are we now to the point where the benefits do outweigh the drawbacks?

“So the increase in fat burning after consuming caffeine over time could really be important for weight maintenance and weight loss,” Cohen said. “But it’s only going to work — and only have an effect on weight loss — if there’s a negative energy balance. A negative energy balance means that you burn more calories than you take in.”

“This has to be taken in the context of diet, exercise, and caffeine consumption,” he added. “It’s not going to work all by itself.”

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