Drinking Coffee Might Aid In Weight Loss

Roasted coffee beans in Bogota
Roasted coffee beans are seen on display at a Juan Valdez store in Bogota (Photo: Reuters)

The natural way to remain slim, or to reduce weight, appears to be getting your body to burn-up more "brown fat" tissue and drinking coffee apparently does just that.

A new study from the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom published Monday reveals drinking coffee might activate the body's "brown fat reserves," which some scientists say is part of our body's fat-fighting defenses. If confirmed by subsequent research, this finding might have huge implications in the battle against obesity and diabetes.

Our body's brown fat reserves, also known as "brown adipose tissue," play a key role in how quickly we burn calories. Our body also has what are called white cells that store fat, which is converted into energy whenever we move or work or think.

Brown cells generate heat when they're in use. This heat is generated by burning sugar and fat. This often occurs in response to cold, said Prof. Michael Symonds from the School of Medicine at the University of Nottingham, who co-directed the study.

"Increasing its activity improves blood sugar control as well as improving blood lipid levels and the extra calories burnt help with weight loss," said Symonds. "However, until now, no one has found an acceptable way to stimulate its activity in humans."

The University of Nottingham scientists began by testing coffee on stem cells to see if it would stimulate brown fat. Once they found the right dose, they moved on to humans to see if the results were similar.

They used a thermal imaging technique to trace the brown fat reserves and see how it produces heat. Four men and five women were involved in this experiment.

Prof. Symonds said that from their previous work, they knew brown fat is located mainly in the neck region. Researchers were, therefore, able to image a volunteer immediately after he had a drink of coffee to see if the brown fat got hotter.

"The results were positive and we now need to ascertain that caffeine as one of the ingredients in the coffee is acting as the stimulus or if there's another component helping with the activation of brown fat," said Prof. Symonds

He said once "researchers have confirmed which component is responsible for this outcome, it might be used as part of a weight-management regime or part of glucose regulation program to help prevent diabetes.

The study involved only nine people and research is still at a very early stage. Scientists say they still need to determine what it is about coffee that burns fat.

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