How to Lose Weight with Coffee

Five Parts:Drinking Coffee SensiblyGetting the Physical Benefits of CoffeeAvoiding Caloric Coffee PitfallsEating a Balanced DietGetting Regular Physical Activity

Like many people, you may want to drop a few pounds as quickly as possible. Some people suggest drinking coffee as a dietary aid. But the role of coffee and caffeine in weight loss plan is heavily debated. Caffeine may help you lose a bit of weight or even prevent weight gain, but it cannot help you lose significant weight or keep it off permanently. However, by drinking coffee sensibly and combining it with a healthy diet and exercise regimen, you can lose weight.[1]

Part 1
Drinking Coffee Sensibly

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    Drink coffee in healthy amounts. A little bit of coffee goes a long way. It can temporarily suppress your appetite and may stimulate minimal calorie burning. But excessive coffee consumption can lead to increased stress levels and insomnia, both of which can lead to overeating. Just 1 or 2 cups of fully-caffeinated coffee per day may be enough to help you lose weight. In total, you should have no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine per day.[2] This is the equivalent of four cups of brewed coffee, 10 cans of cola, or two “energy shot” drinks.[3]
    • Keep in mind that coffee is your best bet in terms of losing weight. One cup of black coffee has only 2 calories and no fat.[4] Beverages like soda and energy drinks may be high in calories or have hidden sugar that can hinder your weight loss.
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    Space out your coffee times. If you want to reap the most weight-loss benefits from drinking coffee, considering spacing out your intake throughout the day. Not only can this give you an added boost at work or during exercise, but may also suppress food cravings.
    • Stick to the daily limits as much as possible. For example, if you can safely drink 4 cups of coffee per day, you could have a cup in the morning, one at lunch, one mid-afternoon and a cup at dinner. Adjust the schedule to see what works best for you.
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    Try half-caff. If you want to drink more coffee throughout your day, try switching to a mixture of full and decaffeinated beans, often called half-caff. This will allow you to safely drink coffee up to 8 times a day and may help you more effectively lose weight.
    • Make sure to read product labels to ensure you’re getting half-caffeinated coffee. The label may also indicate how much caffeine is in a cup. So long as you’re staying within the safe consumption limits every day, you can have as many cups of half-caff as you like.
    • Make your own half-caff by mixing one half cup of regular coffee with one half cup of decaf coffee. Another trick is to drink a half a cup of regular coffee with a half a cup of hot water.

Part 2
Getting the Physical Benefits of Coffee

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    Reduce cravings with a cup of coffee. One of coffee's positive attributes is its ability to suppress your appetite.[5] Try drinking some coffee if you find yourself craving food or going for seconds at meals. This may reduce your cravings until a meal or to get you through a long meal.
    • Consider having decaf or half-caf if you don’t want to drink a full cup of coffee or its close to your bedtime. You should avoid caffeine within 4-6 hours of your bedtime if possible. Drinking coffee too close to your bedtime can interrupt your sleep and promote weight gain.[6]
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    Augment coffee with water. Although coffee can act as a diuretic, it won’t cause dehydration.[7] But drinking coffee and water together throughout the day may help you stay fuller longer and avoid the temptation of eating. In addition, it can prevent you from drinking too much coffee and disrupting your sleep.[8]
    • Aim to get 3 liters of water a day if you are a man and 2.2 if you are a woman.[9] Water is important to hydrate you, but hunger may also signal thirst instead of a need for food.[10]
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    Sip coffee before a workout. Coffee may stimulate thermogenesis, which is a way the body makes heat and energy from digesting food. It can result in the loss of some extra calories.[11] By sipping coffee in conjunction with a workout, you may help your body burn more calories and fat.[12]
    • Drink about 200mg of caffeine from coffee for optimal results with a workout. This would be the equivalent of a grande Americano or tall regular brewed coffee from a place like Starbucks.

Part 3
Avoiding Caloric Coffee Pitfalls

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    Read product labels. Specialty coffee products and coffees taste great, but they can come with unnecessary extra calories or fat and sugar, which can contribute to weight gain. In addition, anything you put in your coffee like cream or sugar will increase the calorie content of your coffee. Reading the labels of any coffee products you purchase can help you stay away from coffee that may hinder your ability to lose weight.[13]
    • Remember that with weight loss, every calorie counts, even if it is in liquid form.
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    Leave out the cream and sugar. Coffee only has two calories per cup. Adding cream and sugar to your coffee can significantly increase the caloric content. If you cannot drink black coffee, use skim milk and sugar-free sweeteners instead.[14]
    • Be aware that heavy whipping cream and half-and-half have 52 and 20 calories per tablespoon respectively. They also have a lot of fat. Table sugar has 49 calories per tablespoon. Adding just one tablespoon of each adds about 100 empty calories. If you usually add more, than can easily end up adding calories that promote weight gain.
    • Eliminate butter if you like butter, or bulletproof coffee. One tablespoon of butter is 102 calories and has almost 12 grams of fat. Both of these can keep you from losing weight. Try switching to a skim milk or heartier unsweetened nut milk like coconut for richer flavor.[15]
    • Make sure to get unsweetened creamers and milks. Flavored milks often use sugar or other additives that add empty calories. Reading the nutrition information on the products can help you figure out how many calories each serving of a given product has.[16]
    • Consider drinking iced coffee if the taste of plain black coffee is too strong. It often has a milder taste. Just make sure it’s not sweetened with sugar.
    • Add flavors to your regular coffee. Sprinkling in some cinnamon, plain cacao, or honey can sweeten coffee and help you enjoy the taste more.[17]
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    Avoid specialty coffee beverages. Many cafes and coffee shops offer tasty specialty coffees that come in alluring flavors such as pumpkin spice or mint mocha. But these drinks are often more like desserts that have hundreds of calories and added fat each. If you’re trying to lose weight, stick to simple brewed coffee and allow yourself an occasional treat.[18]
    • Read the nutrition information before you get specialty coffees. If it is not posted, ask the manager for a listing of products and their nutritional information.
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    Look for ways to reduce the calories. Remember that it’s occasionally acceptable to splurge and have a specialty coffee beverage. However, if you really want a specialty beverage and want to avoid calories, consider alternative additions to reduce the calories.[19]
    • Order the smallest size possible and ask for sugar-free syrup, skim milk, and artificial sweetener instead of regular options. Tell the barista, or person making the coffee, to skip the whipped cream on top of your coffee. All of these together can help you save a lot of empty calories.[20]

Part 4
Eating a Balanced Diet

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    Eat regular, nutrient-rich meals. Your diet plays a considerable role in how much weight you lose. Having three balanced and healthy meals every day can help you shed weight and burn excess fat. Whole foods that are high in vitamins and minerals, complex carbohydrates, and moderate amounts of fat can promote your well being and help you lose weight.
    • Subtracting 500-1000 calories from your current intake is a good rule of thumb to follow when cutting calories. Remember that you shouldn’t go below 1,200 calories a day or you may not see any results and also be miserable because you’re not getting enough to eat. If you want to know an exact number, the National Institutes of Health has devised a new tool that can help you specifically pinpoint how many calories you need every day in order to lose weight. There are many different sites at which you can access this calculator including and
    • Incorporate different foods from the five food groups into your daily meals and snacks. The five food groups are: fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, and dairy. Make sure to vary your choices so that you get a range of nutrients to promote your health and weight loss. Healthy foods often also have a lot of fiber, which can help keep you full throughout the day.[21] Eat whole fruits and vegetables such as raspberries, blueberries, broccoli and carrots. Get your whole grains from foods like whole wheat pasta or bread, oatmeal, brown rice or cereal. For protein, eat lean cuts of meat like pork or poultry as well as cooked beans, eggs, or peanut butter. Your dairy will come from sources like cheese, yogurt, cow and nut milks, and even ice cream.
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    Say no to junk food. It might taste great, but junk food is a dieter’s worst enemy. Unhealthy foods are often loaded with fat and calories that can keep you from losing weight.[22]
    • Avoid starchy foods made out of refined carbohydrates like white bread, pasta, rice, and baked goods. Not eating these foods or replacing them with whole wheat versions can help keep you full and lose weight.[23]
    • Read labels for hidden sugar in your food choices. Look for words such as corn syrup, sucrose, dextrose, or maltose, which are types of sugars.
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    Change to your diet slowly. Eating healthy is not something you do for a few weeks, but for your lifetime. This can help you lose and keep off the weight. You might be excited to overhaul your diet, but doing so gradually can keep you from going back to bad habits.
    • Consider beginning by replacing processed foods or junk food. For example, try brown rice with meals instead of white rice. You can also add more vegetables to your plate than rice. You could also make air-popped popcorn or bake kale chips instead of having potato chips.
    • Let yourself to cheat once a week or if you reach a certain goal. Cheat days can prevent cravings and overindulgence.[24]
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    Write meal plans. One of the best ways to make sure you’re getting enough nutrients and calories to lose weight. Having meal plans also helps you from easily falling back into bad eating habits. [25]
    • Plan three meals and two snacks every day. Vary the types of food at each meal. For example, have cup of yogurt with fresh berries, whole wheat toast, and coffee with skim milk for breakfast. Make a salad with different vegetables, grilled chicken, and some hummus for lunch. For dinner, have a family dinner of fish with a small salad and a side of steamed cauliflower. If you want dessert, have some fresh fruit or a sugar-free popsicle.
    • Include any dinners you may at restaurants on your plan. Either look at the restaurants online menu or call ahead to see what healthy choices they offer. Select a couple of different healthy options from the menu and put those on your plan. Make sure to stay away from buffets, breadbaskets, dishes in heavy sauces, and fried foods. Have an espresso instead of dessert unless it’s too close to your bedtime.[26]

Part 5
Getting Regular Physical Activity

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    Exercise regularly. Combing physical activity with coffee and a healthy diet can help you lose weight sensibly. You should lose no more than 1-2 pounds per week. Doing some type of activity 5-6 days a week can help you more quickly attain your weight loss goals.[27]
    • Aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity every week. As a rule of thumb you should try and do at least 30 minutes every day to lose weight. If you can’t do 30 minutes of activity at one time, break it up into manageable sections. For example, you could do 2 workouts of 15 minutes each.
    • Choose activities you enjoy such as walking, jogging, swimming, or biking. Remember that team sports or other activities such as jumping on a trampoline or jumping rope count towards your weekly exercise.
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    Do strength-training. Having muscles speeds up the metabolism and can help you torch calories. Adding some simple strength training exercises to your daily activity can help you lose weight more quickly. There is no specific guideline for how long you should strength train, but you should aim to do it at least two days.[28]
    • Consider consulting a certified trainer before you start. This person can help you figure out the best strength-training moves for your needs and abilities.
    • Do exercises that engage your entire body. For example, strengthening exercises such as squats and lunges work on your legs, core, and also your upper body.[29] Try resistance bands if weights seem too heavy.
    • Practicing regular yoga or Pilates is another way to engage your body’s strength. You can do a yoga or Pilates class by DVD, online, or go to a studio.
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    Let your body rest. Just like diet and exercise, rest is an important to your health. Not getting enough rest can actually cause you to gain weight, too, because your body is more stressed. Getting less than seven hours of sleep per night can reduce and undo any benefits of your other healthy habits.[30]
    • Give yourself at least one fully day of rest from exercise per week. This helps your body build muscles and recover from exercise or stress. You might want to pair this with your “cheat day” of eating.
    • Sleep at least 7 hours every night and aim for 8-9. Take a 30 minute power nap during the day if you feel tired.[31]


  • Pair your coffee consumption with a balanced, healthy diet and regular exercise for the best results. Attempting to rely on one method for weight loss may keep you from meeting weight loss goals or even harm your health.

Things You'll Need

  • Coffee
  • Skim milk
  • Sugar substitute

Sources and Citations

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Article Info

Categories: Coffee | Losing Weight