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Does Caffeine Really Stimulate Fat Loss

Billions of people around the world drink coffee or tea to start the day. It’s a fine way to kick the proverbial engine into gear. The kick, of course, is largely due to the caffeine content in these beverages. Caffeine is a powerful stimulant and an appetite suppressant, but you probably already knew that.

Less commonly discussed, however, are the effects of caffeine on body composition. Sure, caffeine wakes you up in the morning, but can it burn fat? Does it help with weight loss? Indeed it can. Caffeine has been shown to stimulate fat loss, help with weight management, and enhance exercise. If you’re trying to optimize your body composition, caffeine should probably be in your arsenal.

But before we get to practical tips on incorporating caffeine into your routine, let’s talk about the mechanisms by which caffeine stimulates fat loss.

How Caffeine Burns Fat

First of all, what, exactly, does it mean to burn fat? Clearly someone isn’t holding your fat cells to a smoldering flame. That would get uncomfortable in a hurry. Instead, burning fat is synonymous with using fat for energy. And fat can only be used for energy when it’s floating around the bloodstream as a molecule called a free fatty acid.

Yet what most people think of when they hear the word “fat” is not the free fatty acid form of fat. No, they think of adipose tissue, or the fat cells that hold these fatty acids. To lose overall body fat, you have to tell the fat cells to release these fatty acids.

So how can you increase the release of fatty acids acids to be burned? One way is caffeine!

The caffeine in your morning coffee stimulates the breakdown of adipose tissue via a process called lipolysis. And once the fatty acids are freed from their storage form, they can be used for energy. In other words, this fat can be burned.

How does caffeine stimulate lipolysis? When you drink caffeine, it increases levels of energetic hormones like epinephrine and norepinephrine in your blood. These hormones, in turn, cause fatty acids to be released..

Caffeine Boosts Your Metabolism

Okay, so now you know that caffeine stimulates lipolysis. And we know that lipolysis causes fatty acids to be released into the blood. Now what?

Well, the fatty acids must be burned for energy. And the process of burning for energy is called metabolism. Depending on your diet, lifestyle, and genes, your metabolism can burn energy at a higher or lower rate.

What’s one compound that stimulates our metabolism to burn more energy? You guessed it again: caffeine.

This process of metabolic burn has a fancy scientific name: thermogenesis. Caffeine increases thermogenesis. In other words, it tells your body to burn more calories.

This stimulating effect on metabolism has, in fact, been shown through research to occur in humans. In this study, caffeine increased thermogenesis in a dose-dependent manner up to 400 mg, or about 2-3 cups of coffee. More on dosing later.

In a more recent study, caffeine boosted the metabolic rate of human cells by activating certain genes associated with metabolism. So even at the level of your genes, there’s clearly an effect of caffeine on energy expenditure.

What About Caffeine and Weight Loss?

By now you’re probably wondering how caffeine-induced thermogenesis and lipolysis translate into actual, measurable results in humans. These cellular processes sound cool, but do they actually stimulate quantifiable weight loss?

It appears they do. In one study, 76 overweight volunteers - a mix of high caffeine and low caffeine consumers - were put on a low-calorie diet for 4 weeks. Weight was a primary variable being measured.

The results? At the end of the four week period, higher weight loss was linked to higher caffeine intake in women. Not a bad benefit from drinking an extra cup of coffee or two.

But wait, there’s more. In a large observational study from 2016, people who drank more caffeine were also more likely to be successful at maintaining lost weight. So for those struggling to maintain losses from a diet or exercise program, caffeine could provide some helpful support.

A final note on caffeine and weight loss: the research is promising, but still correlational. In other words, there aren’t any proper controlled experiments showing caffeine alone makes people lose weight, but it does seem to have some weight loss benefit.

Caffeine Enhances Exercise

Most people know that exercise is a scientifically-validated way to burn fat, increase lean muscle, and improve body composition. Take all the supplements you want - you’re not going to look good naked by sitting on the couch all day.

Okay, so you’re aware that exercise is important. But to take it up a level and enhance the effects of that exercise, consider caffeine.

From a metabolic standpoint, combining caffeine with exercise is like putting premium fuel in a European sports car. It simply runs better than it does with regular unleaded in the tank.

For instance, having caffeine in your system during during intense aerobic exercise increases free fatty acid availability and more than doubles epinephrine levels. It also seems to enhance fat burning. Finally, in some individuals, caffeine spares muscle glycogen - probably useful for athletes trying to conserve energy during longer exercise sessions.

Caffeine is also ergogenic, meaning it improves exercise performance.

We just covered how combining exercise with caffeine puts your body into fat burning mode. Yet there are, in fact, other positive effects that spring from this combination.

First of all, even at low doses (around 1-2 cups of coffee), caffeine improves mood, cognitive function, and alertness both during and after exercise with very few side effects. So if you’re feeling sluggish during your workouts, caffeine may help.

What types of exercise does caffeine enhance? It runs the spectrum, but there are 3 main categories:

  • Endurance training - Several studies have shown promising results by adding caffeine to endurance exercise. In one randomized crossover trial, a small group of cyclists had significantly faster performance times when given caffeine than when given decaf coffee. Another study found that any dose of caffeine - low, medium, or high - enhanced endurance times by roughly the same amount.
  • Strength and Power - Caffeine also improves strength. In one study, caffeine significantly increased the maximum strength of muscle contraction in a group of resistance athletes. In another, it increased upper body strength in resistance-trained women.
  • High Intensity Efforts - Finally, caffeine improves muscular energy status during intense exercise. In some individuals, it also spares muscle glycogen.

The takeaway here is that caffeine appears to improve both fat burning and performance during exercise. It’s something that every athlete should consider including in their diet.

Caffeine Boosts Testosterone

Testosterone, the male sex hormone, is a good hormone to have around if your goals include losing fat and preserving lean muscle. In one study, people supplementing with testosterone got leaner and lost more fat than the control group.

But you don’t need testosterone patches to boost your levels of this crucial hormone. Instead, just have a cup of Joe.

Or, if you’re willing to try something more unconventional, chew some caffeinated gum. In a recent study, rugby players given caffeinated gum at halftime had, by the time the 15 minute half was up, 70% higher levels of salivary testosterone than their placebo-gum counterparts. That’s pretty significant.

How Much Caffeine Do You Need?

That depends on your goals. For exercise, the research shows that low doses (less than 200 mg caffeine - about a large cup of coffee) are just as effective as high doses for enhancing performance.

For fat burning goals, on the other hand, it appears that the metabolic response to caffeine increases in a dose-dependent manner. 400 mg is better than 200 mg is better than 100 mg.

And in case you were wondering, your typical 8oz cup of coffee has 100-150 mg of caffeine. For a lower dosage, a cup of green tea has about 25 mg of caffeine.

Side Effects of Caffeine

Okay, so more caffeine equates to more fat burning. Given that fact, should you slam down as much strong coffee as your stomach can hold?

Not so fast. Consuming high amounts of caffeine still has some undesirable side effects, including:

  • Insomnia
  • Gastrointestinal distress
  • Nervousness
  • Confusion
  • Trouble focusing

Potential issues with blood pressure in hypertensive individuals

In other words, be smart about caffeine. Listen to your body. If you’re experiencing anything unusual, back off the dose.

Caffeine Takeaways

Okay, that was a lot of information. To recap, here’s a list of what caffeine has been shown to:

  • Stimulate lipolysis, freeing up fatty acids to be burned for energy
  • Increases your metabolic rate, or the rate at which your burn fuel for  energy
  • Has been shown to help with weight management, and it may also help with weight loss
  • Helps promote fat burning during exercise via its metabolic sti  
  • Improves mood and alertness during exercise
  • Increases testosterone during exercise
  • High doses can have unwanted side effects such as insomnia or stomach issues

How many people around the world consume caffeinated beverages every morning without being aware of these benefits?

Impossible to say. Probably most of them. But now you’re aware of the benefits. So if you’re looking to lose some fat, improve your weight loss goals, and maybe even enhance today’s gym session, don’t forget your cup of green tea or coffee tomorrow morning.


Baytown Student Highlight: Geo Preciado

What is your name and age?

Geo Preciado. 27 years old

When did you join Elite MMA?

February 18, 2016

Why did you decide to start taking martial arts?

It was something I have always been interested in doing.

In the past what had caused you not to take martial arts?

I was dedicated to playing soccer and a lack of knowledge inside of joining martial arts.

Is this your first time taking martial arts and what classes do you take?

I take kickboxing and jiu jitsu at the Baytown location.  When I was younger I did karate for a little while but lost interest quickly. I also have done some boxing.

If you had any concerns about joining Elite MMA, what helped you with your decision?

The hospitality and how welcomed Elite MMA makes you feel.

Since you have been part of Elite, please share what you have been able to accomplish?

I have accomplished getting my blue belt and recently received my second stripe on it as well. I have watched multiple people grow inside of their martial arts. I have also got my nephew involved in jiu jitsu at the Baytown location and he has achieved a rank of Grey and White in the kids class.

Anything else you want to share with someone who is looking to get involved with martial arts or looking to change their current lifestyle?

The great thing about martial arts is the longer you train, the more you will slowly leave your old life style and indulge yourself in a healthier one



Greenway Student Highlight - Albert Martinez

What is your name and age?

My name is Albert Martinez and I am 35 years old.

When did you join Elite MMA?

I started to training kickboxing at Elite MMA Greenway/Westheimer in June 2017.

Why did you decide to start taking martial arts?

A year ago, I moved from Dallas to Houston starting a new role in my job. With a new schedule, routine, and city I decided that it would be nice to learn a new sport. Working as a TV meteorologist means that you have to be in shape most of the time. HD TV is sometimes our greatest enemies. Taking kickboxing classes helps me to do cardio in a different way and during the lesson I can focus on something else for a few hours.

In the past what had caused you not to take martial arts?

I believe that 10 years ago in Spain kickboxing/martial arts wasn’t as popular as now so not a lot of people used to practice it. When I was living in Dallas I had it in my head a few times, but I never took the step until I moved to Houston. After the first class I have been hooked.

Is this your first time taking martial arts and what classes do you take?

Yes. It’s the first time that I take regular personal kickboxing classes. I train twice per week.

If you had any concerns about joining Elite MMA, what helped you with your decision?

José Aguilar. Coach José was the heaviest reason I joined Elite MMA. I need to say that I didn’t have big concerns before joining Elite MMA. I first met José when I asked for more information. In just 45 minutes he was able to catch my interest, see what I am capable of doing, and how great it would be to train with him. On the other side, being a Chief Meteorologist means that I have to be on call anytime the weather is severe in the US and the flexibility that they offered me to schedule my training classes made it impossible to say no... don’t hesitate to start following me and keep your weather updated, find me as @Alberteltiempo on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Since you have been part of Elite, please share what you have been able to accomplish?

Apart from making a good friend, in half of a year I get my 4th rank in kickboxing: white/brown. I am proud of what I have accomplished during the months of training: more power, flexibility, agility and better mind-muscle coordination. It also helps me to reduce the stress and anger, relieving myself punching the bag or fighting with the coach and I know how to defend myself.

Anything else you want to share with someone who is looking to get involved with martial arts or looking to change their current lifestyle?

I would like to recommend martial arts/kickboxing to everyone. You could not imagine the amount of benefits that you gain. You can decide to go to with a group or have a personal trainer that will became your master. After starting at Elite MMA you will feel welcomed by the coaches and other students. If you go with personal training, like I do, I am sure that he/she will push you to new limits and take you to the next level. They will always listen to you and they will adjust the training to fit you. You can have a hard day at work, home, or be stuck in a traffic jam for hours but as soon as you start to train you will put this as the center of your life.

So, what are you waiting for? Stop reading and schedule an appointment now!



Westheimer Instructor Highlight: Jake Plaisance

Birth place: Cairns, Australia     

Profession: Assistant Instructor

What classes do you teach: Kids BJJ

What martial art(s) have trained in: Brazilian jiujitsu 

Number of years of training martial arts: 8 years

When did you start teaching at Elite MMA? March, 2018

What is a memorable moment for you at Elite MMA? Receiving my purple belt in 2014 and being able to share my weight-loss story with my training partners and teammates.

Do you have any martial arts accomplishments that you are proud of and why? I have a few medals from various tournaments around Texas, but I am more proud of the lifestyle I try to live for jiujitsu and being on the mats every day I can.

Are there any professional accomplishments that you are proud of and why? Receiving my B.S. in Environmental Studies from Texas A&M in December, 2016.

Any sports/activities that you participated in that you are proud of? I played football in jr high and high school and switched over to BJJ after numerous shoulder surgeries.

What hobbies do you enjoy and why? I love gaming and BJJ, as well as hiking and camping.

Any memorable family moments that you would like to share? Growing up in West Papua, Indonesia was an amazing experience and shaped who I am today.

Academic accomplishments: B.S. in Environmental Studies from Texas A&M University

If you could walk us through a day or week in your life what would it consist of? Wake up every day looking forward to being on the mat and finding time to be outdoors or game.


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