Could Caffeine Help Protect Against Holiday Diet Pitfalls?

With a week left before the New Year, many will be concerned over all the indulgent food and festivities that typically accompany the holiday. And with that, of course, will come a resolution to be healthier—and probably shed a few pounds—in the new year.  

For those who might be looking to take that first step in a healthier direction, a new study suggests it could be easier than you think.  In fact, it could be as easy as drinking a cup of coffee.

Actually, the study says that four cups of coffee—per day—over the winter holiday season could prevent fat absorption—by as much as 22 percent—and cut weight gain—by as much as 16 percent.

Now, it is important to note that the study involved laboratory rats, who were fed a “moderate” carbohydrate diet of 40 to 45 percent carbs and 15 percent protein over a four week period. The test subjects were given mate tea, an herbal beverage known to be rich in phytochemicals, flavonoids, and essential amino acids. It is a stimulant common to southeastern Latin America. 

Mate tea has a caffeine content between 65 and 130 mg (per cup).  Keep in ind that the average cup of [brewed] coffee has a range of 30 to 300 mg of caffeine. 

That in mind, the lab rats were administered both synthetic caffeine and caffeine that has been extracted from coffee.  Regardless of the source, the researchers found that the caffeine managed to lower lipid accumulation (in fat cells) by 20 to 41 percent.  

Study co-author Elvira Gonzalez de Mejia explains, “Considering the findings, mate tea and caffeine can be considered anti-obesity agents. The results of this research could be scaled to humans to understand the roles of mate tea and caffeine as potential strategies to prevent overweight and obesity, as well as the subsequent metabolic disorders associated with these conditions.”

The University of Illinois Food Sciences and Human Nutrition professor concludes, “The consumption of caffeine from mate or from other sources alleviated the negative impact of a high-fat, high-sucrose diet on body composition due to the modulation of certain lipogenic enzymes in both adipose tissue and the liver.”