The Richmond Register

February 17, 2013

Does coffee affect appetite?

Dr. Jack on Health and Fitness

By Dr. Jack Rutherford
Register Columnist

RICHMOND — Many people use coffee to wake up, feel more alert and get more energy.

Competitive athletes also use caffeine as an ergogenic aid to spare muscle glycogen and delay fatigue during endurance events such as marathons. Since coffee is known to suppress appetite, weight watchers also use it to drop some pounds.

According to recent research, however, if weight loss is your goal, you’re probably better off sticking to decaf than caffeinated coffee to control your appetite.

Coffee is a complex mixture of chemicals. It’s the world’s most widely used stimulant drug, primarily because of the caffeine. Health experts agree that a little caffeine can improve your health, while a lot can harm it.

Coffee’s complex mixture makes it difficult to assess and predict the effects on hunger and appetite. The theory, though, is that coffee’s active ingredients act on the brain to make people feel full or satisfied. But in fact, most studies to date have produced mixed results.

Some of the more recent studies have found that decaffeinated coffee showed significantly lower hunger levels than caffeinated coffee or other caffeinated beverages.

Researchers speculate that certain chemicals in decaf (it could be chlorogenic acid or other satiety hormones) become elevated, resulting in decreased feelings of hunger.

The picture is not entirely clear yet and research is ongoing. Regardless, it provides some interesting data that may lead to practical applications for coffee drinkers.

Coffee is an interesting study. Coffee is full of antioxidants, yet not everyone responds to it equally well. However, if you’re relying on caffeine to suppress your appetite, it’s perhaps time to consider another strategy.

Switching out your high-test for decaf may help your body tune in to the feelings of satiety and switch off hunger. It’s at least worth a try.