Do you like your coffee? Of course you do if you’re a cyclist! Maybe that has something to do with the results of a recent study that shows drinking coffee daily is associated with lower amounts of body fat. Let’s take a closer look.

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Researchers from Anglia Ruskin University analysed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to evaluate the relationship between coffee drinking and total body fat percentage and abdominal fat.

Coffee is associated with up to 4,1 % less body fat

The researchers found notable differences between women who drink coffee and those who don’t. Women between the ages of 20 and 44 who drank 2-3 coffees a day had 3,4 % lower levels of adiposity than those who didn’t drink coffee at all. The difference was even greater in the age-group 45-69 where women had 4,1 % lower adiposity. Overall, in women of all ages the average total body fat percentage was 2,8 % lower among those who drank 2-3 cups a day compared to those who drank none.

It’s not about the caffeine

Interestingly, these results were consistent for both caffeinated and decaf coffee. Could it be that most coffee drinkers are cyclists and the lost weight has to do with cycling? The senior author of the study, Dr Lee Smith, had a different explanation.

“Our research suggests that there may be bioactive compounds in coffee other than caffeine that regulate weight.”

The relationship is weaker for men

The study also found that the relationship was consistent among both smokers and non-smokers and those suffering from chronic diseases when compared to those in good health. It also found the relationship in men was just a lot weaker. Men between 20 and 44 who drank 2-3 coffees a day had 1,3 % less total fat and 1,8 % less trunk fat than those who did not consume coffee at all.

“It is important to interpret the findings of this study in light of its limitations – the study was at a specific point in time so trends cannot be established. However, we don’t believe that someone’s weight is likely to influence their coffee consumption,” said Dr Smith.

Coffee might be used in the fight against obesity

Even with its limitations, this study provides a reason to consider coffee drinking as a tool in fighting the obesity epidemic. The author summed it up this way: “It could be that coffee, or its effective ingredients, could be integrated into a healthy diet strategy to reduce the burden of chronic conditions related to the obesity epidemic.”

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