Women who drink two to four cups of coffee a day may have lower total body fat. That is according to a new study that found regular consumption of the beverage could help both young and adult women manage their fat percentage.
The findings, published in the Journal of Nutrition, come from the analysis of data on body fat percentage and coffee consumption from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The program involves nearly 5,000 people in the U.S.
Researchers found that drinking two or three cups of coffee daily helped women, aged 20 to 44, cut body fat 3.4 percent lower than those who drank fewer cups or none at all. Those who were aged 45 to 69 and regularly consumed four or more cups had 4.1 percent lower body fat percentage.
However, the team noted they did not determine how the effects of coffee directly helped reduce body fat. But some bioactive compounds commonly found in the drink previously showed positive effects on fat.
In earlier studies, polyphenols appeared preventing weight gain and increasing metabolism in mice. Coffee drinking has also been associated with changes in fat accumulation and increased metabolic rate, Chao Cao, co-author of the latest study from Washington University’s School of Medicine, told Bicycling Magazine.
But he noted men may not get the same benefits of coffee that women experienced in their study. The bioactive compounds in the drink stimulated hormone production in men and women differently, which affect fat metabolism and utilization of fat for energy.
“This is a potential mechanism to explain this gender difference,” Cao said. “In addition, our results did find higher coffee consumption was linked to lower body fat percentage among some male groups, but it wasn’t as prominent as it was in women.”
However, the researcher noted it is too early to consider coffee as a weight loss aid or as a meal replacement. More studies are required to fully understand how the higher consumption of the beverage causes changes in the body, especially in fats.
“We don’t want someone to drink tons of coffee in one day as a way to lose body fat,” Cao said. “This should be part of a healthy lifestyle—including physical activity, less sitting and more healthy foods.”