Friday, June 4, 2010

To caffeinate or not to caffeinate? A librarianing investigation

On my first week of Tony Ferguson, I stuck to the diet pretty strictly. Apart from a couple of days where I had four cups, I stuck to the maximum of three cups of tea a day (preferring that to one cup of coffee or five cups of green tea), and just barely managed to survive without coffee.

This week, however, when I went to the chemist to weigh in I asked the TF consultant why caffeine was restricted on the diet. She answered in a less-than-convincing way that it is because caffeine decreases your metabolism. She explained this with hand movements that swirled around her stomach region and there were a lot of "ums" punctuating the explanation, so I was left unconvinced. She was also about 12. I immediately went out and bought a small skinny cappuccino.

That was Monday, and I have now had a coffee every day bar Thursday this week. Which, coincidentally, is the only day I haven't had a TF "munch" bar for lunch, which, while filling(ish), is very dry. So this, on the left, is what my in-a-rush lunch is. And I have already had my three cups of tea for the day.

So obviously I don't believe this whole thing about caffeine slowing down your metabolism. I've done what every good librarian does first and Googled, read some stuff on Wikipedia, did some database searching (yay for working in an academic library!), and have pretty much ascertained that caffeine increases (not decreases) your metabolism, at least in the short term, but has little or no effect on weight loss. A lot of weight loss pills include caffeine but there's no conclusive evidence that it makes any difference whatsoever. Also, there are a lot of idiots on the teh interwebs.

Most of the stuff on the web is hearsay and companies spruiking their own wares - apparently on the Atkins diet (another ketosis-based weight loss program, but they get BACON! Jealous!) they say you shouldn't drink coffee - you should get your caffeine from their own product instead - from a discussion list:
Atkins prefers people get their caffeine from ATKINS ACCEL rather than from coffee...I think the rea$on$ $peak for themselve$.

I'd be interested to hear other's opinions too - and if you can find any hard research that shows whether caffeine has any actual effect on metabolism, dieting, etc, let me know. Everything I found on WoK and ScienceDirect was WAY over my head.


  1. Totally. Unheard of, I know.

  2. Surely it's because most people drink their coffee with milk and/or sugar and thus slurp up extra energy without thinking? Nothing to do with caffeine at all???

  3. Don't know about metabolism - but there's lots of evidence that caffeine can decrease insulin sensitivity and cause insulin resistance, which would mean that you couldn't metabolise glucose or lipids as effectively...

    (Note: this doesn't necessarily preclude your TF consultant being an idiot!)

  4. don't drink coffee but can't live without tea!

  5. i always drink *more* coffee when i'm trying to lose weight. it makes me feel full and so i want to eat less. it's probably against the Fundamental Laws of Nutrition, but i tend to pour down the coffee in aide of eating less, and it works for me.

  6. Jenny - Right so it increases blood sugar levels - I found that out easily enough - but what does that have to do with metabolism, dieting, and losing weight?

  7. Maybe because there's lots of sugar in your bloodstream your body won't think it needs to use the energy from fat cells?