Does Green Coffee Bean Extract Really Burn Fat?

Weight loss miracle or just another fad?

green coffee beansThis article originally appeared on Live in the Now.

Many of us are skeptical when we hear of a product that claims to facilitate weight loss without the need to change our diets or exercise levels. But proponents of the newly popular green coffee bean extract say that their claims are backed up by scientific studies that prove that the product isn’t just another weight loss fad.

The Hype About Green Coffee Bean Extract

After being featured on an episode of The Dr. Oz Show in September 2012, green coffee bean extract experienced a huge surge in popularity among consumers eager to put this “miracle” product to the test. Dr. Oz even conducted his own “study” consisting of 100 female volunteers, which found that those women taking 400 milligrams of the extract for two weeks lost an average of two pounds, versus a loss of one pound among those given the placebo.

What Are Green Coffee Beans?

Green coffee beans are beans that are raw, or unroasted. The beans contain chlorogenic acid, a chemical believed to engender weight loss. Because the amount of chlorogenic acid is reduced when coffee beans are roasted, supporters argue that unroasted “green” coffee beans slow the release of glucose into the body after a meal, ultimately aiding in weight loss. The extract is converted into a supplement, and sold to consumers at food and health stores for about $20-$30 for a month’s supply.

Does It Really Work?

One study in particular is repeatedly cited by companies touting the purchase of their green coffee bean extract, the results of which were published in the journal Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity. The study, which consisted of eight men and eight women receiving high doses, low doses and placebos, each for six weeks at a time, stated in its findings that the participants lost an average of about 17 pounds after 22 weeks.

As with the Dr. Oz study, the validity of the results is difficult to authenticate. It all sounds encouraging, but there are a few red flags:

Obesity and nutrition experts have expressed concern over the validity of the study’s results, citing the unusually low number of participants, as well as problems with the design of the study.

Participants reportedly lost weight while taking the placebo, suggesting that the green coffee bean extract may not have been the reason for their weight loss. However, participants taking the placebo still lost less weight than the high dose and low dose study participants, which could suggest that green coffee bean extract simply enhances weight-loss efforts.

There is some speculation about the credibility of the study’s lead author, Dr. Joe Vinson of the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, who was reportedly paid by the green coffee bean extract manufacturer Applied Food Sciences, Inc. to conduct the study in India.

The Verdict

Despite our desire to find the miracle drug that allows us to eat whatever we want and skip the gym, it looks doubtful that green coffee bean extract is that magical antidote. If you want to find out for yourself, you can purchase the product at food and health stores, but watch your intake level — excessive amounts of caffeine can result in insomnia, nervousness, gastrointestinal problems, heart rate increase and other health issues.

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