Green Coffee Bean Extract – What’s Our Take On it?

Similar to an exercise and diet plan, buying the right fat loss supplement is not easy either. One such fat-burner that’s been making headlines in recent months is green coffee bean extract. But does it really work?

Apparently, green coffee bean extract causes fat breakdown. Scientific evidence in support, however, is very flimsy, to say the least. Read on to find out more!

Green coffee beansWe live in a day and age where looking good matters – there is no denying that. Whether in a professional capacity, your personal life or any other sphere of life, if you look good, chances are you will be more successful. No wonder then that the media and fashion industry seems to focus more on good-looking folks.

And let’s face it; everyone out there wants to look and feel good. If you said, I’m comfortable the way I am, you’d be lying. All men would die to have a ripped body with a washboard tummy and all women, a bikini body. Not many, however, are successful in achieving that dream body – reason? Well, we don’t put in much effort on the physical activity front. Unhealthy eating habits and of course, wrong choice of dietary supplements compound the problem!

Not dissimilar to planning a diet and exercise routine that will get your there, buying the right fat loss supplement is not easy either. You need to be sure about the ingredients you are looking for and if they really work. Given the kind of promotions and marketing campaigns that most supplement companies indulge in, it’s no wonder that all fat loss products look like they will work magic. And, you’d be losing pounds of fat every week! However, that’s rarely true; not all of these so-called fat burners are worth spending your money – hard earned or otherwise!

Here, we have a look at one such fat-burner that has been making headlines in recent months – green coffee bean extract.

We investigate closely if it lives up to the hype. And, whether it qualifies as a trustworthy friend or is just a foe looking to run your pocket dry.

What is Green Goffee Bean Extract and How Does It Work?

As the name suggests, green coffee bean extract (GCBE) is derived from coffee beans. However, it differs from normal coffee in a very significant way.

As you may well be aware, production of coffee involves roasting of coffee beans. This roasting turns coffee beans brown and imparts that typical aroma to coffee. Production of GCBE, on the other hand, doesn’t involve any roasting. Coffee beans are instead soaked and pressed to yield a thick extract. Since there is no roasting involved, the green colour of the beans is preserved during this process. The yield of this process is therefore known as green coffee bean extract.

There are ups and downs to the process of roasting – while roasting adds antioxidants to coffee, it does destroy a very important ingredient – chlorogenic acid. Therefore, as you may have guessed, GCBE will be low on antioxidants but rich in chlorogenic acid – coffee on the other hand will be teeming with antioxidants but low on chlorogenic acid. Typically, green coffee bean extract supplements will contain not less than 45% of chlorogenic acid.

It is this chlorogenic acid which has been making waves in the fat-loss market. So what makes chlorogenic acid important?

Well, according to researchers, it is this ingredient that is responsible for the fat-burning actions of GCBE. Chlorogenic acid allegedly causes:

  1. Fat-loss by causing lipolysis (breakdown of fat) – especially in the liver (Shimoda, Seki, & Aitani, 2006)
  2. Blocks fat and carbohydrate absorption from the stomach and intestines, effectively halting the absorption of excess calories and their conversion into body fat
  3. Keeps blood sugar and insulin levels within a normal range. And, as we know, avoiding insulin spikes will prevent deposition of body fat

As far as the taste of green coffee bean extract goes, it may vary drastically depending on the source of origin of the beans, the method of preparation and such. You may get a bland, sweet, bitter or ‘as bitter as coffee’ taste.

In the aroma department, needless to say, GCBE doesn’t match up to coffee!

In short, green coffee bean extract:

  • Causes breakdown of fat
  • Blocks fat and carbohydrate absorption form the stomach and intestine
  • Reduces blood sugar levels and insulin spikes

Some other health benefits of green coffee bean extract
Apart from apparent fat loss abilities, green coffee bean extract seems to afford other benefits for human health as well. Some of these are:

  1. Normalization of blood pressure; research tends to disagree with this (Vinson, Burnham, & Nagendran, 2012)
  2. Reduces the risk of metabolic diseases (obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease (Heckman, Weil, & Gonzalez de, 2010). However, caffeine is credited with these actions rather than chlorogenic acid or GCBE.
  3. Diabetes prevention: regular consumption of coffee (not GCBE in particular) seems to normalize blood sugar levels. Also, weight-loss induced by coffee helps in type 2 diabetes (Greenberg, Boozer, & Geliebter, 2006).

Thus, green coffee bean extract:

  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Reduces risk of metabolic disease
  • Prevents development of diabetes

Adverse Effects Profile of Green Coffee Bean Extract

Although, the effective daily dose of GCBE to cause fat loss is 400mg, three times a day, this has not been standardized. Other products recommend as much as 800mg of the extract per serving.

Also of concern is the fact that except for dosage and chlorogenic acid content, there will typically be very little info given out on the label by manufacturers. So it is safe to consume? Most promoters including Dr Oz believes that GCBE is free of adverse-effects. However, scientific evidence seems to point in the other direction.

Standard protocol for safety should apply for GCBE as well – not to be used in those pregnant or breastfeeding, suffering from cardiovascular disease or a known medical condition. It cannot be stressed enough that seeking your physician help, if in doubt, is the best strategy.

So, Does Green Coffee Bean Extract Really Work?

Green coffee bean extract has been endorsed by well known personalities including Dr Oz. But is green coffee bean extract really worth it? Let’s dig up a little scientific evidence to see if does.

Generally, scientific evidence in support of GCBE seems to be inconclusive. Much of the so-called supporting research comes from animal or in-vitro (outside the body) tissue studies. To date, very few human studies have conclusively proven that green coffee bean extract does live up to its promise.

Quite interesting to note that the study that Dr Oz uses to support GCBE comes up short on many counts. Although the study (which was published in Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity in 2012) concluded that GCBE caused a ‘statistically significant reduction in weight, % body fat and BMI (body fat index) after consuming GCBE for two-thirds of the 22-week crossover study’(Vinson et al., 2012), the authors themselves were quick to acknowledge that there were some serious limitations to the way the study was conducted – ‘limitations included small sample size of the study’ (Vinson et al., 2012). The sample size for the study was too small – 8 males and 8 females participated in the study. Therefore it can be argued that the results cannot be applied to the general population as a whole.

Another study worth mentioning is the one that found that GCBE is ‘possibly’ effective against weight-gain and fat accumulation by inhibition of fat absorption and activation of fat metabolism’. Not unlike the study referred to earlier, this study – published way back in 2006 has some serious limitations as well. First off, it is an animal study – subjects used were olive-fed mice (Shimoda et al., 2006). There is no way to tell that GCBE may deliver similar results in humans.

Also, whereas there is enough evidence for the fat burning abilities of caffeine, there seems to be very little proof that chlorogenic acid or indeed GCBE works. Therefore, it can be argued that whatever weight-loss that researchers have observed in previously mentioned studies may be due to the presence of caffeine (10%) in the extract and not due to chlorogenic acid. At the very least, chlorogenic acid may enhance the action of caffeine to cause fat loss.

Yet, most GCBE containing fat loss supplements will focus on chlorogenic acid content (typically, it is advised that the product should contain 45% chlorogenic acid); there won’t be any mention of caffeine content – or there might a ‘small print’ footnote!

Green Coffee Bean Extract – The Verdict

To conclude, very little evidence exists for the fat burning abilities of green coffee bean extract. The studies supporting the alleged thermogenic action of GCBE are either animal studies or have serious shortcomings to be of any real consequence. If at all, green coffee bean extract – mainly chlorogenic acid – may have a supportive role to play in the fat breakdown induced by caffeine. Moreover, no one’s quite sure how green coffee bean extract causes fat loss. No studies to date have been able to figure out the mechanisms responsible for the alleged fat-loss properties of green coffee bean extract.

Thus, as of now, there isn’t evidence to prove that green coffee bean extract does cause fat loss!

Useful References:

  • Greenberg, J. A., Boozer, C. N., & Geliebter, A. (2006). Coffee, diabetes, and weight control. Am J Clin Nutr., 84, 682-693. Online Resource
  • Heckman, M. A., Weil, J., & Gonzalez de, M. E. (2010). Caffeine (1, 3, 7-trimethylxanthine) in foods: a comprehensive review on consumption, functionality, safety, and regulatory matters. J Food Sci., 75, R77-R87. Online Resource
  • Shimoda, H., Seki, E., & Aitani, M. (2006). Inhibitory effect of green coffee bean extract on fat accumulation and body weight gain in mice. BMC Complement Altern.Med, 6, 9. Online Resource
  • Vinson, J. A., Burnham, B. R., & Nagendran, M. V. (2012). Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, linear dose, crossover study to evaluate the efficacy and safety of a green coffee bean extract in overweight subjects. Diabetes Metab Syndr.Obes, 5, 21-27. Online Resource

Disclaimer: Our reviews and investigations are based on extensive research from the information publicly available to us and consumers at the time of first publishing the post. Information is based on our personal opinion and whilst we endeavour to ensure information is up-to-date, manufacturers do from time to time change their products and future research may disagree with our findings. If you feel any of the information is inaccurate, please contact us and we will review the information provided.

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