Researchers at the University of Nottingham found during a recent study that drinking coffee could help the body burn fat faster. The study results suggested a link between coffee and the activation of brown fat, or brown adipose tissue. The details of the study has been published in Scientific Reports.
There are two types of fat cells in the body – brown fat and white fat – which each play different roles in metabolisms. The more commonly known white fat serves to store excess calories to release as energy as needed, while brown fat, when activated, produces 300 times more heat than any other organ in the body. When the body produces heat, it uses energy, thus burning calories and reducing white fat.
In the past, brown fat was thought to exist only in hibernating mammals and babies. Now, researchers have found that adults also have brown fat in their bodies, generally between 50 and 100 grams. People with a lower body mass index have more brown fat than people with a higher body mass index.
In a second phase of the study, the researchers tested human volunteers by looking at brown fat activity in the neck within one hour after drinking a serving of Nescafe Original coffee containing about 65 mg of caffeine. Using thermal imaging, the scientists saw that the brown fat got hotter after having a drink of coffee, meaning it was burning more calories. The control, caffeine dissolved in water, appeared to have no impact on brown fat activity.
Michael Symonds, a professor at the University of Nottingham and co-director of the study, said, “This is the first study in humans to show that something like a cup of coffee can have a direct effect on our brown fat functions.” The researchers are uncertain if it’s the caffeine in coffee or another ingredient that’s responsible for the increased brown fat activity. Symonds said, “Once we have confirmed which component is responsible for this, it could potentially be used as part of a weight management regime or as part of glucose regulation program to help prevent diabetes.”