The world runs on coffee. We drink it in the morning for a quick energy boost, and often throughout the day as we work, socialize, and relax. It’s a miracle substance that helps us stay alert and focused, even when we’re overworked and underslept. It’s the top agricultural export for a number of countries, and over 500 billion cups of the stuff is consumed each year.

But did you know that it might just be able to help you lose weight, as well?

Coffee is more than just flavored water—keep in mind that this is a drink derived from the berries of the Coffea plant, which is full of nutrients and compounds that make it into your cup! These compounds affect everything from your neurotransmitters to your hormone levels to your metabolism, and if you drink your coffee just right, can help speed you toward your weight loss goals.

Let’s take a look at the weight-loss benefits of coffee, and how you can take advantage of these properties to start the process of slimming down.

Coffee Primes the Body For Weight Loss

Numerous studies show that drinking caffeinated coffee can help you not only lose weight, but keep it off, as well. This is because coffee suppresses the source of all weight gain—the desire to eat!

According to Mayo Clinic nutritionist, Katherine Zeratsky, caffeine suppresses hunger, but the effects don’t last long. This means that a small cup of joe is the perfect antidote to those sudden cravings for snack foods and high-calorie meals. Used strategically, coffee can help you through a low-calorie diet by keeping those hunger pangs at bay at key moments.

Coffee can also give you an energy boost while dieting, helping you to feel energized rather than tired. Cutting calories can make us feel lethargic and unhappy—coffee helps offset this by stimulating the brain to produce pleasure-causing chemicals.

And did you know that one serving of a caffeinated drink can raise your metabolism by as much as 8 percent, which equates to burning, approximately, an extra 174 calories per day? One study shows just this.

Your metabolism is simply the overall chemical processes which occur within your body. Here, we’re talking about how many calories your body expends on a daily basis. When you safely speed up your metabolism through external means—with coffee, in this case—you increase those outgoing calories.

Adding coffee to your day, as part of a healthy, low-calorie diet, can make losing weight so much easier, so take advantage of the power of this dark liquid!

Coffee Helps You Exercise

The benefits of coffee extend beyond diet and into your exercise routine!

According to Maik Wiedenbach, owner of New York’s Adlertraining, coffee “is a powerful anti-oxidant, which is important for your recover from exercise and overall immune health. Also, coffee mobilizes free fatty acids, which can then be oxidized during exercises.” So, not only does coffee help you keep going during a long stay at the gym, but it helps you recover faster afterward. That’s a win-win.

Drinking about the equivalent of a medium Americano before working out also stimulates thermogenesis—the body’s way of making heat and energy from digested food. This can cause you to burn a few extra calories as you exercise.

Aerobic exercise is the best way to begin dropping pounds, so use that caffeinated energy to jog, climb, or swim your way to fitness. This is where coffee really shines—exercises that require endurance will benefit most from caffeine’s energy boosting power.

So, with coffee giving you an edge in the gym or on the track, why not add it to your diet?

Bringing it All Together Through Diet

Now that you know the benefits of coffee, let’s look at how you can integrate it into your weight-loss plan!

For the best results, you want a sustainable, long-term diet plan that uses coffee to curb cravings, boost exercise benefits, and enhance metabolism.

This is more of a lifestyle than a diet, and involves cutting down calories just enough so that you consistently lose weight over a long period of time. To do this, downsize your portions until you’re eating 300-500 fewer calories per day than what you need. Most people need around 2,000 calories a day to maintain their current weight, but your exact threshold may vary, so don’t be afraid to experiment!

What your diet is composed of is also vital—you’re going to need lots of protein and fiber to help you feel full and build lean muscle. You’re also going to need the nutrients of leafy, green vegetables, so try steaming some broccoli and kale, for example.

Integrate coffee into this diet by having a cup between breakfast and lunch, and between lunch and dinner, to stave off hunger and to keep you feeling great. Because your calories aren’t drastically cut in this kind of diet, you shouldn’t feel tired or worn out, but if you do, a quick cup twice a day will leave you feeling refreshed and energized.

To accelerate your weight loss, hit the gym three days a week—go on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, for example. Have a cup of joe before your workout, and you’ll feel better and be more motivated to keep going.

Whatever you do, though, avoid adding high-calorie sweeteners and creamers to your coffee—you’ll undo all your hard work. Instead, why not add skim milk and use a calorie-free sweetener? Or, if you’re feeling particularly hardcore, just take your coffee black—there won’t be any pesky calories to deal with at all!

Drink to Your Health

Coffee is a wonderful supplement to a healthy diet, and is capable of helping you stay on the right track in your weight-loss plans. Don’t forget, though, that it’s only one part—you need to also focus on eating well from each of the food groups, on getting enough exercise, and on maintaining wellness through adequate sleep.

Combine all of these building blocks with a couple of tasty coffees per day, and you have a recipe for sustained weight loss that won’t leave you feeling down.

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