It was once thought that caffeine had a negative impact on fat loss.
There was a commonly held belief that it could be downright catabolic – another word for muscle wasting – and researchers wondered if the substance inhibited the oxidation of fatty acids (which tells us whether we’re burning fat or storing it) and therefore encouraged weight gain.
Why Does Caffeine Burns Fat?
Caffeine causes the release of fatty acids from body fat stores. The caffeine binds to adenosine receptors in your brain, stimulating lipolysis (the breakdown of fats). This action can substantially increase fat oxidation during exercise and an accelerated metabolic rate.
How Much Caffeine Should I Consume for Weight Loss?
People looking for extreme fat-burning effects should take 200mg – 400mg of caffeine daily, while people who want to burn a few extra calories should consume 100mg – 200mg daily. This equals about 2 cups of black coffee or 4-8 capsules.
Types of Caffeine Supplements and Their Effectiveness
There are many caffeine supplements on the market today. However, most can be broken down into three major categories: pure caffeine, anhydrous, natural caffeine sources, and synthetic sources.
Pure Caffeine Anhydrous
Pure caffeine anhydrous is 100% caffeine in its purest form. If you go with a supplement containing only one source of caffeine, this is probably your best choice. Studies have shown that consuming a pill or powder (dissolved in water) consisting of only one substance yields the most significant effect (compared to a pill/powder with multiple contents).
Natural caffeine sources consist of ingredients that naturally contain caffeine. In my opinion, this type of supplement is the least effective. Many claims that natural sources are gentler on your stomach, thus allowing you to ingest more before feeling sick.
This might be true if the product only contained natural caffeine sources. However, most products containing natural caffeine also contain synthetic caffeine.
Synthetic forms of caffeine are created in a lab. They include popular supplements such as 1,3 DMAA, DMBA, AMP Citrate, and many others.
The main benefit of synthetic caffeine is that it absorbs into your body much faster. This means the effect will hit you much harder than natural caffeine products.
The downside to synthetic stimulants is that they are harsher on your stomach than natural sources. When consuming these supplements, many people experience side effects such as nausea, increased heart rate, and jitters.
What Kind of Results Can I Expect from Using Caffeine Supplements?
You can expect to see improvements in fat loss, muscle endurance, and strength gains. One study has shown that subjects who consumed 5mg/kg of body weight for 14 days experienced an increase in the time needed to complete sets by 18% compared to those supplemented with a placebo.
Another study showed an increase in the number of reps performed on both the bench press and squat after ingesting 200mg of caffeine 60 minutes before training. The subjects completed fewer reps when they took caffeine after their workout.
Caffeine does not act as an appetite suppressant. Therefore, you will need to ensure that your calorie intake is high enough (at least 25% over maintenance level) if you want the full benefits of caffeine on weight loss. Caffeine may promote hunger and food cravings if you are not eating enough, making fat loss more difficult.
Recommendations for Fat Loss and Muscle Gain
Caffeine has been linked to significant increases in muscle strength, endurance, and athletic performance. This is mainly due to caffeine’s ability to increase glycogen resynthesis (how quickly your muscles recover) and increase adrenaline, dopamine, and serotonin production.
Recommendations for Fat Loss only
People who are only interested in weight loss should use 100mg of caffeine for every 60 pounds of body weight per day (this equals 25mg of caffeine for every pound of body weight). A good starting point would be two capsules per day which provides 200mg or approximately 2 cups of coffee.
I do not recommend taking more than 400mg once because it can promote nausea and jitters. Please take it in several smaller dosages throughout the day.
I recommend taking one pill 30 minutes before working out and another 60-90 minutes after your workout is completed (the longer you wait to drink your post-workout shake or meal, the more beneficial it will be for fat loss).
Recommendations for Muscle Gain only
People who want to gain muscle can use a dosage of 3-6mg/kg of body weight per day, equaling 200mg – 400mg for an average person. Larger individuals can consume as much as 800mg at a time without experiencing adverse side effects.
Side Effects and Precautions
Caffeine is not recommended for individuals with high blood pressure or heart problems. It can also cause insomnia, headaches, and nausea in some people, so you should avoid taking it later than 4 hours before bedtime.
Although caffeine can be effective as a weight-loss supplement, it does come with some potential side effects:
- Anxiety and restlessness.
- Dehydration and nausea.
- Headaches and increased heart rate.
Caffeine also has numerous drug interactions, so I recommend you consult your doctor before using it, especially if you have high blood pressure or any other medical condition, take any medications, or are pregnant/breastfeeding.
Final Wrap Up
Caffeine is one of the most effective supplements for burning fat and improving endurance performance. Start by consuming 100mg – 200mg per day or 2 cups of coffee. If you want to burn more calories, add another serving of caffeine 30-60 minutes after your first dosage.
Ensure that you eat enough food when using caffeine because it does not act as an appetite suppressant. I recommend choosing a caffeine supplement containing 100mg – 200mg of caffeine per serving with at least 300mg of green tea extract for maximum results.