Green coffee extract (GCE) is one of many weight loss products promoted by Dr. Oz, and all that attention makes it hard to tell what is real and what is hype. Green coffee extract manufacturers claim up to 17 pounds of weight loss by simply taking a pill, and without dietary changes or exercise, but is that accurate? Considering the billions of dollars generated by weight loss products, this claim requires some investigation before you run out and buy your bottle of GCE.
The active ingredient in GCE is chlorogenic acid, a compound that is present in all coffee beans, but in higher amounts in unroasted coffee beans. It can also be found in bamboo, peaches, sunflower leaves, and prunes, and shares some laxative effects with that last dried fruit.
The facts about GCE seem to end there. What research has really been done on chlorogenic acid? According to Janet Helm of the Nutrition Unplugged website, Dr. Oz bases his claims of weight loss upon very little and very poor research:
“Like many of today’s popular dietary supplements, there’s a small study (often paid for by the pill manufacturer) that gets the ball rolling. That’s exactly what happened with Green Coffee Beans. All of the recent claims are based on a single study of 16 people conducted in India. The lead author is Joe Vinson, a chemist at the University of Scranton, Pennsylvania, who has conducted other studies examining polyphenols and other natural compounds in foods. Funded by the supplement manufacturer Applied Food Sciences in Texas, the study was published in the online journal Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity: Targets and Therapy,” Helm states.
Not surprisingly, the other qualities of GCE (reducing high blood pressure and diabetes) have not been touted as much as the purported weight loss. The potential ability of GCE to regulate the release of glucose into the bloodstream and the possibility that it increases the risk of cardiovascular disease still need to be confirmed.
If the fact that the original green coffee research trial was conducted unscientifically doesn’t bother you, here are some additional things you should know about GCE:
- it may cause nutritional malabsorption issues in the intestines
- should not be used is you are pregnant or breastfeeding
- may make anxiety disorders worse
- may worsen irritable bowel syndrome and diarrheal conditions
- may alter your blood sugar levels if you’re diabetic
- can increase the risk of glaucoma (because of the caffeine content)
- may increase blood pressure
- may increase the risk for osteoporosis
Helm made a really strong point on her blog by stating, “for sustainable weight management, it does come down to your daily habits, not relying on a pill to help you meet your goal. You can’t just take a supplement and then ignore what you eat and don’t make an effort to be more active.” Diet, exercise, and lifestyle all play into what your scale says, and there is no wonder supplement or shortcut that can replace them – so save your hard-earned money, and buy some real food instead.
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