Fitness experts have long known the benefits of a daily cup o’ joe, but scientists may have discovered yet another reason to love coffee.
Researchers at the University of Nottingham in England recently found that coffee activates the body’s fat-fighting mechanism, known as “brown fat.” That means it could keep you slimmer and stave off diabetes.
“The potential implications of our results are pretty big, as obesity is a major health concern for society and we also have a growing diabetes epidemic and brown fat could potentially be part of the solution in tackling them,” professor Michael Symonds, of the University of Nottingham’s School of Medicine, said in a statement on the school’s website.
Symonds added that it’s not known whether it’s the caffeine or something else in coffee that activates the brown fat. “We are currently looking at caffeine supplements to test whether the effect is similar,” he said in the statement.
There are two types of fat in humans: brown and white. Brown fat—or brown adipose tissue—is responsible for generating body heat and burning calories, whereas white fat is the result of storing too many calories (in other words, the fat you want to get rid of).
For the study, nine human subjects were examined through thermal imaging before any exercise or prior caffeine consumption. They then drank a very small cup of coffee (a 65-milligram packet of instant coffee dissolved in 200ml of water, to be exact), and underwent further thermal imaging.
The researchers found that coffee made brown fat—mostly found in the neck—hotter, thus accelerating the amount of calories, sugar, and fat burned. The results were found in all subjects, who were described as “healthy” 27 year olds (four men, five women).
As we mentioned, it’s not surprising to hear that drinking coffee can help weight loss. But the Nottingham researchers said this particular study is groundbreaking because it’s the first time anyone has been able to find a way to stimulate brown fat in humans.
Want the benefits of coffee without the taste? Try out these recipes.