While it sounds too good to be true, research continues to suggest coffee and chocolate can be useful weight-management tools. Yes, you read that right!
Two of your (and arguably everyone’s) most craved and beloved foods might actually be able to help you lose a few pounds—if you work them into your diet the right way.
Both of these foods have been given a bad rap in the past. But accumulating evidence finds that regularly enjoying these two foods, while not directly causing weight loss, are indeed associated with a lower body weight.
Chocolate as a Weight-Management Tool
Not all chocolate products will do. The most widely available versions aren’t really chocolate at all but are little more than chocolate-flavored candies—low-quality, calorie-dense, sugar-laden treats that are often combined with an array of artificial ingredients and out-of-control portions.
The better chocolates are rich in cocoa, have fewer calories and grams of sugar, and can be consumed in a portion-controlled manner. These chocolates can serve as an effective weight-loss tool.
One study found that as part of a calorie-restricted diet, chocolate consumption spread throughout the day (totaling about 150 calories) helped to curb cravings, leading to the consumption of fewer calories overall, and in turn, weight loss (1).
In another study, researchers analyzed the diets of more than 1,000 healthy men and women and found that frequent chocolate consumption was associated with a lower body mass index (BMI) compared to those who rarely ate chocolate (2).
Again, quality and portion control are key when selecting chocolates to aid in weight loss. For example, at 60 calories per square, IsaDelight® chocolates stand out among other kinds of chocolate—packed with feel-good ingredients like green tea while leaving out any artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners.
Coffee as a Calorie-Free Beverage
Coffee has faced a lot of criticism in the past, but in the constantly developing world of nutrition research, newer studies have re-evaluated older findings in light of new information.
Many of the early studies that painted coffee in a negative light failed to account for external factors, such as the sugars, syrups, and trans fat-laden creamers that are often added to coffee. And while coffee may have been seen as unhealthy in the past, new evidence from carefully controlled studies indicates that the potential benefits of coffee outweigh previously suggested drawbacks (3).
Newer studies also suggest that moderate coffee consumption can have positive effects on body weight management although the reasons are not well understood (4-5).
For starters, the caffeine in coffee can give people a boost in metabolism and energy that could lead to greater calories burned during the day. Researchers found that after drinking a 16-ounce mug of coffee, study participants experienced a modest increase in metabolic rate that lasted for over three hours (4).
In a separate study that explored the habits of people who have successfully maintained weight loss, researchers found that drinking coffee was associated with keeping off the excess pounds (5). The effect may have been due to coffee being a calorie-free beverage that replaces other high-calorie options.
Another possibility is that coffee consumption prior to exercise has been shown to improve performance, which can lead to more efficient workouts and the potential for greater amounts of calories burned during weight loss (6).
Now before you go grab a large mocha with extra whipped cream, chocolate sauce, and a chocolate-coated candy bar, think again. These are packed with extra sugar, fat, and calories and can derail your weight-loss efforts altogether.
On the other hand, there’s definitely no problem making room in a weight-loss regimen for treating yourself to a moderate amount of quality chocolate and a few cups of coffee.
- Piehowski KE, Preston AG, Miller DL, Nickols-Richardson SM. A reduced-calorie dietary pattern including a daily sweet snack promotes body weight reduction and body composition improvements in premenopausal women who are overweight and obese: a pilot study. J Am Diet Assoc 2011;111:1198-203.
- Golomb BA, Koperski S, White HL. Association Between More Frequent Chocolate Consumption and Lower Body Mass Index. Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(6):519-521. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2011.2100.
- Perez-Jimenez J, Nevey V, Vos F et al. Identification of the 100 richest dietary sources of polyphenols: an application of Phenol-Explorer Database. Eur J Clin Nutr, 2010;64(3):S112-120.
- Koot P, Deurenberg P. Comparison of changes in energy expenditure and body temperatures after caffeine consumption. Ann Nutr Metab. 1995;39(3):135-42.
- Icken D, Feller S, Engeli S, Mayr A, Müller A, Hilbert A, de Zwaan M. Caffeine intake is related to successful weight loss maintenance. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2015 Nov 11. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2015.183.
- Doherty M, Smith PM. Effects of caffeine ingestion on exercise testing: a meta-analysis. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2004 Dec;14(6):626-46.