I don’t think I have seen quite this much hype since the Acai Berry fad. The buzz about Green Coffee Extract has even eclipsed the noise generated for Raspberry Ketones.
(As an aside, I think Acai Berry is probably just expensive fruit juice. Raspberry Ketones sounds like it might be worthwhile, now that the initial prices seem to be coming down, but I use MCT oil myself.)
No matter where I turn, I’m seeing articles about green coffee extract, and ads that make it out to be the magical obesity cure, which I suspect is a bit over the top.
So, what’s the deal? A bit of basic search-fu turns up some interesting facts about this:
There was one small study (16 people) in March 2012 that showed significant weight loss that was attributed to green coffee extract.
It was a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study (link is to the published abstract). “Double-blind” means that neither the participants nor the people administering the pills knew whether the pills were actually green coffee extract or a placebo. “Placebo” is generally a small dose of glucose or starch colored to match the appearance of whatever is being tested. “Crossover” means that each participant served as his or her own control by spending half of the study on the real test, and the other half on the placebo.
This type of study is considered to be the “gold standard” for nutritional research, but that does not guarantee that the conclusions are valid.
- One of the minuses is that it is only one study, and the only follow-up to date was a test with decaf green coffee to verify that the presumed active ingredient (chlorogenic acid) was actually absorbed into the body, and not just passed through.
- Aside from the fact that the study was small (16 subjects) and short (22 weeks, 11 on each leg of the crossover), it was funded by Applied Food Sciences Inc., a manufacturer of green coffee bean extract. (What could possibly go wrong with that?).
- Chlorogenic acid (the presumed active ingredient) has not been verified to have the effects claimed for it, so the actual results may well be due to something else.
- The study has not yet been independently replicated.
The stuff does appear to be safe, and the effect (if it’s real) does not seem to be associated with caffeine, since the level of caffeine in the test extract was less than a quarter of what you get in a regular cup of coffee. It might be worth an N=1 experiment, but I’m going to put that on the back burner until I hear from other folks who have tried it.
Green coffee beans are readily available from a number of places, and a few years back, Georgene and I did some of our own roasting. It did not occur to us at the time to try consuming any of the stuff without first roasting it. I can’t help but wonder if that might be a more cost-effective way to try it. After all, if it has a really disgusting taste, we can just roast it…
If you have tried it, and it has been helpful, please comment. But frankly, I’m more interested in hearing from you if you tried it, and were not impressed with the results. Either way, please take a few minutes to tell me about your experience with green coffee extract in the comments below. Please be sure to mention the brand and dosage you used.