Q: Would green coffee bean extract help me kick-start my new weight loss effort?
A: Green coffee bean extract (GCBE) has gotten a lot of publicity as a weight loss aid recently, but a 2011 analysis of the research on the topic found just a few small clinical trials that lasted from 4 to 12 weeks. The studies indicate GCBE may promote weight loss of one-half to one pound per week, yet we have no data about what would happen to weight if people were to use GCBE beyond 12 weeks, or what happened to the participants’ weight once they stopped taking the supplement. In these studies, even those on placebo lost some weight, which suggests that you can also get a motivating start to weight loss by other methods. For example, you could make a substantial cut in your calories from one particular source (perhaps regular soft drinks, sweetened tea, high-calorie coffee drinks or large amounts of juice). This is not as easy as popping a supplement. But steps like this help you lose weight and form the foundation for new habits you’ll need to lose weight and maintain the loss. If GCBE works for weight loss, it may be due to a natural compound called chlorogenic acid, which is higher in green coffee beans than roasted beans. However, when ConsumerLab.com tested GCBE products, four of the eight samples had less (none to 80%) chlorogenic acid than the extracts used in the studies. So far, it seems to be a relatively safe product in short-term use, but if you want to try it, check with your doctor to make sure there are no specific risks for you. Realistically, though, considering how the cost adds up, you might invest the same money in a fitness class, some walking shoes or a session with a Registered Dietitian for a kick-start with more lasting benefits.