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Did you know that coffee, caffeine, belly fat, and cortisol are related? Find out the steps can you take to prevent this belly fat from accumulating.
Would you rather die than give up your morning cup of Joe? Like to drink several cups of coffee a day? Then your coffee habit might end up killing you sooner than later! That’s because research has proven a direct correlation between excess caffeine and cortisol and belly fat.
A couple cups of coffee a day can be beneficial for your health. There have been numerous studies linking moderate caffeine intake to positive health outcomes. Chlorogenic acid (CGA) is an abundant phyto- (plant) chemical found in coffee. Studies like this one show that CGA has antibacterial, antioxidant, and anticarcinogenic properties. And, CGA also helps metabolize blood sugar and lipids (fats). However, there’s a relationship between coffee, caffeine, belly fat, and cortisol that needs to be considered.
What’s the Relationship Between Coffee, Caffeine, Belly Fat, and Cortisol?
But too much of any good thing can be bad. With coffee, it seems that the breaking point from healthful to harmful is about 5 cups. Australian researchers in this study gave mice 3 milligrams of CGA, which is the human equivalent of 5 cups of coffee.
At the 5 cup a day level, mice were not able to metabolize fat effectively in the liver and adipose tissue. The mice that were fed 3 mg of CGA per day had abnormal retention of fat within the cells. (Bad news if you’re a mouse getting ready for swimsuit season!)
This type of fat retention is called visceral fat. Visceral fat is stored in the abdominal cavity. This is where most of your important internal organs reside. The liver, pancreas and intestines are all within the abdominal cavity.
Is it Mother Nature’s cruel trick that we store fat around the midsection? Yes! But there’s a good reason why we retain fat around these areas. And the reason why is related to stress and cortisol.
Why is my morning cup of coffee making me fat?
Again, if you stick with a cup of coffee or two, you probably are not at risk for retaining extra body fat. You might even get some health benefits as previously mentioned. You need to understand the big picture of how coffee, caffeine, belly fat, and cortisol are related.
But here’s why you might be at risk for metabolic diseases like obesity, high blood pressure, stroke and heart attack….
Just like a little coffee is good for you, so is a little stress. Stress makes us feel alive. Without stress we’re like couch-potato zombies. We were designed to handle a little stress. Even flourish. But chronic stress wreaks havoc on your health.
But here’s what happens when you undergo chronic stress: your adrenal glands (which are on top of your kidneys) releases “fight-or-flight” stress hormones. You’ve probably heard of cortisol. There’s also a couple other stress hormones released by the adrenals: norepinephrine and epinephrine.
At the first sign of stress, your stress hormones get to work. Norepinephrine stops producing insulin. The reason: so you have a supply of quick-energy burning blood glucose ready for flight or fight.
Digestion slows way down. Epinephrine relaxes stomach and intestinal muscles. Blood is shunted away from these digestive organs.
In a normal, healthy person, the stress stops and all systems go back to normal. But in a constantly stressed out person, cortisol keeps flowing through the body.
Cortisol is good, right? So why can it make me fat?
Remember how digestion slows down when cortisol surges through the body? If digestion slows down, fat metabolism becomes less effective. And here’s the cruel reason why you tend to store more fat in the abdomen: you have more cortisol receptors in your midsection.
Pretty cruel, right? Well, it’s a starvation prevention mechanism. Think about it…when we undergo stress, our body has no way of knowing when our next meal might be. So it tells digestion to slow down to conserve fat.
So you’re not burning fat as effectively, and you now have more inflammation. You’re also becoming more insulin resistant.
It turns out that CGA (remember: it’s the plant compound in coffee beans) also is bad for homocysteine levels. Homocysteine is an amino acid. It’s a byproduct of protein metabolism. When levels are too high, it can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Researchers concluded in a study that coffee drinkers have higher homocysteine levels. If homocysteine levels are a tad elevated, you probably have nothing to worry about. Just try to cut your coffee intake to 2-3 cups per day, max.
One important thing to consider when drinking coffee … coffee beans are one of the most heavily sprayed crops. Coffee beans can also be moldy. The health benefits of moderate caffeine intake do you no good if you’re consuming pesticide residue! That’s why it’s a good reason to make sure you drink organically-grown coffee. And stick to no more than 2 cups per day if you can. If you’re a heavy coffee drinker, sticking to 2 cups might hurt a little. But now that you know the coffee, caffeine, belly fat, and cortisol relation, it’s better than dying from your cuppa Joe habit.