Green Coffee Bean Extract: Helpful or All Hype?

Here's a look at the Dr. Oz-endorsed product that's created so much buzz.

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While many things in life are unpredictable, you can almost always count on the persistence of new weight loss gimmicks and diet fads. Much to my chagrin, some of these gimmicks stay around way longer than they should. Call it great marketing or just the consumer's dire need for a quick fix, but green coffee bean extract seems to be here to stay awhile.

Keri Gans
Keri Gans
The hype began in September 2012. On his show, Dr. Oz nationally introduced green bean coffee extract as a "fat burner that helps women lose weight." And as we know, Dr. Oz has a very strong influence on his viewers, so needless to say, the product took off.

So what exactly is green coffee bean extract? "Green coffee" refers to the raw or unroasted seeds (beans) of Coffea fruits. In the typical roasting process of coffee beans, a chemical called chlorogenic acid is reduced. It's this chemical that is thought to be responsible for several health benefits, including weight loss.

There have been several short-term studies suggesting that chlorogenic acid slows absorption of fat from food intake and activates metabolism of extra fat. Dr. Oz even conducted his own "study" of 100 women for two weeks, concluding that participants who took 400 milligrams of the extract lost an average of two pounds, while those who took the placebo lost one pound. However, to date, there is no conclusive scientific evidence that validates the weight loss claim, especially as it relates to long-term success. And I don't know about you, but I err on the side of science.

Also, one of the important things to remember with green coffee bean is that it contains caffeine, just like roasted coffee. And even though two cups of coffee per day is generally safe and might even have its own benefits, more is not better. Excess caffeine can cause insomnia, nervousness and restlessness, gastrointestinal distress, increased heart rate and more.

So if green coffee bean extract is not the silver bullet for weight loss, then what is? Deep down, we all know the answer: There is no quick and easy solution. Weight loss takes time and commitment. It isn't about popping a pill; it's about eating real foods that include many nutrients to fuel our bodies properly. We can stay glued to our television sets and see what Dr. Oz or others tout next, or we can get off our butts and start making healthy changes today.

Hungry for more? Write to eatandrun@usnews.com with your questions, concerns, and feedback.

Keri Gans, MS, RDN, CDN, is a registered dietitian/nutritionist, media personality, spokesperson, and author of The Small Change Diet. Gans's expert nutrition advice has been featured in Glamour, Fitness, Health, Self and Shape, and on national television and radio, including The Dr. Oz Show, Good Morning America, ABC News, Primetime, and Sirius/XM Dr. Radio.