Coffee and appetite: Does coffee make you more or less hungry? |

According to research published last year in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, drinking coffee can actually minimize hunger, while the effects of caffeine on hunger are highly variable. One study found that after consuming caffeine, subjects were less hungry after a meal and lost an average of 12 percent of their body weight over a three-week period. Another found that after caffeine, subjects were more than three times as likely to eat a high-fat snack. But another study found that after caffeine, subjects were less likely to eat a high-calorie snack and were actually more hungry after a meal. These findings are, of course, more complicated than many journalists want to make them out to be.

No, I am not talking about the new Starbucks Reserve Roastery Reserve Coffee.  This coffee is very good, and slightly expensive, but you can get it at cheaper prices.  What I am talking about is coffee.  It is true that coffee makes you hungry.  New research has shown this to be true in several studies.  In fact, coffee made on an empty stomach increases the desire for food in both men and women.  I am not sure how much this effect is due to the caffeine in coffee.  In animal studies, caffeine has the similar effect of manipulating the brain’s appetite centers.  Perhaps there is a biological reason that makes coffee make us hungrier, but

coffee has been proven to be somewhat of a double-edged sword. While the caffeine can have its positive effects on your mood and energy levels, it can also trigger energy crashes that can leave you feeling like you’re not quite sure whether you should eat or stop eating. According to research from the University of California, Berkeley, coffee may have the opposite effect than it seems. Drinking a hot cup of joe may actually make you more likely to eat less, not more.

Complex processes in our bodies manage our hunger and appetite, and what we eat and drink — including coffee — can have a big impact on them.

While many people use coffee with caffeine to suppress their appetites, new research suggests that if you want to lose weight, you should stick to decaf.


Coffee is consumed by billions of people throughout the world to increase energy, alertness, and athletic performance. Many people drink coffee to lose weight because it decreases their appetite.

If you want to reduce weight, Dr. Mehmet Oz recommends avoiding brewed coffee in favor of green coffee bean extract. Could it still help you lose weight if you aren’t a fan of Oz and prefer to drink your coffee instead of taking it as a pill?

Is coffee good for you? It is debatable.

Our fears boil up like a well-formed espresso crema, thanks to Famous TV Doctors and media attention to coffee’s health effects: Should we drink more java? Or does each drop bring us one step closer to a well-caffeinated grave? The truth appears to be as sloppy as a truck stop joe.

One reason is that people metabolize coffee at various rates, which are genetically fixed. Coffee also has an impact on a variety of neurotransmitters and hormones (such as cortisol and insulin).

Coffee’s mixed effects are also dependent on the sort of coffee consumed, the amount consumed, the time consumed, your overall biological makeup, and other factors.

All About Coffee has more information on the various benefits and risks of coffee.

What’s in your cup of joe?

Coffee is a complicated chemical composition.

Caffeine, the world’s most extensively used stimulant substance, is abundant in it. Caffeine is a xanthine alkaloid that acts as a stimulant to the central nervous system and metabolism. A small amount of caffeine can be beneficial to your health; however, too much caffeine can be harmful.

Caffeine is an effective ergogenic — anything that boosts athletic performance by sparing muscle glycogen and delaying exhaustion — because it spares muscle glycogen and delays fatigue. See All About Caffeine for further information about caffeine.

Coffee also contains phytochemical substances known as chlorogenic acids, which are a type of dietary phenol that is physiologically active and antioxidant. Apples, pears, artichokes, strawberries, pineapple, sunflower, and blueberries all contain chlorogenic acids (1).

Obesity experts and nutritional supplement makers have recently become interested in chlorogenic acids, which can help reduce hunger. Because the outcomes of mouse studies have been mixed, I wouldn’t rush out and buy green coffee bean extract just yet (2,3).


Coffee contains chlorogenic acids, which are antioxidants that may help to reduce hunger.

Getting to the bottom of how to regulate your appetite

Every obesity researcher is on the lookout for the key to unlocking their secrets: hunger and satiety. It’s complicated since hundreds of hormones interact to impact appetite, hunger, and satiety.

Ghrelin, leptin, and peptide YY are three of the hormones studied this week. Ghrelin is an orexic hormone that stimulates appetite. Leptin and peptide YY are anorexic hormones that suppress appetite.

Ghrelin & leptin

Ghrelin is mostly produced in the stomach. It enhances food intake by stimulating appetite. Leptin is a hormone that has been found to reduce food intake while increasing energy expenditure. It is produced largely in fat cells.

An easy way to recall the distinction between these two is to think of ghrelin as stomach GRemlins and GRowling.

See Leptin, Ghrelin, and Weight Loss: It’s Complicated for further information on how leptin and ghrelin function.

YY peptide (PYY)

The third hormone, peptide YY, is released by cells of the ileum and large intestine mucosa (PYY).

PYY helps people feel full or satisfied by reducing hunger and food intake, possibly by acting on neurons in the hypothalamus. PYY, according to some experts, may cause a delay in stomach emptying (4).

Question for investigation

So, how does coffee function?

How does coffee help people lose weight if it can help them lose weight? Does it raise PYY and leptin while lowering ghrelin? Is it caffeine or something else, such as chlorogenic acid, that affects hormones?

This week’s review, on the other hand, poses three linked questions:

  1. What effect does caffeine, caffeinated coffee, and coffee that has been decaffeinated have on people’s appetite and fullness levels?
  2. How does coffee influence the levels of hormones like ghrelin, PYY, and leptin in the blood?
  3. Does a glucose load alter the impact of the drinks? (Or, to put it another way, does having a donut with your coffee change the game?)

Hypotheses that were first proposed

Hypothesis 1: Decaffeinated coffee, caffeinated coffee, and caffeine reduce hunger, ghrelin, and leptin levels while increasing satiety and PYY levels.

Hypothesis 2: These effects would occur 60 minutes after subjects consumed the test beverage and for the next 120 minutes after they consumed glucose.

Let’s have a look at how it turned out.

Coffee, hunger, and peptide YY. Greenberg, J.A., and Geliebter, A. 160-166 in J. Am. Coll. Nutr. 31(3). (2012).


A placebo-controlled, randomized, four-way crossover trial was used in this investigation. To put it another way, there were four drinks in total: a placebo and three test drinks:

  • caffeinated coffee
  • decaffeinated coffee
  • a mixture of caffeine and water

During the trial period, the 11 study participants consumed each of the four drinks (thus the term “crossover”).

The study was also single-blinded, meaning that the participants had no idea what they were eating (they were blind to it), but the researchers did.

This design allows researchers to compare the drinks more effectively without having to worry about subject variance. They can compare and contrast Person A’s beverage X with Person A’s beverage Y, and so on.


The subjects attended the lab four times for testing, 1-2 weeks apart, because there were four test conditions (placebo drink, caffeinated coffee, decaffeinated coffee, caffeine in water) (so that there would be no potential interaction between drinks). Subjects were not allowed to exercise or consume alcohol for 48 hours before to the test.

The lab visits were set to take place in the afternoon. Before each visit, the subjects ate the same light breakfast and then nothing else — no lunch or snacks. I’m guessing they were ravenous at the start of the experiment.

Each visit followed the same pattern:

  1. Each patient was weighed and asked to fill out a questionnaire about caffeine, food, and alcohol consumption, as well as illness, stress, and exercise, as well as any previous visit side effects.
  2. Throughout the trial, subjects sat on a chair while a catheter was placed into a vein for blood sampling. A preliminary blood sample was taken.
  3. The participants were given 30 minutes to rest.
  4. Subjects were given a beverage at random: placebo, caffeinated coffee, decaffeinated coffee, or caffeine in water, and were instructed to consume it within ten minutes.
  5. A second blood sample was taken.
  6. After another 60 minutes of rest, the individuals were given a ten-ounce container of flavored water with 75 grams of glucose to drink. (Ick — strong coffee, many blood draws, and glucose infusions? My stomach would be ecstatic! On an empty stomach, the combination would most likely have me hunting for a spot to puke. What people are willing to do in the name of science!)
  7. Back in the lab, the glucose ingestion was followed by six more blood draws over the course of two hours. We now have a total of eight blood draws if you include the additional blood draws. The individuals were asked to rate their hunger and satiety (fullness) on visual analog scales throughout each of the eight draws (VAS).


Subjects’ hunger and satiety ratings

Researchers utilize the visual analogue scale (VAS) for more subjective or vague factors like pain or weariness because it is well-validated and widely used (5). People could rate objects on a scale of one to one hundred using VAS.

“How hungry do you feel?” researchers asked individuals to gauge their appetite. With a score of 0 representing “not at all” and 100 representing “I’ve never been more hungry.” They were also asked to rate their satiety on a scale of 0 to 100, with 0 indicating “I am entirely full” and 100 indicating “I am unable to eat another bite.”


A Visual Analog Scale (VAS) used to assess hunger and satiety.

Metrics that are objective

So, how did the scientists dispose of all much blood? They also measured the levels of three internal peptides: ghrelin, PYY, and leptin (a peptide is a collection of two or more amino acids joined by chemical bonding between their carboxyl group and their amino group).

To recap:

Hormone discovered in/secreted by The impact on hunger
Ghrelin Pancreas and stomach Hunger is heightened.
PYY Lower bowel (ileum & colon) Reduces hunger
Leptin Primary adipose (fat) tissue, as well as the gastrointestinal tract; ovaries; bone marrow; muscle; pituitary; liver Reduces hunger

Beverage preparation for the test

My mother believes I’m a coffee snob, so when I discovered that Chock Full O’Nuts Original was the brand utilized in this study, I had to giggle.

Whether I’m a coffee snob or not, the $200 participation fee would cover at least a month’s worth of my preferred organic fair trade coffee beans.

The goal was to increase the concentration of non-caffeine coffee components while avoiding a tar-like brew. They did some research and discovered that a brew with 6 mg of caffeine per kilogram of body weight was approximately right.

This amount is roughly equal to 16-20 ounces of coffee, which is about what the average coffee user consumes these days, especially with the big mugs we all use.

Then they utilized their research personnel as testers, creating the greatest concentration their staff could tolerate. I can imagine a lab full of twitchy, hyper-alert scientists slapping the invisible bugs from their skin with their hands.

Chefmate, a common drip-filter coffee machine, was employed by the researchers. Perhaps you have one on your kitchen counter.

The following is a breakdown of the drinks:

  • For the caffeinated coffee, 40 g of ground coffee was used to achieve a caffeine concentration of 6 mg/kg body weight. Caffeine content was found to be 0.73 mg/ml coffee using high-performance liquid chromotography.
  • To get the same strength in the decaffeinated coffee, 57 g of ground coffee was used.
  • They used the coffee machine to get the caffeine in the water, but instead of using grounds, they used food-grade caffeine powder to get 6 mg/kg body weight of caffeine.


So keep this in mind:

Hypothesis 1: Decaffeinated coffee, caffeinated coffee, and caffeine reduce hunger, ghrelin, and leptin levels while increasing satiety and PYY levels.

Hypothesis 2: These effects would occur 60 minutes after subjects consumed the test beverage and for the next 120 minutes after they consumed glucose.

You might be surprised by the outcomes.

(Skip to the end if you just want a quick summary.)

The results were presented as a graph of time vs beverage effect, and the area under the curve, or AUC, was computed. AUC is a statistical method of combining data from a set of measurements taken on a single person.

Hunger ratings (at 180 minutes): During the whole trial period, decaffeinated coffee resulted in statistically significantly lower hunger levels than placebo and caffeine. Hunger AUC was similar after decaffeinated coffee consumption vs. placebo and caffeine, and was statistically considerably lower. The difference in hunger AUC between caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee was not significant. However, hunger was not significantly reduced after drinking caffeinated coffee compared to placebo or caffeine.

The AUC for caffeine vs. placebo, as well as decaffeinated vs. caffeinated coffee, was not statistically different. After glucose administration, the difference in appetite between decaffeinated coffee and placebo did not change significantly over time and did not lessen toward the end of the research.

Satiety ratings (at 180 minutes): While no substantial beverage effects were found, satiety ratings followed a similar pattern to hunger ratings. In other words, after the decaffeinated coffee, satiety ratings were greater than after any of the other beverages, but not high enough to approach statistical significance.

PYY (pmol/l at 90 minutes): Within 60 minutes of ingestion and during the 90 minutes following beverage ingestion, PYY was considerably higher after decaffeinated coffee than after both placebo and caffeine. Decaffeinated coffee had a considerably greater PYY AUC in the 90-minute timeframe than placebo and caffeine.

PYY (pmol/l at 180 minutes): The PYY AUC of decaffeinated coffee was higher than that of caffeine.

There were no significant effects of any of the beverages on ghrelin (pmol/l at 180 minutes).

There were no significant effects of any of the beverages on leptin (nmol/l at 180 minutes).


While caffeine has long been used to suppress appetite, decaffeinated coffee was found to have much lower hunger levels and greater plasma levels of PYY than placebo (plain water) and other caffeinated beverages in this investigation.

Less hunger equals more PYY. Not only that, but the reduction in appetite lasted the entire 3 hours of the lab visit, despite the fact that PYY levels had dropped after 1.5 hours.

Another intriguing observation was that the decrease in hunger and elevation in PYY continued even after the glucose was consumed.

We can assume that something – one or more noncaffeine components (coffee contains hundreds of them) – can reduce hunger while increasing PYY. Chlorogenic acid or other satiety hormones could be at blame. We don’t yet have a whole picture, especially since leptin and ghrelin didn’t appear to be changed.

Remember that this study has flaws, including a limited sample size. A fifth beverage, decaffeinated coffee with supplemental caffeine, could be included in future research to investigate potential interactions between caffeine and the noncaffeine components.

Food measures might be used to rate hunger and fullness, and researchers could even analyze brain waves.

Regardless, this research yielded some intriguing findings that could lead to practical applications for enhancing fullness and decreasing appetite.

In conclusion

Coffee is high in antioxidants and has a variety of health advantages, though not everyone reacts to it the same way. (If you’re curious about how effectively you metabolize caffeine, try 23AndMe or another genetic analysis service that can evaluate your caffeine metabolism ability.)

If you’re relying on a lot of caffeine to keep your hunger at bay, try switching to decaffeinated coffee and paying attention to your hunger and satiety signals. You might be startled by what you discover.

(And maybe your friends and family will be relieved to learn that you’re no longer a crazed jerk!)


To see the information sources mentioned in this article, go here.

M. N. Clifford, M. N. Clifford, M. N. Clifford, M. N. Clifford, M. N. Clifford, M. N. Clifford, M. N. Clifford, M. N. Clifford, M. N. Clifford 79:362-372. J. Sci. Food Agric.

I. Onakpoya, T. Rohini, and E. Ernst Review and meta-analysis of randomised clinical studies on the use of green coffee extract as a weight loss supplement. 10.1155/2011/382852 Gastroenterol Res Pract 2011:1-6

E. Thom. The effect of chlorogenic acid-enriched coffee on glucose absorption and body mass in healthy volunteers. 900-908 in J Int Med Res, 2007.

E. Karra, K. Chandarana, and R. Batterham Peptide YY’s role in appetite regulation and obesity. 19-25 in Journal of Physiology, 2009.

Reproducibility, power, and validity of visual analogue scales in assessing appetite sensations in single test meal studies. Flint, A., Raben, A., Blundell, J.E., Astrup, A. Int J Obes Relat Metab Diord, 24(1), 38-48, Jan 2000.

Better eating, moving, and living.

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Coffee is one of the most popular drinks around the world. This beverage is made up of roasted coffee beans and is often served hot or just-boiled in hot drinks like tea or cocoa. The active ingredient in coffee is caffeine and it is known for its negative effects on the body. For one, it is known to increase the risk of obesity and weight gain.. Read more about caffeine and weight gain and let us know what you think.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Does coffee decrease your appetite?

Coffee does not decrease your appetite.

Can caffeine increase your appetite?

Caffeine can increase your appetite.

Why does coffee ruin my appetite?

Coffee is a stimulant that can cause an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, which can lead to dehydration.

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