Caffeine, Green Coffee Beans, Coconut Milk, & Carrageenan

by Jackie Wicks

Question 2 comes from Deb. Deb asks,

I’ve been told by a holistic nutritionist that green coffee bean extract is a bad idea and will stress out your adrenal glands. I know Dr. Sara has said to cut out caffeine for this reason. Yet Dr. Axe says that coffee has caffeine which might stress your adrenal glands, but green coffee bean extract will not! I tried Googling it but I couldn’t find an answer.

Hi Deb! As far as caffeine content goes, I side with Dr. Axe–green coffee beans are the unroasted coffee beans and the main chemical we’re seeking to isolate from them isn’t caffeine, but rather the chlorogenic acids. Different companies with different methods will no doubt result in differing caffeine levels, but around 20 mg is the general amount I’ve seen in green coffee bean extracts. By way of comparison, a cup of green tea has around 30 mg.

It’s unlikely such a small amount of caffeine will stress your adrenal glands, even if you’re experiencing a particularly stressful period of your life. Green coffee beans aren’t a magic bullet for weight loss, but if I were to weigh the advantages of the potential benefits of the chlorogenic acids in green coffee beans against the disadvantages of caffeine on already stressed adrenals, the weight loss advantages would win out. This is because our fat tissue, most notably our visceral fat (the type on our belly that pads the organs), can actually increase levels of cortisol! So, losing weight is more likely to be beneficial to our adrenals than 20 mg of caffeine is likely to be detrimental.

As with carrageenan, I have one small addendum, which is that caffeine is most likely to be a problem to the adrenals when the adrenals are already in trouble. To a healthy adrenal gland, caffeine will cause only a small, short-lived increase in cortisol production–nothing they can’t handle (or that they already do). Only when the adrenals are in trouble do we need to worry about the minor stressors which might increase cortisol production!

I mention this mainly because I don’t want anybody needlessly worrying about caffeine. In fact, caffeine is the most well-researched fat-loss aid out there, and is single-handedly capable of increasing fat-release from our adipose tissue (“lipolysis”).

My recommendation would be to utilize green tea as a caffeine source, though, as green tea contains a second compound (EGCG, or if you like long words, “epigallocatechin gallate”) which augments our body’s ability to burn fat. Together, they have synergistic effects on fat burning, making green tea the ideal pre-workout priming drink for fat-burning!

In summary, you don’t need to worry about the caffeine content of green coffee bean extract, as it is generally too low to cause any significant amount of cortisol production. The potential benefits of green coffee beans on weight loss outweigh the potential stress on the adrenal glands.

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