The Lean Green Machine

Green coffee bean is taking over as a weight-loss powerhouse, so be ready to answer your customers’ pressing questions.

Written By:
Colleen Morrison
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Green coffee bean extract (GCBE) has been all over the news as the latest trending solution for losing excess weight, with media outlets touting its amazing weight-loss abilities without the need for diet or exercise. These claims have created a lot of hope and even more skepticism. With all the hype surrounding GCBE, your customers rightfully want to know: Is it too good to be true?

Keeping it Raw
The coffee your customers are clamoring for isn’t found in a cup; this extract is made from the raw, unroasted beans of Coffea arabica, which when dried, ground and roasted, becomes coffee, but loses most of its weight-loss benefits (1).

Chlorogenic acid may be what’s behind the extract’s weight-loss qualities. This is present in unroasted coffee beans and breaks down with roasting, which is why a cup of coffee will not have the same effect (2). Along with inhibiting the enzyme glucose-6 phosphatase (which promotes sugar formation in the liver) to reduce the risk of glycemic disorders, studies have shown that chlorogenic acid may slow fat absorption and increase the metabolism of extra fat (1). Direct customers to check for chlorogenic acid extract, at a percentage of at least 45%, as an ingredient on the supplement label, which can also be referred to as Sventol or GCA (1).

The Dr. Oz Show decided to put GCBE and chlorogenic acid to the test with a group of 100 overweight women aged 35–49. They were given either a placebo or 400-mg capsules of the extract and instructed to take them three times a day, 30 minutes before each meal, and were asked not to change their daily routines, eating habits or exercise regimen (3). After two weeks, the women were weighed, resulting in the group on the extract losing an average of two pounds as opposed to the placebo group only losing one pound (which was chalked-up to everyone being more aware of their diets during those two weeks) (3).

Other studies have also confirmed positive results with GCBE, including one from Japan that orally administered 100-mg and 200- mg of GCBE and 60-mg of chlorogenic acid daily to mice; the results indicated that GCBE may be effective against weight gain as an inhibitor of fat absorption and activator of fat metabolism in the liver, due to the combination of chlorogenic acid and caffeine naturally found in the beans (4).

A Little Yields a Lot of Loss
The proper dosage for GCBE is still being tested, with most branded products suggesting 400-mg up to three times a day, while other products use as little as 200-mg or as much as 1,050-mg. In one study testing the effects of a high dosage, presented at the 243rd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, 16 overweight participants aged 22–26 were given the extract or a placebo for 22 weeks. Participants cycled every six weeks between taking a lower (700-mg) dose, a higher (1,050-mg) dose and the placebo. While their diets and exercise were monitored over the study period, subjects were told not to change their habits (2). The participants lost an average of 17 pounds over the 22-week study, equaling an average decrease of 10.5% in overall body weight and a 16% decrease in body fat. After seeing positive results, researchers were confident that there could have been even more weight loss achieved faster without the use of the lower dose and placebo, with no negative side-effects reported (2).

Despite sensational news reports and studies seemingly suggesting that weight-loss can happen while using GCBE without users changing their standards of living, this may be with the assumption that consumers are leading a moderately healthy lifestyle with diet and at least some exercise. There is no such thing as a magic diet pill, as positive as this supplement may seem.

Not Just For Dieters
In addition to its main weight-loss ability, GCBE has been shown to help with lowering blood pressure in those with mild hypertension.

A case study from Tokyo, Japan divided 117 male volunteers with mild hypertension into four groups with three receiving 46- mg, 93-mg and 185-mg of a water-soluble GCBE, respectively, and one taking a placebo. Their systolic blood pressure was measured after 28 days; although all four groups had some reduced pressure, significant drops were shown in the 93-mg and 185-mg groups (5). Researchers concluded that daily use of the extract could potentially have blood pressure-lowering effects for those with mild hypertension without adverse effects, as none were observed during the study (5).

As GCBE is still a new phenomenon, more research is needed to understand what kind of effects may occur (6). The extract does contain some caffeine like its roasted and brewed counterpart, so similar precautions for stimulants should be taken for those with anxiety and bleeding disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, glaucoma or aversions to caffeine. WF

1. The Dr. Oz Show, “Fact Sheet: Green Coffee Bean,”, accessed Nov. 30, 2012.
2. ScienceDaily, “New Evidence on Effects of Green Coffee Beans in Weight Loss,”, accessed Nov. 30, 2012.
3. The Dr. Oz Show, “The Green Coffee bean Project,”, accessed Nov. 30, 2012.
4. H. Shimoda, E. Seki and M. Aitani, “Inhibitory Effect of Green Coffee Bean Extract on Fat Accumulation and Body Weight Gain in Mice,” BMC Compl. Alt.e Med. 2006, 2006, 6, 9, accessed Nov. 30, 2012.
5. K. Kozuma et al., “Antihypertensive Effect of Green Coffee Bean Extract on Mildly Hypertensive Subjects,” Hypertens. Res. 28 (9), 711–718 (2005),, accessed Nov. 30, 2012.
6. WedMD, “Green Coffee,”, accessed Nov. 30, 2012.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, January 2013