Wednesday, April 11, 2012

GCB Another Fatloss Acronym: Green Coffee Bean Extract Helps Pre-Obese Men and Women Shed 16lbs in 22 weeks

Image 1: Coffee! Would you have recognized it?
HCG, GTE, GSE, DNP and obviously ECA! If you have ever done some research into pharmacological and non-pharmacological weight loss agents, you are probably familiar with this alphabet soup. But would you know right off your head what GCB stands for? No, ...? "G" as in "green", "C"  as in "coffee" and "B" as in "bean" - if you make it GCBE, with an "E" for "extract" it could make another item on your list of potential weight loss tools - moreover, one that has actual human data to back it up.

Green seems to be a good color for weight loss ;-)

In a recently published paper, a group of scientists from the University of Scranton, in the US, and the Health Sciences Clinic in Bangalore, India, report on the results of 22-week cross-over trial, in which the researchers tested the efficacy and safety of high (3x 350mg) and low (2x 350mg) doses of a commercial green coffee extract product (GCA by Applied Food Sciences; a 45.9% chlorogenic acid in an extract from unroasted = green coffee beans) in 16 overweight subjects (eight males and eight females; aged 22–46, mean age 33.19y; BMI 28.22km/m²).
2014 UPDATE -- Too good to be true? This seems indeed to apply to the results of the study at hand, which has been retracted in 2014, because - listen up! - "[t]he sponsors of the study cannot assure the validity of the data" (Joe Vinson and Bryan Burnham)... wouldn't that be something the authors who did now retract the paper would have to "guarantee"? Well, be that as it may; the retraction of the paper is only the logical consequence of the lack of reproducibility other scientists commented on over the course of the 2 years it was out there increasing the sales of green coffee bean extracts and fat burners which contain this (hype-)ingredient.
In each of the three arms of the studies, the subjects received the high and low dose supplement in a different order, so that the individual supplementation protocols looked like this:
  • group 1: 6 weeks 3x 350mg / WA / 6 weeks 2x350mg / WA / 6 weeks placebo
  • group 2: 6 weeks 2x350mg / WA / 6 weeks placebo / WA / 6 weeks 3x 350mg
  • group 3: 6 weeks placebo / WA / 6 weeks 3x350mg / 6 weeks 2x 250mg
    * WA: 2-week wash-out period without supplementation

The results you see in figure 1, especially in the beginning of the study, are impressive, given the fact that the reduction in calorie intake (which is unfortunately not group-speficic) amounted to no more than -2% over the whole study period.
Figure 1: Mean weight over the whole 22-week study period and change in body fat percentage during the individual 6-week supplementation phases (data calculated based on Vinson. 2012).
It is yet somewhat suspicious that a) this phenomenon arose in both the high and the low-dose group (it was even more pronounced in the latter) and b) that the group which received the high dose in the beginning of the study experienced a profound "jojo-effect", when during the last 6-weeks, in which they received the placebo supplement.

Maybe helpful for the obese, but questionable for anyone who is already lean

Image 2: Coffee beans are not the only food (or raw material for a beverage) that loses some of its active and oftentimes healthy ingredients, when it is heated, or, as with coffee beans, roasted.
Moreover, the actual fat loss, which was measure only via one of those notoriously unreliable body impedance devices (SFB7 from Impedimed) is not exactly impressive and was statistically significant not only in the high and low dose, but also in the placebo phases of the trial (the 0.3% difference is laughable) left the subjects with still more than 23% body fat on their hips. So that, despite the existing evidence for the health and fat loss benefits of chlorogenic acid, I personally have my doubts that anyone with a dialed in nutrition and exercise regimen, would derive great fat-loss benefits from supplementing with two or three servings of this extract per day.

If you are yet still relatively chubby (the Peter Griffin type from the "Intermittent Thoughts") just interested in losing weight (an average of 16lbs or -10.5% in the study at hand) - and for the pre-obese individuals in the study at hand, this could actually be the case - GCB may really be an acronym to memorize, though.

Note: I stuck to the acronym GCB, also because it differs from the brand name of the patented "GCA" used in the study. After all, there is no reason to pay for the "A", when all you have to look for is a green coffee bean extract with a cholorogenic acid content of ~46% and a total chydroxycinnamic acid of ~57% (note: chlorogenic acid is in fact one of those chydroxycinnamic acids). And if you are not into popping pills, why don't you just make your own green coffee bean instant coffee - should work just as it is described in this guide on eHow for the regular, roasted variety... ah, and if you do, let me know how it tastes ;-)