Researchers found coffee might help the body to burn calories.
It does this through stimulating certain fat cells – known as brown adipose tissue – into releasing their energy.
The study, conducted University of Nottingham scientists, used thermal imaging to monitor participants’ brown fat reserves.
Drinking coffee had a positive effect on the cells’ ability to generate heat, burning energy in the process.
What is brown fat?
Our body has two different types of fat cells: brown cells and white cells.
The brown fat cells primarily burn energy, while the white fat cells are there to store energy.
"Brown fat works in a different way to other fat in your body and produces heat by burning sugar and fat, often in response to cold,” said study co-author professor Michael Symonds, from the School of Medicine at the University of Nottingham.
"Increasing its activity improves blood sugar control as well as improving blood lipid levels and the extra calories burnt help with weight loss.
“However, until now, no one has found an acceptable way to stimulate its activity in humans."
Coffee and weight loss
While these findings are promising, Symonds warns slimmers shouldn’t be reaching for the cafetière just yet.
For a start, the study only involved nine people – four men and five women.
What’s more, the researchers are as of yet unsure of exactly what component in coffee causes the weight loss.
"The results were positive and we now need to ascertain that caffeine as one of the ingredients in the coffee is acting as the stimulus or if there's another component helping with the activation of brown fat," Symonds said.
If you’re looking for an alternative way to justify your coffee-drinking habits, you might be interested in a recent study published in the European Journal of Epidemiology, which found a twice daily caffeine hit could help you to live longer.
However, bear in mind excessive coffee drinking can be linked to jitteriness and anxiety – so, for some individuals, less is more.