It’s tempting to believe that because it gets your heart racing and adrenaline pumping, drinking coffee helps you lose weight.
But according to a new study published in the Journal Of Food Science, it could do the total opposite by making you crave sweet foods.
The study, which has the lengthy title ‘Caffeine May Reduce Perceived Sweet Taste in Humans, Supporting Evidence That Adenosine Receptors Modulate Taste’, found that drinking coffee can actually trigger your sweet tooth.
Researchers at Cornell University in New York, US, split 107 participants into two groups. One was given coffee with 200ml of caffeine in it, and the others decaf – though both had sugar in their drinks.
During a subsequent sensory test, those who drank the caffeinated drink rated theirs as less sweet than the decaf group.
In other words, caffeine seemed to dampen their taste receptors – which means that when you drink it, you won’t notice how sweet the things you’re eating are and still crave that sugar.
Robin Dando, assistant professor of food science and the study’s senior author said on the University website: “When you drink caffeinated coffee, it will change how you perceive taste – for however long that effect lasts.
“So if you eat food directly after drinking a caffeinated coffee or other caffeinated drinks, you will likely perceive food differently.”
In the second part of the study, the participants also reported their levels of alertness, estimating the amount of caffeine in their coffee.
Interestingly, they reported the same increase in alertness whether they drank the caffeinated or decaffeinated drinks.
Which is why Dando and the other researchers suspect that there might be a “placebo” or “conditioning” effect in the simple action of drinking coffee:
“Think Pavlov’s dog,” Dando explained.
“The act of drinking coffee – with the aroma and taste – is usually followed by alertness. So the panelists felt alert even if the caffeine was not there.
“What seems to be important is the action of drinking that coffee. Just the action of thinking that you’ve done the things that make you feel more awake, makes you feel more awake.”
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