People who are struggling to lose weight may benefit from cutting out coffee, new research suggests.
Caffeine may trigger the temptation for sweet treats, a study found.
Researchers believe caffeine’s ability to boost alertness also reduces people’s perception of sweetness, which may make them desire such flavors more.
Senior author Professor Robin Dando from Cornell University, said: ‘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.’
How the study was carried out
The researchers analysed 107 volunteers.
Such volunteers were randomly split into two groups. The first received an otherwise decaffeinated coffee with a 200mg caffeine supplement, making it strong.
The remaining participants were given a decaffeinated coffee with an added substance to make it the same degree of bitterness as the first drink. The substance had no effect on the coffee’s sweetness, sourness or saltiness.
Both of the drinks had added sugar.
All of the participants then completed sensory tests.
‘Coffee will change how you perceive taste’
Results reveal that people find caffeinated drinks less sweet.
The researchers believe caffeine’s ability to dampen down taste receptors, leading to alertness, reduces people’s perception of sweetness, which could cause them to crave such flavors more.
Professor Dando said: ‘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.’
The result further showed the participants reported the same degree of alertness regardless of whether they had the caffeinated drink or not, which the researchers believe demonstrates coffee’s placebo effect.
Professor Dando said: ‘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.’
The findings were published in the Journal of Food Science.