Product Review: Green Coffee Bean Extract Supplements for Weight Loss

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What It Is:

As the name implies, green coffee bean extract (or "green coffee extract") is an extract from raw, green coffee beans -- the same beans which are used to make coffee if roasted. The extract contains substantial amounts of polyphenolic antioxidants known as chlorogenic acids (CGAs) -- comprising as much as 50% of most extracts. It is these compounds which are believed to be important to the activity of green coffee extract in the body. The extract also naturally contains some caffeine -- up to about 4% of the extract.

What It Does:

The CGAs in green coffee bean extract appear to have a variety of effects, including a slight lowering blood of pressure (see the Encyclopedia article for more about this). However, it is best known for its ability to cause modest weight loss (See ConsumerLab.com Product Review of Weight Loss Supplements for information about other weight loss supplements). Several small, short-term studies (summarized below) using two different extracts, have been performed in overweight individuals. Most studies have been conducted with one of the following two branded green coffee extracts:

  • Svetol®, from Berkem/Naturex, is an extract made from decaffeinated green coffee beans. Svetol® contains 45% to 50% total CGAs (about one-third of which is the specific compound 5-caffeoylquinic acid (5-CGA), and less than 2% caffeine.
  • GCA®, from Applied Food Sciences Inc, contains 45.9% total chlorogenic acids and 2 to 4% caffeine.

All studies have shown modest, but statistically significant, weight loss (roughly 3 lbs per month), among people taking either extract -- often without changes in diet or additional exercise. However, in many studies, those receiving placebo also lost some weight (about 1 lb per month), so the additional weight loss from the extract appears to be about 2 lbs per month. The studies include the following:

  • 200 mg twice per day (400 mg per day) of extract (Svetol®) for 12 weeks showed a mean weight loss of 10.9 lbs (4.97 kg) vs. 5.4 lbs (2.45 kg) for placebo. Weight reduction was somewhat higher than in other studies as a bland, low-calorie diet given to both groups (Dellalibera, Phytotherapie 2007).
  • 200 mg daily of extract (Svetol®) added to instant coffee for 12 weeks showed a mean weight loss of 11.9 lbs (5.4 kg) vs. 3.7 lbs (1.69 kg) for placebo. (Thom, J Int Med Res 2007). Sugar (as glucose) was added to the coffee, but there was a 6.9% reduction in glucose absorption among those getting extract compared to those getting placebo.
  • 350 mg given two times per day (700 mg per day) or three times per day (1,050 mg per day) of extract (CGA®) for 6 weeks showed a mean weight loss of 3.4 lbs (1.54 kg) and 4.5 lbs (2.04 kg) and for the lower and higher doses, respectively, vs. 0.7 lb (0.32 kg) for placebo (Vinson, Diab, Met Synd and Obes, 2012). Statistically significant decreases in body mass index (BMI) occurred in both treatment groups, but not placebo. The study was done in such a way that each participant actually received, in different sequences, both types of treatment and placebo over a 22 week period (2 weeks between each treatment) over which time the total mean weight loss was 17.6 (8 kg).

In addition, a very short-term study conducted by The Dr. Oz Show in 2012 involved giving 100 women 400 mg of a proprietary green coffee extract three times daily (30 minutes before each meal) or placebo. There were no special changes in diet or exercise. Over the two-week period of the study, those taking the extract reported a 2 lb weight loss versus a 1 lb loss among those taking placebo. It is interesting that the participants lost in just two weeks about the same amount of weight lost per month in published studies. A possible explanation is that more weight loss occurs during the initial weeks of treatment.

How It Works

Exactly how green coffee extract may work is not known. However, there is some evidence that it inhibits an enzyme (hepatic glucose-6-phosphatase), reducing glucose production and glucose levels -- a potentially anti-diabetic effect (Henry-Vitac, J Ag Food Chem, 2010). This may force the body to use fats as energy, instead of glucose.

Quality Concerns and What CL Tested:

It is important that products contain the chlorogenic acids (CGAs) found in the types of green coffee bean extracts shown to work in clinical studies. As a manufacturer could potentially skimp on an ingredient or even add CGA compounds to a supplement without using actual green coffee extract, ConsumerLab.com purchased several supplements sold in the U.S. and analyzed their chemical constituents, checking for specific and total CGAs, as well as caffeine levels. These amounts were expected to meet claimed amounts and, in the case of total CGAs, a minimum expected content of 45%. Products were also checked for potential contamination with lead and cadmium, heavy metals which can contaminate botanical products. (See How Products Were Evaluated for more information about testing.)

What CL Found:

Among the eight supplements selected for testing by ConsumerLab.com, four did not contain expected amounts of CGAs -- ranging from no detectable CGAs to 81.2%:

  • Futurebiotics Green Coffee Bean Extract contained 81.2% of its claimed 200 mg of total CGAs per capsule (i.e., instead of total CGAs being 50% of the extract as claimed, it was 40.6%).
  • M?ritzMayer Laboratories Pure Super Green Coffee Bean Extract Double Strength contained only 13.8% of the minimum total CGAs expected by ConsumerLab.com (i.e., instead total CGAs being 45% of the extract, it was only 6.2%).
  • Nutri-Fusion Systems Green Coffee Bean Extract contained no detectable CGAs, including none of the listed 5-CQA (a type of CGA). It also had no detectable caffeine.
  • Pure Health Naturally Pure Green Coffee Bean contained only 64.4% of the minimum total CGAs expected by ConsumerLab.com (i.e., instead of total CGAs being 45% of the extract, it was only 28.9%).

Starbucks VIA Refreshers COOL LIME with Green Coffee Extract was also among the products selected for testing, although it is not a dietary supplement and does not list the actual amount of green coffee extract. We were curious to know what it delivers. We found that a half packet (the serving listed on the package) contained the equivalent of 180 mg of extract -- a sizable amount, and more than in some of the "supplements" listed above

Selecting a Quality-APPROVED Product

Three supplements passed testing as did another four tested through ConsumerLab.com's Voluntary Certification Program. These products suggested daily dosages ranging from 400 mg to 2,400 mg. Clinical studies have used approximately 200 mg to about 1,200 mg per day, and it's not at all clear that taking more than in this range is desirable. However, most dosages involve taking multiple capsules, so you can adjust the daily dosage.

In terms of cost, the most economical product was Vitacost Green Coffee Bean Extract 400 mg capsules at 20 cents per 400 mg. Several other APPROVED products were close in cost per 400 mg of extract: Paradise Herbs, Green Coffee Bean (23 cents), Life Extension Green Coffee Extract CoffeeGenic™ (24 cents -- and is made with GCA®), and Labrada Nutrition Green Coffee Bean Extract (27 cents) -- see the last column of the table below for more price comparisons. The two APPROVED products containing Svetol®, Vitamin World Green Coffee Bean Extract and Reserveage + Advanced Solutions Green Coffee Bean Extract w/Raspberry Ketones, were considerably more expensive than most products, costing, respectively, 83 cents and 98 cents per 400 mg of extract.

Test Results by Product:

Listed below are the test results for thirteen green coffee bean extract products. Nine products were selected for review by ConsumerLab.com and four products passed the same testing in the Voluntary Certification Program. If a product is listed as APPROVED, it was found to contain the labeled and expected amounts of compounds and did not exceed CL's stringent criteria for lead or cadmium contamination. The full list of ingredients and nutrients is available for each product by clicking on the word Ingredients in the first column. For more information about testing go to How Products Were Evaluated.

Product Name, Extract Per Unit, and Suggested Daily Serving on Label

Listed Amounts Per Daily Serving: Green Coffee Bean Extract (GCBE)

Total Chlorogenic Acids (CGAs)

(If Not Listed, Minimum (M) Expected Amount**)

5-Caffeoylquinic Acid (5-CQA)7

Listed Amount of Caffeine Per Daily Serving

NL=Not Listed

--TEST RESULTS--

Cost of Suggested Daily Serving on Label

[Cost per 400 mg GCBE**]

Notable Additional Ingredients & Features1

Price Paid

OVERALL RESULTS:

APPROVED
(Passed)
or
NOT APPROVED
(Failed)

Contained Expected Claimed and Minimum Amounts of Total CGAs** and, if Listed, 5-CQA Contained Claimed Amount of Caffeine Did Not Exceed Conta-mination Limits for Lead and Cadmium

Futurebiotics Green Coffee Bean Extract (400 mg per 1 vegetarian capsule, 1 per day)

Mfd. by Futurebiotics®

400 mg GCBE

200 mg total CGAs2

No more than 16 mg

NOT APPROVED

Found only 81.3% of claimed amount of total CGAs (Total CGAs was 40.6% of extract)

$0.33

[$0.33 based on amount claimed][$0.41 based on amount found]

100% Vegetarian, contains no wheat, gluten free, yeast free

$29.99/90 vegetarian capsules

Genesis Today Pure Green Coffee Bean (400 mg per vegetarian capsule, 2 per serving and up to 3 servings per day)

Dist. by Genesis Today, Inc.

800-2,400 mg GCBE per 2 capsules

360 mg to 1,080 mg (M) total CGAs

"Less caffeine than ½ cup of coffee" per 2 capsules (47.5 mg)4

APPROVED

$0.72 to $2.16

[$0.36]

$21.59/60 vegetarian capsules

Labrada Nutrition Green Coffee Bean Extract (525 mg per capsule, 2 per day)

Dist. by Labrada Nutrition

1,050 mg GCBE

472.5 mg total CGAs (M)

NL

APPROVED

Found 6.2 mg per serving (2 capsules)

$0.72

[$0.27]

$21.71/60 capsules

Life Extension Green Coffee Extract CoffeeGenic™ (400 mg per vegetarian capsule, 1-3 per day) *

Dist. by Quality Supplements and Vitamins, Inc.

400 to 1,200 mg GCBE (GCA®)

200 to 600 mg total CGAs2

12 to 24 mg

APPROVED

$0.24 to $0.72

[$0.24]

$21.15/90 vegetarian capsules

M?ritzMayer Laboratories Pure Super Green Coffee Bean Extract Double Strength (800 mg per vegetarian capsule, 2 per day)

Dist. by M?ritzMayer Laboratories

1,600 mg GCBE

720 mg total CGAs (M)

20 mg

NOT APPROVED

Found only 13.8% of expected amount of total CGAs
(Total CGAs was 6.2% of extract)

$0.69

[$0.17 based on amount expected]
[$1.23 based on amount found]

$20.55/60 vegetarian capsules

Nutri-Fusion Systems Green Coffee Bean Extract, 800mg (400 mg per vegetarian capsule, 2 per day)

Dist. by Nutri-Fusion Systems, Inc.

1,600 mg GCBE

720 mg total CGAs

160 mg 5-CQA

20 mg

NOT APPROVED

No CGAs and no 5-CQA found

No caffeine found

$0.62

[$0.31 based on amount claimed, but unable to calculate from amount found]

$18.70/60 vegetarian capsules

Paradise Herbs, Green Coffee Bean (400 mg per vegetarian capsule, 1 per day)

Dist. by Paradise Herbs & Essentials, Inc.

400 mg GCBE

200 mg total CGAs

"Less than 2%" (8 mg)

APPROVED

$0.23

[$0.23]

$13.68/60 vegetarian capsules

Pure Health Naturally Pure Green Coffee Bean (400 mg per vegetarian capsule, 2 per serving, up to 3 servings per day)

Dist. by Pure Health

800 to 2,400 mg GCBE

360 to 1,080 mg total CGAs (M)

NL

NOT APPROVED

Found only 64.2% of expected amount of total CGAs

(Total CGAs was 28.9% of extract)

Found 39.8 mg per 2 capsules

$0.43-$1.30

[$0.22 based on amount claimed] [$0.34 based on amount found]

$6.48/30 vegetarian capsules

Reserveage + Advanced Solutions Green Coffee Bean Extract w/Raspberry Ketones
(200 mg per vegetarian capsule, 2 per day)*

Dist. by Reserveage Organics

400 mg GCBE (Svetol®)

180 mg total CGAs

40 mg 5-CQA7

4mg

APPROVED

$0.98

[$0.98]

Raspberry Ketones

$29.39/60 vegetarian capsules

ResVitįle Green Coffee Bean Weight Loss Formula 400mg
(200 mg per vegetarian capsule, 2 per day)*

Dist. by ResVitįle

400 mg GCBE

200 mg total CGAs2

NL

APPROVED

Found 9.1 mg per 1 capsule

$0.67

[$0.67]

Contains no wheat, gluten free, yeast free

$24.99/75 vegetarian capsules

Starbucks VIA Refreshers COOL LIME with Green Coffee Extract
(Amount of extract per packet not listed, serving size 0.5 packet, no suggested number of servings per day)5

Dist. by Starbucks Coffee Company

Amount of extract not listed
NA

NL

NA

Found 81.4 mg of total CGAs per ½ packet, suggesting 180 mg of extract**

Found 35.0 mg per ½ packet serving

$0.605

[$1.33]

$5.95/5 packets

Vitacost Green Coffee Bean Extract 400 mg capsules
(400 mg per vegetarian capsule, 1 to 3 per day)

Dist. by Vitacost®

400 to 1,200 mg GCBE

200-600 mg total CGAs

NL

APPROVED

7.1 mg per capsule

$0.20 to $0.59

[$0.20]
Lowest cost for green coffee bean extract

Gluten free

$11.79/60 vegetarian capsules

Vitamin World Green Coffee Bean Extract
(133.3 mg per rapid release capsule, 3 per day) *

Dist. by Vitacost®

400 mg GCBE
(Svetol®)

180 mg total CGAs

24 mg

APPROVED

$0.83

[$0.83]

Yerba Mate Extract

Contains no wheat, gluten free, yeast free

$24.99/90 rapid release capsules