Coffee and tea could help you stay slim over Christmas

As you tuck into the ham, roast potatoes and buckets of chocolate cookies this Christmas, consider knocking back a few cups of coffee too.

New research out of the US has found caffeine can "offset some of the negative effects of an obesogenic diet by reducing the storage of lipids in fat cells and limiting weight gain and the production of triglycerides".

In other words, it could stop you piling on the pounds that normally come with fat and sugar. It works in rats, at least.

Scientists at the University of Illinois fed rats a diet high in carbs and fat for four weeks, letting some of them also have coffee and mate tea, a caffeinated drink popular in Latin America.

The rats getting the caffeine equivalent of four cups of coffee a day gained 16 percent less weight and 22 percent less body fat. 

"Considering the findings, mate tea and caffeine can be considered anti-obesity agents," said co-author Elvira Gonzalez. 

"The results of this research could be scaled to humans to understand the roles of mate tea and caffeine as potential strategies to prevent overweight and obesity, as well as the subsequent metabolic disorders associated with these conditions."

If coffee and tea aren't your thing, there's good news too - it didn't seem to matter where the caffeine came from - or if it was natural or synthetic, such as that found in sugary energy drinks like Red Bull.

"Regardless of its source, caffeine decreased the accumulation of lipids," Gonzalez said. 

"The consumption of caffeine from mate or from other sources alleviated the negative impact of a high-fat, high-sucrose diet on body composition."

The findings were published in the Journal of Functional Foods on Friday.

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