INDIANAPOLIS - Green coffee bean extract may be one of the hottest sellers at health food stores right now, but dieticians aren't so sure about its weight loss claims.
Green coffee beans are said to give a power-packed jolt, since roasting the beans strips them of their caffeine perks. But instead of green java in a cup, many are turning to green coffee in a pill.
The extract, which contains chlorogenic acid, is said to stimulate the metabolism and keep the body from turning sugar into fat.
"We're a very busy society where we're always on the go and eating quick, and we also have this thing that we have to live up to where we're thin, and happy and beautiful," said Rudy Nehrling, who runs Good Earth Natural Foods. "So they can kick you up a notch. They can speed up that metabolism. They can slow the glucose levels. They can slow the fat absorption. They can help a little bit."
Nehrling said after green bean coffee extract generated buzz on national talk shows, it quickly became one of his shop's top sellers.
Laura Dean, a dietician with Indiana University Health, said she also did some digging when her clients began to ask about the extract. She remains skeptical.
"There just wasn't enough viable research, enough substantiated studies done, to say, 'Yes this is something my patients should be using,' so I told them no," Dean said.
Sally Hallingstad said she tried the pills after her aunt lost 17 pounds in a matter of months. So far, she's lost a half an inch around her waist.
"I lost two pounds, which is great," she said. "The one thing that this pill said was that you didn't have to change your diet or exercise habits, that you should be able to take it and still lose weight, which seemed to work, because I did throw a trip to Vegas in there, and who knows how many pounds that added on."
Still, dieticians and even those selling the extract stress that those looking to lose weight can't go wrong with the tried and true formula of burning more calories than they take in.
"You have to think, there's always that idea behind it's not just what you're taking, it's also what you're doing," Nehrling said.
Experts say those sensitive to caffeine should use caution when taking the extract. A month's supply of the pills can cost $30 and up.