An Official Response To Our Green Coffee Bean Extract Review

An Official Response To Our Green Coffee Bean Extract Review

Our green coffee/chlorogenic acid review (which was featured on a recent segment of the Dr. Oz show, and highly recommended by Oz’s expert, naturopathic doctor Lindsey Duncan) seems to have some ruffled some feathers over at Genesis Today. Genesis Today’s CEO and lead product formulator is the aforementioned Duncan (aka “Dr. Lindsey”), whom we took to task for his overly enthusiastic assessment of green coffee’s weight loss effects.

As a result, I received (on May 24, 2012) this email from a Genesis Today staff member…

I’m sorry you feel this way about Dr. Lindsey and his appearance on The Dr. Oz Show (http://articles.ultimatefatburner.com/dr-oz-green-coffee-bean-extract.html) . I would like to better understand why you are spinning the story so harshly against Dr. Lindsey who simply brought this incredible study to public attention. Please let us know if we can possibly address your concerns as Dr. Lindsey was only presenting the facts, and please keep in mind that these TV segments are edited down.

First of all, there are many people who are losing weight thanks to Green Coffee! Here is a Facebook group with women who have seen great success: http://www.facebook.com/groups/326832767388544/. Dr. Lindsey is in no way associated with the group. Additionally, he has been receiving tons of emails and Facebook messages from men and women who are losing weight! You can even check out his facebook fan page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dr-Lindsey-Duncan/157797744265721 where he is getting plenty of positive messages.

Second, regarding Chlorogenic Acid, when you roast coffee the Chlorogenic Acids are transformed and there is less Chlorogenic Acid in the coffee after roasting. Dr. Lindsey’s point is that you won’t see the same effect from roasted coffee due to the roasting – this is true and has been shown.

Next, regarding Dr. Lindsey’s blog – the fact is, they did only supplement for 12 weeks. The study was 22 weeks. They only took green coffee for 12 weeks. If it would make you feel better for us to add in parenthesis that the study was performed over the course of 22 weeks, we will gladly do so!

Regarding diet, Dr. Lindsey was simply reporting on what is stated in the study, which is that there were no significant changes in diet. Regarding the calorie consumption and expenditure, this was reported by CBS News based on information from the researchers before Dr. Lindsey ever went on the Dr. Oz Show (see story here: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-57405840-10391704/green-coffee-beans-may-lead-to-weight-loss-study-shows/).

I understand your frustration with some of the products or some of the herbs that are seen on Dr. Oz and their efficacy, but Dr. Lindsey is very careful about what he brings to the public light – and just because there might be holes in the study that you want to attack, Dr. Lindsey shouldn’t necessarily be the brunt of your attack. As they say, don’t kill the messenger 🙂

Additionally, if you feel strongly against the study and its findings, then it is strange that you would recommend a product that was made by the same company who sponsored the study.

The truth is, Dr. Lindsey has seen great results with Green Coffee extract, he didn’t just start using it when everyone jumped on the bandwagon – he has been studying Chlorogenic Acid in his practice for years. If there is anything that he or we can do to set the record straight, please let us know. We aren’t asking you to recommend our product or remove your recommendation for our competitor, we are asking you to be kind and back off on your personal attack against Dr. Lindsey, a man who has spent his entire life helping people be healthier. Thanks for listening and I look forward to hearing from you!

Let’s go through the email and see if we can’t clarify things for the folks at Genesis Today…

“I’m sorry you feel this way about Dr. Lindsey and his appearance on The Dr. Oz Show (http://articles.ultimatefatburner.com/dr-oz-green-coffee-bean-extract.html).”

“Feel” what way? The article wasn’t about our “feelings” – it was about facts. Dr. Oz commands a huge audience, and many viewers trust him implicitly – and, by extension, the people he presents as experts.

Unfortunately, many of Dr. Oz’s peers feel that he has been less than responsible in his on-air presentation of practitioners, therapies and supplements that are loosely grouped under the label “Complementary and Alternative Medicine” (CAM) (See, for example: http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/dr-oz-promotes-homeopathy/ ). For the most part, we agree with the objections various medical professionals have raised. Thus, it’s prudent to take a skeptical, cautionary approach to CAM-related products that are promoted on Dr. Oz’s show.

“I would like to better understand why you are spinning the story so harshly against Dr. Lindsey…”

If we have reported anything Dr. Lindsey has said that is in error, please point this out, we would be happy to correct the record. We strongly disagree, however, with your characterization of our discussion as “spinning.” What we did is compare certain statements Dr. Lindsey said/wrote against the facts as we found them. How is this “spinning” the story “against” Dr. Lindsey? It is part of the process of holding any authority figure accountable for his/her public statements.

“… who simply brought this incredible study to public attention. Please let us know if we can possibly address your concerns as Dr. Lindsey was only presenting the facts, and please keep in mind that these TV segments are edited down.”

If something we wrote is based on a misunderstanding due to the editing, once again, please bring this to our attention—we would be happy to make a correction. Certainly, we cannot report on things neither we, nor the general public, have seen.

“First of all, there are many people who are losing weight thanks to Green Coffee!  Here is a Facebook group with women who have seen great success: http://www.facebook.com/groups/326832767388544/. Dr. Lindsey is in no way associated with the group.  Additionally, he has been receiving tons of emails and Facebook messages from men and women who are losing weight! You can even check out his facebook fan page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dr-Lindsey-Duncan/157797744265721 where he is getting plenty of positive message.”

As the saying goes, “the plural of anecdote is not data.” Certainly, it’s a starting point for further investigation, but that is not what your links represent. Certainly, anecdotes can be starting points for further investigation, but – by themselves – prove little.

A figure no less than the “Father of Nutraceuticals,” Dr. Stephen de Felice, recently took the dietary supplement industry to task for its failure to implement more rigorous, “pharma-style” research. To quote Dr. de Felice: “Placebo is a huge positive thing with dietary supplements… If they don’t work at all, you will have a huge placebo response.” (http://www.nutraingredients.com/Industry/The-father-of-nutraceuticals-The-placebo-effect-is-real)

In our review, we certainly leave open the possibility that green coffee bean extract works! But in light of Dr. de Felice’s remarks, the existence of Facebook groups singing its praises means very little in terms of conclusive evidence. There is nothing in the existence of positive anecdotal reports on Facebook that excludes the placebo effect.

“Second, regarding Chlorogenic Acid, when you roast coffee the Chlorogenic Acids are transformed and there is less Chlorogenic Acid in the coffee after roasting. Dr. Lindsey’s point is that you won’t see the same effect from roasted coffee due to the roasting – this is true and has been shown.”

If Dr. Lindsey meant “less” he should have said/written “less” or “reduced.” The term he used was “remove[d].”

For the record, we are unaware of any study demonstrating that coffee “has been shown” to not produce “the same effect.” For example, this recent (2011) review of green coffee extract states:

“The daily intake of CGA in persons drinking coffee varies from 0.5 to 1g [4]. The traditional method of extraction of GCE from green coffee bean, Coffea canephora robusta, involves the use of alcohol as a solvent [5]. Extracted GCE is marketed as a weight loss supplement under a variety of brand names as a weight loss supplement such as “Coffee Slender”, and “Svetol”.

Evidence is accumulating from animal studies regarding the use of GCE as a weight loss supplement [6, 7]. In human subjects, coffee intake has been reported to be inversely associated with weight gain [8]. Consumption of coffee has also been shown to produce changes in several glycaemic markers in older adults [9].

Similarly, other research has indicated that the consumption of caffeinated coffee can lead to some reductions in long-term weight gain, an effect which is likely to be due to the known thermogenic effects of caffeine intake as well as effects of GCE and other pharmacologically active substances present in coffee [10].” ( http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2943088/pdf/GRP2011-382852.pdf ).”

There is no hint in this very comprehensive review that any systematic weight loss studies have actually been done on regular ol’ coffee. If you have any reliable, peer-reviewed information to the contrary, we’d love to see it. We’re certainly not claiming that brewed coffee consumption can result in weight loss… but we’ve seen no data to prove that it cannot. It seems to us that at least one peer-reviewed, controlled study would be needed before we can say that this claim is “true” and “has been shown.”

“Next, regarding Dr. Lindsey’s blog – the fact is, they did only supplement for 12 weeks. The study was 22 weeks. They only took green coffee for 12 weeks. If it would make you feel better for us to add in parenthesis that the study was performed over the course of 22 weeks, we will gladly do so!”

As noted above, this isn’t about “feelings.” It’s about facts. When presenting study results to the public, making sure that the facts are clear should be a primary consideration for any responsible author – it’s a professional obligation. If the duration of the study is unclear in Dr. Lindsey’s write up (and it is), then this information should be included, regardless of whether this would make us “feel better” or not.

“Regarding diet, Dr. Lindsey was simply reporting on what is stated in the study, which is that there were no significant changes in diet.”

Actually what is written in the study is somewhat ambiguous. What it states is that there were “…no significant changes to diet over the course of the study” (emphasis ours). The bolded part of the sentence is important – it’s a statement about the study design. Given that there were three distinct treatment arms to be compared (not to mention washout periods), diet would need to be held constant (or as constant as possible) throughout the full 22 weeks for the comparison between treatments to be valid.

But this statement cannot be taken to mean that there was no change in diet between what the subjects typically ate before the study (presumably, the diet that made them fat in the first place), and what they ate during the study.

The reason we stress this point is simple: Dr. Lindsey’s statement, that people “…don’t need to exercise, and they don’t need to diet” is not supported by the study… or by the study’s lead author, Dr. Vinson, who stated:

“Based on our results, taking multiple capsules of green coffee extract a day—while eating a low-fat, healthful diet and exercising regularly—appears to be a safe, effective, inexpensive way to lose weight.” (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120327134209.htm)

(Emphasis ours). Hopefully, you can see the difference between Dr. Vinson’s qualified statement and Dr. Lindsey’s.

“Regarding the calorie consumption and expenditure, this was reported by CBS News based on information from the researchers before Dr. Lindsey ever went on the Dr. Oz Show (see story here: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-57405840-10391704/green-coffee-beans-may-lead-to-weight-loss-study-shows/).”

CBS News gets it wrong too. To conclude that the subjects “…had a calorie expenditure of 400 calories, nowhere near the levels required for weight loss” is inaccurate, since RMR (resting metabolic rate) has not been taken into account. It’s about total calories in vs. total calories out. This is one area where the study write-up is inadequate, as it does not reveal whether the subjects were in a calorie deficit or not.

Nonetheless, we can do a thought experiment, using a standardized calculation to estimate total daily calorie expenditure. Someone burning approximately 400 calories via exercise could easily be said to be “moderately active” (this is roughly equivalent to an hour of low-impact aerobics for someone in the 160 – 200 pound range) (see http://www.livestrong.com/article/356698-ways-to-burn-400-calories/ ).

Using this calculator ( http://www.exrx.net/Calculators/CalRequire.html ) for a hypothetical, 30 year old male who is 5′ 10″ (70”), weighs 170 pounds (i.e., an average male in this study), who spends 8 hours resting, 15 hours in very light activity and 1 hour of moderate activity, I came up with an estimated daily energy expenditure of 2686 total calories. If this individual consumed 2400 calories/day (as in the study), he would be in a small, but significant, calorie deficit (286 kcal/day) that – over 22 weeks – would be highly likely to lead to some weight loss.

That Dr. Lindsey would recycle CBS’s statement uncritically is quite surprising to us – it’s well-known (in research circles, at least) that media reports are frequently inaccurate ( http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090319102425.htm ).

“I understand your frustration with some of the products or some of the herbs that are seen on Dr. Oz and their efficacy, but Dr. Lindsey is very careful about what he brings to the public light – and just because there might be holes in the study that you want to attack, Dr. Lindsey shouldn’t necessarily be the brunt of your attack. As they say, don’t kill the messenger :)”

FYI: there is a serious disconnect in your statement above. How can Dr. Lindsey be “very careful about what he brings to public light” if there “might be” serious methodological holes in the very study that provides the basis for this introduction?

Trust us, if we wanted to “kill the messenger,” Dr. Lindsey provides plenty of ammunition that we could use—all of which is present in abundance on Genesis Today’s website. There’s plenty there for a true anti-CAM skeptic to critique! We didn’t go there, and intentionally so, since our purpose was not to “attack” or discredit Dr. Lindsey per se, but to critically review his statements about green coffee bean extract. He may be careful about what he brings to the public light, but he appears to be less so about how he does it.

“Additionally, if you feel strongly against the study and its findings, then it is strange that you would recommend a product that was made by the same company who sponsored the study.”

We don’t “feel strongly against the study.” As small, very preliminary studies go, it’s not bad. We do, however, “feel strongly” about “experts” who draw sweeping conclusions from small, preliminary studies, and use said studies to fuel consumer buying frenzies. In science, preliminary studies are promising. And positive results mean that the substances under scrutiny can be worth experimenting with. But responsible professionals DO NOT get in front of worldwide audiences and breathlessly tout small studies as conclusive and the studied substances as miracle workers.

This isn’t just professional modesty: the “decline effect” is well-known among those who do research for a living (for a readable discussion of this, see Professor P. Z. Myers here: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/12/30/science-is-not-dead/ ). Independent replication is the life and breath of the discipline.

This goes double when there is a clear conflict of interest involved, as there is with Dr. Lindsey’s marketing of his own green coffee bean extract.

Our review and product recommendation are perfectly aligned with the promising-but-not-conclusive evidence for green coffee bean extract as a weight loss aid and our mission as a consumer advocacy site. As noted in the text, if our readers are curious and inclined to experiment (nothing wrong with that!), the obvious thing to do is use the actual ingredient from the study that Dr. Lindsey highlighted, rather than a different one. We have no connection to Source Naturals – our recommendation was based solely on the source of its green coffee bean extract; the listed amount; and its (very competitive) price. If Genesis Today’s green coffee extract used GCA®, we would have happily included it in the recommendation – but insofar as we could ascertain from the label, it does not (odd, considering the “weight” Dr. Lindsey attributes to this study).

“The truth is, Dr. Lindsey has seen great results with Green Coffee extract, he didn’t just start using it when everyone jumped on the bandwagon – he has been studying Chlorogenic Acid in his practice for years.”

If this is true (and we’re quite willing to assume that it is), then Dr. Lindsey should compile and present his own data, and not rely solely on a preliminary, industry-funded study. As a clinical practitioner, he undoubtedly has patient records. If he has been “studying” chlorogenic acid, then surely he has the data compiled – at least informally? Is there a reason this data was left out of his blog post?

“If there is anything that he or we can do to set the record straight, please let us know. We aren’t asking you to recommend our product or remove your recommendation for our competitor, we are asking you to be kind and back off on your personal attack against Dr. Lindsey, a man who has spent his entire life helping people be healthier.”

Please point out where in our review where we have made any “personal attack” against Dr. Lindsey, or where we have actually been “unkind.” He is a public figure giving health advice to millions of people: as such, it is not “unkind” to scrutinize specific statements, and point out where they fall short or are otherwise incomplete. It’s admirable that Dr. Lindsey has “spent his entire [adult] life helping people be healthier” – but this doesn’t make him immune to critique (nor should it, given his visibility as one of Dr. Oz’s experts). No one is beyond criticism, however noble their intentions/actions may be.

One of us (Elissa) is a former research scientist from the University California at Davis and she can attest to just how blunt and “unkind” peer-reviewers in the “real world” of research can be. But that’s science, for you. It’s not personal: the point is to uphold the standards of scientific inquiry and evidence. This is something that Dr. Lindsey should understand, if he has the respect for science that he claims to hold.

Thanks for contacting us. We hope this clears up any misunderstandings.

Author: Paul

Paul Crane is the founder of UltimateFatBurner.com. His passions include supplements, working out, motorcycles, guitars... and of course, his German Shepherd dogs.

2 Comments

  1. i would love to see some proof that this green coffee works ,like you said show us your studies and the people that lost all this weight .Its a shame there are so many human beings that need to lose weight and they will do anything to lose it ,just be honest ,if it works show us ,even if it works a little ,im so tired of being ripped off ,I read every thing now about all these weight lose product ,I al most fell for this one as you can see I read your blog .thank you for all the great information it saved me lots of money

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  2. Thanks for this. I was almost sucked in by one of the purveyors of GCE and your info made me research further. I’m going to try the product made by Source Naturals as I’ve used their products in the past and trust them more than those I have no direct experience with. I need to lose weight and buying Source Naturals product won’t break the bank like some of the other more stridently hyped ones do. We’ll see how it does.

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