Caffeine enhances activity thermogenesis and energy expenditure in rats

Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 2019 May;46(5):475-482. doi: 10.1111/1440-1681.13065. Epub 2019 Feb 14.


Caffeine and its derivatives have been used, alone and in combination with other phytochemicals, as weight-loss supplements. Caffeine affects several physiological and behavioural aspects of energy balance, including increasing locomotor activity. This study investigates the potential for caffeine to enhance activity thermogenesis and energy expenditure (EE) even when activity level is held constant. To do this, EE and muscle thermogenesis were measured in rats during treadmill walking regimens, with and without caffeine (25 mg/kg, ip). Activity-related EE was significantly increased throughout the treadmill walking protocol. Muscle heat dissipation, on the other hand, was significantly increased by caffeine only at the end of the 25-minute treadmill test. This study demonstrates that caffeine increases the caloric cost of physical activity, compared to the caloric cost of that same physical activity without caffeine, implicating decreased muscle work efficiency. Combined with the known ability of caffeine to increase locomotor activity, the decreased locomotor efficiency imparted by caffeine may further augment the potential for caffeine to enhance caloric expenditure.

Keywords: energy expenditure; non-exercise activity thermogenesis; physical activity; skeletal muscle; thermogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue, Brown / drug effects
  • Adipose Tissue, Brown / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Caffeine / pharmacology*
  • Energy Metabolism / drug effects*
  • Rats
  • Respiration / drug effects
  • Thermogenesis / drug effects*
  • Walking


  • Caffeine