Does The Yellow Pill Really Work?

I started taking the yellow pill a few months ago and have been on it diligently ever since. My husband and I both take the pill in the morning; he takes it first and then has his coffee, and I take mine first and then have my oatmeal. On some days, I’ll have a decaf coffee while he has a regular coffee. We both enjoy our daily coffee doses in the morning, but we’re wondering if this is really the best time of day to consume caffeine.

So, does the yellow pill work? Is there any evidence that it aids in weight loss, helps with brain function, or provides any other benefits? Let’s take a look.

The Evidence

There are countless published studies on caffeine and its effects on health. Most of the research focuses on the benefits of caffeine for cognitive function, especially in areas involving memory and attention. However, there have also been studies that suggest caffeine may help to prevent weight gain and even aid in weight loss. Because of this, it’s perhaps not such a surprise that my husband and I are both interested in trying the yellow pill. It would be beneficial to know if there is any scientific evidence to support these claims.

The Research Summary

The caffeine in the yellow pill comes from naturally produced compounds known as methylxanthines. Methylxanthines are present in many foods, such as chocolate, peanuts, and strawberries, and are also found in some supplements, such as ginseng and green tea. A few studies suggest that consuming methylxanthines may have some positive effects on cognitive function, including memory and attention. However, most of the research shows that methylxanthines, particularly caffeine, can improve mental performance and maintain and even increase alertness. This is likely because methylxanthines act as natural stimulants, increasing cerebral blood flow and nerve sensitivity. In addition, since caffeine is both fat- and water-soluble, it can be easily absorbed by the body and is therefore more likely to have an effect on the user than other methylxanthines, such as Theobromine or Theophylline.

There is some evidence to suggest that methylxanthines, and especially caffeine, may help to prevent weight gain. In a 2014 study, participants were randomized to one of three groups: A group that consumed 300 mg of caffeine daily, a group that consumed 150 mg of caffeine daily, or a placebo group that consumed no caffeine. After 16 weeks, the group that consumed 300 mg of caffeine daily had significantly fewer weight gain inches than the placebo group (1.7 vs. 4.3 inches, respectively). As well, the group that consumed 150 mg of caffeine daily had less weight gain than the placebo group, but the difference was not significant (3.1 vs. 4.3 inches, respectively). So, it would appear that both doses of caffeine prevented weight gain in the study, but only the higher dose was effective in maintaining normal weight.

The Bottom Line

Based on the evidence to date, it would appear that caffeine, when consumed at appropriate levels, may have some utility in preventing weight gain and even aiding in weight loss. In addition, there is some conflicting evidence suggesting it may improve cognitive function, particularly in areas involving memory and attention. Because the FDA recently approved a supplement containing caffeine, known as Advantra Zymolum, for the purpose of improving brain function (particularly in areas involving attention and focus), it may be worthwhile to try the yellow pill as a source of caffeine in the morning.