Take a look at most of the weight loss supplements available on the market and you’ll often see green tea listed on the ingredients. It’s gained huge popularity as an all-round health elixir in recent years, as well as being touted to burn fat and help aid with weight loss.
Green tea origin
All tea comes from the same plant, with the five different types of tea being determined by the amount of time the leaves are exposed to air, also known as oxidation, resulting in either white, oolong, green, black or pu-erh tea. Green tea is produced from the green leaves before any oxidation occurs.
According to data from the Nutrition Business Journal, consumers spent around $140 million on green tea supplements in 2015. Tea is the second most consumed drink worldwide, preceded only by water and green tea is one of the most popular of the teas.
Is it all it’s cracked up to be? Is there substance behind the claims that green tea can help shed those extra pounds? Let’s dig a little deeper and find out.
Green tea and human metabolism
The processes that allow the body to convert food and drink into usable energy are collectively known as metabolism. Green tea may be beneficial for weight loss by helping the body’s metabolism to be more efficient. It has shown to have a positive effect on fat oxidation, meaning it increases metabolism so you burn more calories. The effect of this is most likely due to a combination of the caffeine and catechins found in green tea, which appear to work together synergistically.
What are catechins?
Catechins are powerful antioxidant compounds. One type of catechin in particular, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), is the most researched in terms of green tea’s potential weight loss benefits. To burn fat, your body has to break the fat down and it is then moved into the bloodstream. Studies suggest that the EGCG in green tea can aid this process by increasing the effect of a hormone in the body which is used by the nervous system to signal fat cells to break down fat. EGCG has also shown to inhibit the enzyme that breaks this hormone down, potentially resulting in increased fat breakdown.
As well as the catechin content, green tea is also a source of caffeine which helps your body burn both calories and fat. Thermogenesis is a metabolic process during which your body burns calories to produce heat and it can promote weight loss as it increases your body’s calorie burn and caffeine has shown to burn 9 extra calories for every 100mg of caffeine drunk. The caffeine content of green tea is much less than a cup of coffee but it still contains enough to have a mild effect. It’s worth noting that individual response to caffeine is exactly that – individual - with people responding to it differently. Caffeine can stimulate the release of a stress hormone, cortisol. If you are chronically stressed and knocking back six cups of coffee a day, this can cause problems and result in poor sleep, cravings and fatigue. Green tea makes a great alternative as although it contains caffeine, it also contains a calming amino acid called L-theanine which helps to combat the negative symptoms that may be induced by caffeine and induce relaxation without any drowsiness.
Any red lights?
Now this all sounds really positive, right? Fat-breakdown, metabolism boosting and promoting alertness whilst bringing balance to mind and body. However, it’s important to note that majority of the studies undertaken are using green tea extract. So whilst the compounds found in your green tea may have a small impact on weight loss, they aren’t a magic pill. Green tea can happily be included as part of a healthy diet as it has found to have a variety of other health supportive properties, but significant weight loss is unlikely to be seen unless other dietary and lifestyle change are made as well.
Green tea is generally considered safe to consume but do take care as large doses of caffeine can cause problems for those at risk of heart problems or with high blood pressure.