Can Green Tea really help you lose weight?
Weight loss is often reported as a potential health benefits of green tea, but what is the science behind it? We delve down to really understand how this works in your body, how much and even when to drink matcha to get the best effect….
There are two elements to green tea, caffeine and catechins that have shown benefits in terms of fat burning and overall weight loss. Catechins are a group of plant flavonoids, one type in particular, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCg), is found in abundance in green tea. EGCg is where most of the research has been done in terms of green tea’s potential as a weight loss aide.
Caffeine’s main benefit in terms of weigh loss is that it has a thermogenic effect on the body. Thermogenesis is a metabolic process during which your body burns calories to produce heat. Thermogenesis can promote weight loss because it increases your body's calorie burn. Caffeine (more than 300mg per day) has been shown to reduce the amount of leptin, esp. in women1, whilst this is your satiation hormone, which would indicate lower levels might make you hungrier. Actually, as people put on weight often develop high levels of leptin due to leptin resistance. Leptin is produced in fat cells, so lower levels, indicate fewer fat cells. Caffeine has also been shown to enhance fat burning and performance during exercise2 So if you have your caffeine fix before you workout you are likely to get a triple whammy benefit in terms of fat burn.
There is a down side though, to caffeine, it also stimulates release of cortisol, a stress hormone. If you are chronically stressed, emotionally or physically this can have a negative affect on the body including hording of fat especially around the belly, as well as poor sleep, cravings, fatigue etc. Green tea is a preferable method to consume caffeine as also contains a calming amino acid called L-Theanine, which calms and works against any stress response.
EGCg, is the other major factor in terms of green teas weight loss potential. A recent study3 by Anglia Ruskin University, gave green tea extract with the caffeine removed, to test EGCg individual potential. The results showed that the green tea extract group reduced their body fat by 1.63 per cent, compared with those in the placebo group. Meanwhile fat oxidation rates increased by 25 per cent. This is important because fat oxidation aides weight loss.
Also the 14 volunteers were asked to cycle for one hour, three times a week. Those taking the capsule noted their performance increased by 10.9 per cent over a four-week period, increasing the distance they covered from an average of 20.2km to 22.4km.
One issue sited with this study was the number of the cups of green tea, 6 or 7, needed to get the recommended dose of 400mg of ECGg. However, matcha being the whole plant contains higher levels of ECGg. 1g matcha contains approx. 61mg. I use ½ tsp or approx. 3g in my matcha latte, so it contains approx. 183mg EGCg. So you do the math….2 cups of matcha or if you are more sensitive to caffeine, 1 matcha with 3 cups of decaffeinated green tea would easily get the amount you need.
One of the most interesting things about green tea and its effect on weight loss, is that studies1,4 show the combined effect of caffeine and EGCg is greater than the sum of its parts. Meaning the weight loss potential from consuming the plant are much greater than consuming other caffeine beverages or decaffeinated green tea extract.
As with everything there is variations to the benefit green tea can have. The potential may be affected by a number of factors including your current weight, your current caffeine intake and ethnicity. If you have a low caffeine intake to begin with and are of Asian not Caucasian ethnicity, then the results are likely to be the most pronounced.
Practically drinking 2 cups of matcha day definitely has potential to help you lose weight and maintain it, not to mention all the other health benefits it confers. For me it’s a no-brainer!
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