We’re always looking for ways to lose those few extra pounds. We’ve all experienced it, there always seems to be some excess weight that simply won’t budge. In 2020, it was difficult enough to exercise and stress was at an all-time high. Thus far, it doesn’t seem like 2021 is faring much better. We’ve just passed the festive season and are (finally) past January. You’ve been following your New Year’s resolutions. Going to the gym regularly and eating healthily but, what can you do about those extra couple of pounds? Well, green tea might be the answer to your prayers.
It’s widely acknowledged as one of the healthiest drinks available. Though it does contain caffeine, it’s also packed full of antioxidants and other plant-based compounds that are likely to be beneficial for health. Green tea hails from China and India and has long been known as one of the healthiest things to drink. It’s held in high regard by dieticians and doctors alike, but why? Tea is actually the second most widely consumed beverage after water. However, the majority of the tea consumed worldwide is black tea instead of green. Only about 20% of the tea consumed worldwide is green tea.
All tea, except for the herbal variety, is brewed from the dried leaves of “the Camellia sinensis bush”. It’s actually the level of oxidation that determines whether the tea is green or black. Green tea specifically is made using unoxidized leaves and is one of the least processed teas you can drink. It’s because of its unprocessed nature that it’s so healthy and rich in antioxidants. It is traditionally used in both Chinese and Indian medicine and has a wide variety of accepted benefits. It has yet to be used in western medicine, although it is becoming much more widely popular in the USA.
Green tea was traditionally used in Chinese and Indian medicine to control bleeding, heal wounds, aid digestion, improve mental health, improve heart health, and even regulate body temperature. Recent studies have shown that it could potentially have other benefits: including weight loss, liver disorders, type 2 diabetes, and might even be useful in treating Alzheimer’s. Many experts claim that green tea can increase your metabolism, boost fat burning and help with weight loss.
One of the major compounds in green tea is caffeine. However, a cup of green tea contains much less caffeine than your average cup of coffee. Even a small
amount of caffeine though is enough to have an effect. Caffeine is a stimulant that has long been known for its fat burning and weight loss benefits. Essentially, caffeine simply improves performance and thus, allows you to do more exercise without getting tired.
Although caffeine is a major player, it’s most highly regarded for its high antioxidant content. Studies have shown that drinking as little as a cup of green tea can substantially increase the number of antioxidants in the bloodstream. The most potent of these antioxidants are called ‘catechins’. The most important of these catechins (in terms of weight loss) is ‘epigallocatechin gallate’ which is also known as EGCG. This is a substance that boosts metabolism and activates weight loss.
Other benefits of drinking green tea include improved brain function, a lower risk of breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer, and reduced bad breath. Studies have also shown a link between green tea and the prevention of cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease and stroke.
In order to burn fat, the body first has to break it down. Once the fat cells have been broken down, they can move freely into the bloodstream where they can be used as energy for the body. Active compounds in green tea have been shown (in animal studies) to substantially boost the effects of fat-burning hormones. The main antioxidant, EGCG, aids in preventing the breakdown of the hormone norepinephrine. When norepinephrine levels increase, fat burning and breakdown are promoted. The caffeine and the EGCG likely work in harmony to boost energy and metabolism. Together, they work successfully to aid with weight loss.
It’s widely accepted that abdominal fat is the most dangerous of all the fat types. Though the effects of green tea on weight loss are not substantial, it does seem to have an effect. Many studies have shown weight loss as a result of green tea or the related supplement to be minimal. However, not all fat is created equal. For instance, subcutaneous fat sits under the skin whilst visceral fat surrounds the organs. Visceral fat is arguably much more dangerous and can lead to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, and heart disease. Studies seem to show that the fat that green tea catechins target is the more dangerous visceral fat. So, even though the weight loss associated with green tea is seemingly minimal, the loss of visceral fat is significant.
The bottom line is that, as with anything, green tea is not a miracle cure. The associated weight loss is minimal, but it could help target the more dangerous visceral fat that is generally held around the belly. It’s likely that drinking green tea on a regular basis will lead to a healthier lifestyle. If you really want the benefits of green tea, it’s likely that a supplement will be far more useful than simply drinking the tea. So, the short answer is yes, it’ll likely be a great addition to your healthy lifestyle and the advantages seem to far outweigh the disadvantages.