It’s widely known that green tea is healthy. It contains powerful antioxidants (polyphenols) which are responsible for a broad range of positive effects. One powerful antioxidant present in tea is ECGC (Epigallocatechin gallate).
Weight Loss Benefits of Green Tea
Various studies have demonstrated ECGC to have potent health benefits. One particular benefit is that it helps with weight loss. Green tea, but especially ECGC,
- regulates body temperature and blood sugar,
- promotes digestion,
- stimulates the oxidation of fat,
- and speeds up metabolism.
These dietary benefit are widely accepted and demonstrated by various clinical studies.
A study published in the December 1999 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition demonstrated that 90 mg of EGCG plus 50 mg of caffeine boosted metabolism.
Initially, criticizers of the ‘green-tea-helps-with-weight-loss-school’ fended these claims off by stating that the effects were due to the caffeine present in green tea. (green tea contains about one third of the amount of caffeine of a cop of coffee) Until scientists found that, apart from the caffeine, green tea (Camellia sinesis) has additional properties.
Another study published in the January 1, 2002 issue of Phytomedicine found that taking EGCG supplements might result in a weight loss of about 2.5 pounds per month.
According to some obesity experts there are only two over the counter supplements that may have safe body fat– and weight-loss potential. These are green tea extract, or more specifically EGCG, and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).
Green Tea, Antioxidants, and Caffeine
The fermentation process after the tea has been harvested decreases the antioxidant (polyphenol) content in the leaves. Green tea has the highest polyphenol content because it is not fermented as black tea is. According to some researchers these polyphenols (particularly the so called catechins) are responsible for the fat oxidizing action.
Why Decaffeinated / Caffeine-free supplements
Caffeine alone can be used successfully to suppress hunger but a much heard complaint about caffeine based supplements is that they make people feel nervous and shaky. The intake of excessive amounts of caffeine, either from coffee, green tea, or supplements may cause other unwanted side effects such as insomina, diarrhea, headaches, and irritability. Others report not being able to control their food intake after having stopped with taking caffeine. This is probably due to the fact that they aren’t used to feeling hungry anymore.
Here’s an example of Decaffeinated Green Tea Extract Capsules available on Amazon.
ECGC Green Tea Extract Supplements
Several studies have been done on the effects of green tea and its antioxidants on weight loss. The concentrations of EGCG used in the studies could not be reached by drinking green tea. The average cup of green tea contains between 50 – 150 mg polyphenols whereas decaffeinated green tea products contain concentrated polyphenols.
Other experts have a different view. So has George Blackburn, M.D., an obesity specialist at Harvard Medical School.
“The amounts found in EGCG and CLA supplements vary and some may not be effective.”
He therefore suggests getting these compounds through food by including green tea to your daily diet. Of course if you are sensitive to caffeine this would not be an ideal solution.
Most green tea dietary supplements are sold as dried leaf tea in capsule form. Standardized extracts of green tea are preferred. Liquid extracts made from the leaves and leaf buds are also available.
One more study demonstrating the fat burning / weight loss benefits of green tea extract:
Efficacy of a green tea extract rich in catechin polyphenols and caffeine in increasing 24-h energy expenditure and fat oxidation in humans1,2,3
Conclusions: Green tea has thermogenic properties and promotes fat oxidation beyond that explained by its caffeine content per se. The green tea extract may play a role in the control of body composition via sympathetic activation of thermogenesis, fat oxidation, or both. Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
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