I love green tea, as a matter of fact I love all tea. I even wrote a article about the health benefits of tea. So while I’d love to believe all the hype about green tea and losing fat and would love to find pleasure in all the articles that talk about green tea and fat loss, I have to be a little weary of some of those claims.
Just The Facts
Here’s some bullet points about what we know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, to be true about green tea. It might have nothing to do with its fat loss effects but it has a lot to do with overall health.
- Green tea is a very potent anti-oxidant.
- Numerous anicent eastern countries believed in the healing power of green tea. One emperor (the name escapes me) even referred to green tea as being “heaven sent”.
- Green tea has been shown in research to help decrease joint pain
- Green teas has been proven to reduce inflammation in the body
- The polyphenols found in high amounts in green tea have been shown in research to slow or prevent cancerous tumor growth in the lungs, prostrate and colon.
- Green tea acts as a natural mouthwash preventing cavities.
- Theanine, a amino acid found in green tea, has been proven to have a relaxing effect on the body which is helpful for reducing stress.
- Green tea, due to its EGCG content, is helpful for reducing high estrogen in the body.
Fat Burning Studies
Most of the buzz around green tea and fat loss started around the time that the American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition published a report stating that subjects who were given 690 mg’s of the catechins found in green tea over 12 weeks reported lower waist circumferences, skinfold thickness, subcutaneous fat area and total fat area (1).
The researchers speculated that the results were caused by an increase in catechins which raises the metabolism boasting, fatty acid mobilizing and glycogen releasing hormone known as norepinephrine.
Research has also shown that green tea when combined with caffeine increase the bodies use of calories for energy as well as the resting metabolic rate (2,3).
This sent the fitness and bodybuilding world into the mass notion that green tea burns fat.
Now I’m not trying to be that guy that questions everything and say (please read this part in a stuck up, nerdy voice).
“Well the research shows…..”
But I think we need to take a step back and look at everything that we’ve presented so far.
Green tea is healthy.
Research shows that green tea can help you lose fat.
A few points..
- The first study mentioned was done on very overweight, almost to the point of obese individuals. So that needs to be taken with a grain of salt. They’ll lose fat moving around and just exercising. That’s the issue with the majority of university studies.
- The second and third studies mentioned were never able to determine if caffeine (a very powerful fat loss supplement) alone was the cause of the increased calorie burning and improved resting metabolic rate or if it was caffeine and green tea together. I think it was more of the caffeine.
- The amount given in the first study was 690 mg’s of catechins. One cup of green tea contains about 100 mg’s of catechins. You’d have to roughly take in 7 cups of green tea a day to see this effect.
The Final Word
A study done, that I won’t mention, showed that subjects absorbed more of the polyphenols of green tea when taken in a pill. I won’t mention the study because the chances of it being funded by a very popular supplement company are better than great. When that happens, results get skewed.
So maybe you’re thinking that you can take a green tea pill and drink 2-3 cups per day. Listen, that’s a fine idea and you certainly won’t be doing your health any damage. I’ve just personally never looked into doing that, green tea pills aren’t expensive but if you already have a impressive supplement cabinet like I do then you don’t want to add anything extra.
Can green tea help you lose fat? The answer is yes and no. No when you look at what the majority of supplement companies tell you (they quote the same research I did). Yes when you factor in that it helps reduce inflammation (you’ll be able to train harder and longer), it decreases free radicals in the body (you’ll recover quicker) and it helps to decrease estrogen in the body (both men and women need this to lose stubborn bodyfat).
So green tea is powerful and it will help you but it’s not the big gun of your supplement arsenal or diet plan. Drink it 2-4 times per day, maybe take some green tea pills but please realize that green tea will only make a difference in your fat loss as part of the whole plan of attack.
- Nagao, T., et al. (2005). Am J Clin Nutr 81(1): 122.
- Dulloo, A., et al. (1999). Am J Clin Nutr 70(6): 1040.
- Berube-Parent, S., et al.Br J Nutr 94(3):432.
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