If you’ve been part of the dieting world for any amount of time, or are joining the dieting world as a newbie, you have undoubtedly come across sham after sham after sham. Fad diets and gimmicks never cease to amaze me: from cabbage soup to chewing gum, the list goes on and on. While some of them are quite sound in structure, others are very unreliable and not at all realistic. Tea is one of those in-between weight loss substances because the research makes sense, but the drink is certainly not magic. It can be beneficial in other facets of life—protective against cancer and some diseases, prevents wrinkles, promotes healthy skin, fights aging, enhances mental focus, and boosts the immune system—and has been used in this manner for centuries in China and Japan. As if that isn’t enough, some teas have been shown that these benefits can go so far as to aid in weight loss.
Teas for Weight Loss
Black tea, oolong tea, and green tea are all healthy tea choices. However, the most popular tea for weight loss is green tea or green tea extract because the leaves are not fermented before steaming and drying, meaning they are more in their natural state at the time of consumption.
Green Tea as a Fat Burner
When fat, typically from meats and dairy products, is taken in through the diet, it eventually makes its way to the liver to be processed into essential fatty acids called triglycerides. These fatty acids are very high energy, and consequently, they are necessary for and used as an energy source by the cells in the body to function properly. Once the liver has made the triglycerides that it needs for the bodily cells, it transports it through the bloodstream for delivery. Problems arise only when there are excess levels of triglycerides (a.k.a. taking in too much fat in the diet). Now, since the extra triglycerides aren’t needed for the cell’s activities, they are stored as fat, leading to weight gain. So where does green tea fit into this equation? Well, green tea has special polyphenols called catechins that have a positive effect on body fat accumulation and cholesterol levels. Epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, is a very powerful antioxidant present in green tea. Besides the fact that antioxidants alone can protect health because of their free-radical-fighting properties, this specific one is the catechin that aids in fat loss.
Green Tea as a Metabolic Stimulant
Green tea naturally boosts metabolism after is it consumed. The higher the rate of metabolism, the more calories that will be burned; this will assist in weight loss over time. This property, combined with the caffeine in the green tea, work together to stimulate brain activity and metabolic function.
Green Tea as a Glucose Regulator
Green tea has been shown to slow the movement of glucose into and out of the blood and cells; more specifically, fat cells. Therefore, it helps to not create a sugar spike in blood levels. This in itself prevents the abnormal levels of insulin that would come with this, and the subsequent storage of fat in the body.
Green Tea as an Appetite Suppressant
Because green tea has been shown to help regulate blood glucose levels, it can also help manage the appetite. If sugar is moving at a constant rate into and out of the cells, this will prevent massive hunger pangs, and therefore, overeating.
How Much Green Tea do I Need to Drink?
Research so far shows that 3-5 cups of green tea will provide these benefits. Since the caffeine content may be rather bothersome for some folks, it may be more realistic to take some green tea extract or green tea pills. If you have any other questions about using green tea to aid in weight loss, talk with a Registered Dietitian or your healthcare provider.