I am a big fan of green tea not only because it tastes good, but also
because of the supposed health benefits.
Some research has also shown that green tea extracts can help weight
loss. However, most of the research that has been done is limited at
best, and inconclusive at worst.
Weight loss effects are thought to be due to green tea increasing metabolic rate. If the basal metabolic rate increases, the amount of energy burned also increases. Therefore, all things being equal,
taking caffeine should help you to achieve a negative energy balance, and hence lose weight.
The evidence suggests that green tea can - in the short term - reduce body weight.
One large review looked at 14 randomised controlled trials (RCTs) which aimed to answer the question whether green tea preparations were effective and safe for weight loss and weight maintenance in overweight and obese adults.
Weight loss varied between half a pound and seven and a half pounds across the studies. Changes in waist circumference were even more modest - average change was minus 0.2cm! Waist to hip ratio did not alter significantly. The study did not look at other markers of improved health.
It is possible that the green tea made some overall beneficial change to health independent of these changes. But further research would be needed to look into this.
Two of the studies looked at how effective green tea was at maintaining weight loss. Over 180 participants were included. Weight loss ranges were between 1 and 3 pounds. A range of waist
circumference changes were recorded as a gain of 0.3cm to a loss of 1.7 cm.
What this research showed was that the weight loss was small, and I am sure you would not be impressed even if you lost the maximum observed in this research.
What is in the green tea than helps weight loss? Caffeine and another naturally occuring substance in the green tea called catechins.
What are catechins? Catechins are substances found in certain fruits, vegetables and wines as well as tea, some cocoa and chocolate. The chemical family which they belong to is called flavanols.
Verdict: Green tea and weight loss - more myth than weight loss panacea. However, I will still be drinking it (WITHOUT sugar or milk, mind you!)
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