Saturday, March 10, 2007

Green Tea’s Weight Loss Magic – It’s Not The Caffeine

In recent years there has been a significant amount of attention given to green tea and its health benefits. Green tea has been shown to prevent cancer, heart disease, and reduce the signs of aging. And, more recently, studies have shown that it can be helpful in weight loss.



Green tea is a potent source of anti-oxidants. Anti-oxidants are important to our bodies because they fight the free radicals created as a by-product of digestion. These free radicals damage our cells and DNA, causing aging and disease. Therefore, a regular dose of anti-oxidants is beneficial to our health.



Many plant products contain anti-oxidants, including fruits and vegetables, cocoa, coffee, and tea. All forms of tea are good sources of anti-oxidants, but green tea is the most potent source, because the tea leaves are not fermented during the processing of green tea as they are during the production of black tea. This natural, unfermented tea leaf ensures that the important anti-oxidants, called catechins, are left in tact.



It is believed that these anti-oxidants are also an important contributor to green tea’s ability to help you lose weight. It has long been reported that green tea’s caffeine helps speed up metabolism, and may help you to lose weight.



However, what today’s research is showing is that it is not just the caffeine in green tea that helps with weight loss. Green tea’s anti-oxidants are also part of the equation. This helps explain why green tea is more beneficial to weight loss than other caffeinated beverages.



Several research studies have shown that green tea can do more than just speed up the metabolism. Green tea has also been shown to create thermogenesis, the fat burning process. In addition, in some studies, it has also been shown to inhibit the absorption of dietary fat. This means that less of the fat you eat may turn into body fat.



One article of particular interest, reported on by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, discussed how green tea has the ability to increase the metabolism and boost daily energy expenditure in a greater fashion than just the caffeine content would suggest.



Two studies are discussed in this article. In the first study, healthy male subjects were fed either green tea or a dose of caffeine equal to the caffeine in green tea. The subjects who drank the green tea showed an increase in energy expenditure (number of calories burned) and an increase in fat oxidation.



However, the subjects who consumed caffeine only showed no increase in energy expenditure or fat oxidation. This leads to the conclusion that it is not the caffeine in tea that has the effect on the body’s ability to lose weight. Or, at the very least, the caffeine needs to be in combination with the anti-oxidants in order to have an effect.



In the other study cited in this article, the subjects were rats. These rats were injected with EGCG, the most potent anti-oxidant found in green tea. The rats showed a weight loss within 2-7 days of beginning the injections.



The rats showed two effects from the tea injections. The first was that their metabolism appeared to speed up. However, they also began to eat less. On average, the rats ate about 15% less when given the green tea injections.



In addition, very lean rats showed a propensity to stay lean when receiving the injections of EGCG, even when their diet increased in calories. All of the results from this study were found to be completely reversible; when the rats stopped receiving the EGCG injections, they regained the weight.



This study is important for several reasons. First of all, it suggests that EGCG is the anti-oxidant, or at least one of them, responsible for green tea’s ability to affect weight loss. Secondly, the study suggests that green tea may decrease the appetite, which may explain part of why it helps you lose weight.



Another interesting tidbit reported in this study is that the lean rats needed an increase in EGCG over time to continue to stay lean when their calories were increased. This may suggest that over time our bodies may adjust to the effects of the EGCG and we may require more in order to lose or maintain weight.



Keep in mind that this second study was conducted on rats, which means that its results may not directly correlate in humans. However, there is certainly enough positive information between the two studies to give a strong indication that green tea is helpful in weight loss.



Healthy diets combined with a reasonable exercise plan are still the two most important components of weight management. However, it does appear that adding green tea to this healthy diet can provide some help in losing weight or keeping it within a normal range. Most interestingly, it seems clear that green tea will help you more than other caffeinated beverages.



And, the really good news about using green tea to help you lose weight is that it is completely safe and has no side effects. In fact, even if you didn’t lose weight, you would likely find yourself to be healthier overall because of your green tea consumption.



Since green tea has also been shown to reduce your risk of many diseases, including heart disease and cancer, there is no downside to adding it to your diet.



To be certain, more research is needed to pinpoint exactly how green tea can help us with weight management. However, there’s certainly enough evidence available today to suggest that green tea is worth trying. You just might find that your weight loss efforts suddenly become easier and more successful.



About the Author: Marcus Stout is President of the Golden Moon Tea Company. For more information about tea, green tea and wu long tea go to http://www.goldenmoontea.com

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