Sitting quietly with a cup of tea is a great way to relieve stress, enjoy a few moments to yourself, warm up on a cold winter’s day, and… lose weight? If you’re enjoying a cup of green tea, some evidence points to yes.
That’s because green tea contains a compound called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Research on this compound has indicated that it can prompt a range of health benefits including better heart health, lower risk of certain diseases, improved cognitive function, and weight loss.
Let’s take a look at what EGCG is, how it works in the body, and how it may help in your weight loss journey.
What is EGCG?
EGCG is a catechin. These plant-based compounds fall under a larger umbrella of plan compounds known as polyphenols. EGCG has been shown to be a powerful antioxidant.
Antioxidants help protect cells against damage caused by an excess of free radicals in the body.
When consumed in appropriate amounts, antioxidants can minimize this damage.
Research has also demonstrated that polyphenols produce benefits in reducing inflammation, and serve as a preventative measure against some chronic conditions, such as infections, asthma, diabetes, heart disease and specific types of cancer.
Green tea is just one way to get EGCG, which is also found in several natural plant-based food sources. Dietary supplements, typically in the form of extracts, are also available. And to get the best results, green tea extract supplements may be the way to go; it can take a lot of cups of tea to consume enough EGCG to make a difference!
Still, drinking green tea is a great way to stay hydrated, take a relaxing break during a busy day, and even reap some of the health benefits associated with this amazing herb.
What are some health benefits of green tea/ECGC?
If you follow health fads, I’m certain you’ve heard that green tea is one of the healthiest beverage choices you can make.
The health benefits that green tea extract offers are more than just a fad, though. Scientific evidence supports the idea that green tea has a positive impact on health.
Packed with antioxidants, green tea may offer benefits large and small, from fending off bad breath to decreasing the risk of some cancers to protecting your brain from the effects of aging. And yes, it’s also been shown to aid in fat loss, boosting metabolism, facilitates phase 2 detoxification and helps with modest weight loss.
Traditional Indian and Chinese medicine has used green tea as an herbal support for a long time. More research is becoming available all the time on the potential healing benefits green tea extract offers. While more is still needed to solidify the findings, I believe that green tea can be an effective addition to a daily regimen for optimal health.
In 2006, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that there is an association between green tea consumption and reduced mortality from all causes. The study involved a large sample, more than 40,000 Japanese participants between 40 and 79 years old, following them from 1994 to 2005. Those who drank at least five cups of green tea each day had a significantly lower risk of death, particularly from cardiovascular disease, than those who drank less than one cup.
A 2011 meta-analysis of 14 published studies linked green tea, whether beverage or capsules, to modest (but statistically significant) reduction in both LDL cholesterol (the “bad” kind) and total cholesterol levels. Another large scale study showed that regular consumption of green tea or coffee is associated with decreased risk of stroke.
Other research has shown that green tea may reduce risk of type 2 diabetes, enhance cognitive function (especially working memory), be a promising potential treatment for inflammatory skin conditions, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease, and much more – including fat burning and weight loss.
Related article: Health benefits of Tea
Green Tea, Metabolism, and Weight Loss
Fat burning supplements are almost guaranteed to list green tea as one of the active ingredients. Research has backed the notion that green tea increases fat burning and metabolic rate.
Multiple studies have demonstrated that green tea may decrease body fat, particularly visceral (abdominal) fat that is such a concern for women as they age. One study published in the journal Obesity showed that participants in the group that consumed green tea had significant decreases in percentage of body fat, waist circumference, belly fat and overall body weight as compared with the control group.
Abdominal fat is a particular issue due to its association with both inflammation and insulin resistance. Each of these factors has a strong link to serious health conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Research showing modest weight loss effects of green tea catechins have indicated that a significant portion of this fat loss comes from the abdominal region. This suggests that green tea consumption could help you avoid major diseases and allow you to enjoy a longer, healthier life.
When EGCG is taken in conjunction with caffeine (which also occurs naturally in green tea), weight loss may be even more likely. That’s because caffeine, a stimulant, uses fat as energy. A 2017 review study found that research has shown that combining between 80 and 300 mg of caffeine with green tea with EGCG doses between 100 and 460 mg per day is linked with reduction in body weight when used for 12 or more weeks.
How does green tea impact fat burning? Studies suggest that it has to do with enhancing the effects of fat-burning hormones, including norepinephrine. EGCG helps inhibit an enzyme which breaks this hormone down, allowing norepinephrine to increase and promote the breakdown of fat.
An additional factor that may cause green tea to prompt weight loss is the impact it has on appetite. Some research has found that green tea decreases appetite, which in turn decreases calorie consumption.
Although the weight loss effects aren’t extreme, green tea just might give you the little boost you need to get things started.
Consume green tea daily in conjunction with THESE strategies
As I said before, in order to really impact weight loss, you’ll likely need to consume green tea extract as a supplement (unless you drink a lot of tea). For significant weight loss, a combination approach is best. Try using green tea/EGCG with other proven strategies, such as the following:
- Boost protein intake.
- Decrease intake of carbs – especially if you have had a genetic profile that shows you should be on a low carb diet to maintain a healthy weight.
- Address emotional upset that may be changing eating behaviors.
- Decrease stress (try relaxing with a cup of green tea while outside enjoying the sunshine)
- Keep hormones well balanced.
- Find a program with support and guidelines that will keep you on track – accountability makes a big difference!
Reviewed by Dr. Mark Menolascino, MD