Losing weight is something that many people want to experience—and the faster it happens (and the less strenuous effort involved), the better.
It’s no surprise then, that anything that claims to be ‘fat burning’ will always have a ready market! But can green tea help you lose weight and burn fat?
Green tea has long history as a traditional medicinal cure. It has reportedly been used to treat ailments from headaches to heartburn and everything in between.
Open any fitness mag or read any ‘clean eating blog’ and you’ll see it’s all the rage with fitness folks.
Fans of the brew claim a few cups of green tea or some green tea extract is a sure fire way to ignite your metabolism and turbo charge your weight loss.
Now if you’ve read any of our other nutrition and fitness articles, you’ll know that we like to consider ourselves as evidence-based practitioners. We don’t like fluff, FAD deits and fitness BS! So true to form, this article will delve into the wonderful claims about green tea. We’ll give you some solid, advice with the evidence to back it up.
Can Green Tea Really Help You Lose Weight?
Green tea is rich in antioxidants called catechins. The one that receives the most attention and is often reported to be the fat-burner or metabolism-booster is called epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG for short.
Before we go any further, it’s important to note that a regular sized cup of green tea will contain around 50mg of EGCG.
One study looked at the effects of catechin enriched green tea on body composition. The group who drank the highest concentration of catechins in their green tea (886 mg) lost 1.2 kg more than the other groups in 90 days.
Sounds promising, right?
Not so fast. That’s the equivalent of 18 cups of green tea per day!
Another study looked at fat lost around the abdominal region in overweight and obese adults. The green tea drinkers lost a fraction more by drinking the equivalent of 13 cups per day but the results weren’t even significant.
The ‘Metabolism Boosting’ Claims About Green Tea Don’t Stand Up To Scrutiny Either.
Research in the British Journal of Nutrition found that green tea extract containing 600mg EGCG (12 cups per day equivalent) didn’t have any effect on the metabolic rate of 15 healthy males. Researchers in Colorado found the same thing. They studied the resting metabolic rate of 16 adults. Green tea extract didn’t have any impact on their metabolism either.
Not looking good is it?
Here’s the final nail in the coffin. In 2012, a meta-analysis (this is a big study of other studies) examined 18 studies on the effect of green tea on weight loss involving 1,945 participants.
Here’s the conclusion:
Green tea preparations appear to induce a small, statistically non-significant weight loss in overweight or obese adults. Because the amount of weight loss is small, it is not likely to be clinically important. Green tea had no significant effect on the maintenance of weight loss.
The bottom line is that green tea may result in a tiny amount of weight loss but it’s very insignificant. Secondly, the amount you would have to drink for it to have even the slightest impact on your waist line is far greater than what you would happily drink in a day anyway.
Are There Any Health Benefits From Drinking Green Tea?
If you look at the evidence, there doesn’t appear to be many significant health benefits from doing so.
A meta-analysis examined 51 studies on green tea and cancer prevention and the researchers concluded that the link between green tea and minimising cancer incidences was weak and “highly contradictory”.
Green tea may be good for your cholesterol (woohoo, some benefits at last).
One study found a statistically significant reduction in total and LDL cholesterol levels; but, there was no significant effect on HDL cholesterol or triglyceride levels.
The problem is that it’s not clear how much green tea is needed to have a positive effect as one of the reported doses in this study was 3,000 mg per day. That’s the equivalent of 60 cups!
Another use, is that it’s quite a good mouth wash.
Yup, this is legit. One study found that mouth rinsing with green tea had much and such the same effect on preventing tooth decay as a conventional mouthwash, albeit without the minty fresh taste.
The Round Up: Can Green Tea Help You Lose Weight?
If you like drinking green tea, go ahead and enjoy it.
If you’re forcing yourself to drink it because you think it’s “fat burning”, well, you can stop. The research shows that it is unlikely to have any effect on your quest for a leaner physique. In fact most supplements or ‘fat burners’ aren’t going to make any difference to your waistline. Want more? Listen to this podcast episode: The Surprising Truth About Dietary Supplements That Might Change The Way You Eat