If you want to lose belly fat
get yourself a good quality ceramic tea pot, some green tea and start brewing. There has been a lot of research into the health benefits of tea for all kinds of health issues, and one of the most interesting things for me right now is the effect of green tea on belly fat.
Recently I talked about the health risks of visceral obesity and I’m on a quest to find out what really does help us to lose the belly fat. This week I’m putting green tea in the spot light.
Green tea has compounds which increase the rate that we burn calories.
These compounds cause fat cells to be oxidized at a faster rate – burned up. There are quite a few research studies which support green tea as an aid to losing belly fat. Tea in general has loads of antioxidant properties; green tea in particular contains an antioxidant (epigallocatechin-3-gallate (ECGC )) from a class of antioxidants called catechins. Some teas contain more catechins than others.
Whats so special about catechins?
They act on the hormone norepinephrine by increasing the rate we burn calories. But catechins affect norepinephrine in a different way than the alkaloids that are responsible for fat burning properties of ephedra and possibly bitter orange. One definite benefit of green tea is that it doesn’t cause an increase in your blood pressure, like ephedra or tainted bitter orange products- if you would like to read about green tea and blood pressure go here.
The compound in green tea ECGC interferes with an enzyme that degrades norephinphrine.
Instead of causing an overproduction of norepinephrine like ephdra, which can cause serious heart problems ECGC increases the length of time that norepinephrine acts on the cell- increasing the length of time for fat burning. If you want a detailed scientific explanation of this go here.
There are a couple of other things about ECGC is that make it effective for fat loss.
It sends glucose to the muscles where it will be burned up as energy. ECGC also inhibits the enzymes that break fat cells down – meaning we don’t digest as much fat, but excrete it from our bodies. A wonderful site that talks all about green tea and the health benefits and backed by scientific information is right here.
Does it really work?
Well a meta-analysis published in 2009 says it does- at least in part. Here are the results: Over an average of 12 weeks, green tea with caffeine reduced Body Mass Index by 0.55, body weight reduced by 1.38 kg or 3 pounds, and waist circumference by 1.93 centimeters or .75 of 1 inch. This does sound overly exciting, but whenever you interpret data from research studies and trials you need to remember things like quality of the study, bias, and other factors that skew results. A meta analysis compiles data from a number of studies and then crunches the numbers, so we get some idea – but rarely if ever – a clear definitive answer because typically the studies are not all equal in quality.
The thing to realize out of this is that green tea really does work. Now what can we do to improve the outcome.
Exercise enhances the effect of green tea and fat burning.
We can never get away from it, exercise is necessary for weight control, you just gotta get up and move. You will lose weight if you do this, but, you can lose MORE weight if you include green tea. A recent 2009 study had 107 people complete a trial where they were randomly assigned to a group which received a drink with 625mg of catechins and 39 grams of caffeine, or a control group with the caffeine but no catechins. All of them had to exercise for 180minutes per week of moderate intensity. That’s just 25 minutes a day, or 60 minutes 3 times per week. Also, they had to stick to the same amount of calories each day. The study found that those with the catechins showed greater belly fat loss than those with the caffeine alone. The thing is though, that getting that amount requires somewhere between 6 to 15 cups of tea per day. The reason is that depending on the quality of the tea you are using, there may be between 50 and 100mg catechins per cup.
There are other studies that show connections between exercise, green tea and weight loss
in 2005 a study was published that showed that lab animals fed a high fat diet lost 58% of visceral fat when fed green tea extract combined with exercise. In that experiment, even the animals with no exercise lost 47% of calorie induced weight gain. But the animals were fed green tea supplements.
I don’t really believe in supplements of green tea.
Why buy one when you can simply drink green tea? You don’t want to get overdosed with caffeine or any other isolated compound.
But if you decide to buy a supplement then listen up
- do not supply your credit card details to a company that bills you monthly and sends your supplements. There are some really unscrupulous people out there who will charge you an arm and a leg every month unless you somehow manage to cancel your subscription. Yours truly, in her younger days was caught in this trap, and, coincidentally it was for a green tea patch. I think it was about $100 per month or something horrendous. My patch didn’t work – I sent off a letter to cancel and next month, more patchs, another $100+. I tried calling to no avail. Eventually, I looked at the packaging, and found the telephone number for the people who supplied the packaging, called them and they gave me a number to call. They didn’t bat an eyelid when I asked. I suspect I wasn’t the first desperate person to call them.
If you decide to add green tea to your daily life
tell your primary health care giver before you begin, especially if you take coumadin or other blood thinners. Green tea is high in vitamin K – and you will need to have your meds adjusted.
If you want to give green tea a try, then get a good quality one, preferably organic so that the soil it grew in is in good condition. Store it in an air tight container. If you use teabags use flow through tea bags, not flat ones. Get a good quality ceramic (no lead) or glass to avoid interactions of metals with the antioxidants. After letting it cool, I place a cut up lemon in it and put it in water bottles to take to with me for drinking in the day. I really like it and it quenches my thirst – I don’t add sugar, but you can add stevia or other sweetener if you like.