There is so much research that supports drinking green tea to reduce the risk of developing heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes, etc. With all the many health benefits of green tea, it makes sense that many people would also be curious and pose the question, “is green tea good for weight loss?”
Tea originated in China and then spread to Japan and other parts of Asia and then spread to Europe including England where it became the national beverage. While coffee in hugely popular in the U.S, tea drinking continues to increase in popularity especially with all the health benefits that are being backed up by scientific research including weight loss.
Four types of tea
While there are many “teas” out there, there are really four basic types namely white, green, oolong and black tea. These four teas are derived from the leaves of Camellia senensis.
When the leaves are harvested, they are dried or if not dried, the leaves start to wilt and oxidize (ferment) and start turning darker as they combine with oxygen.
- Black tea represents leaves that are wilted and fully oxidized.
- Oolong tea represents wilted and partially oxidized leaves.
- White tea represents leaves that are dried immediately without wilting or oxidation.
- Green tea represents wilted by not oxidized leaves.
What’s so great about tea?
The health benefits of tea come from the high levels of antioxidants that tea contains which are even significantly higher than the amount of antioxidants in many fruits and vegetables.
Antioxidants are important because they prevent free radical damage to healthy cells. Free radicals are unstable oxygen cells that in a quest to stabilize themselves, steal electrons from any healthy molecules that they can find which only creates more free radicals.
Left to run amok, the effects of free radicals can be devastating to the body by contributing to the development of various diseases and conditions including certain cancers, hardening of the arteries, degenerative eye disease, premature aging, etc.
This is where antioxidants come in. While the creation of free radicals is natural to the body, the damage that free radicals cause can be limited and antioxidants are the best way to do this. Antioxidants come between free radicals and healthy cells which helps to prevent damage to the healthy cells.
Tea contains a very important antioxidant known as EGCG or epigallocatechin-3-gallate. These antioxidants help to prevent the risk of developing various diseases and conditions. Green tea and white tea contain the highest levels of antioxidants and most research results put green tea way above other types of tea in antioxidant action.
Does green tea help with weight loss? Research has shown that green tea can help with weight loss because it contains caffeine. This caffeine helps to increase basal metabolic rate which represents the rate at which the body burns calories while at rest.
Even though you can use green tea as one of the ways of losing weight without exercise, research has also shown that drinking green tea can help improve the results of exercise based weight loss programs.
A study published by The Journal of Nutrition found that participants who combined exercise with 625 mg of catechins (antioxidants found in green tea) over a 12 week period reported a greater loss of belly fat than a control group who used exercise and caffeine (but not the green tea catechins).
One cup is not sufficient
If you are asking the question “is green tea good for weight loss?” always remember that green tea is not a miracle weight loss pill and only gives a modest bump in the metabolic rate although for some people a modest bump is more than sufficient especially if they also combine green tea drinking with exercise.
While drinking a cup of green tea a day will impart some health benefits, most study participants drank at least 3 cups a day. If interested in green tea and weight loss, certainly consider drinking several cups throughout the day for maximum benefits.
The perfect cup
- Non chlorinated water is best to make the perfect cup as chlorination can interfere with tea’s flavor.
- While connoisseurs prefer loose tea, bagged tea is still beneficial.
- While research is inconclusive on the effects of adding milk to tea, you may want to avoid adding milk because some research has shown that milk may block tea’s antioxidant action.
- A fresh cup of tea is best but if you make iced tea, make sure that you drink it within a few days.
- Compared to other teas, green tea releases its antioxidants the fastest so you only need to steep green tea for about 3 minutes. Steeping it for longer will not make the antioxidant concentration stronger.
The benefits of green tea are vast besides those discussed above and if you are wondering “is green tea good for weight loss?” the answer is yes but it is not a miracle diet pill. You should certainly drink green tea throughout the day even if the weight loss effects are modest because of its ability to decrease the risk of developing various diseases and conditions due to its antioxidant action.