Green tea has been used historically in many cultures around the world for its many health benefits. From improved athletic performance to antioxidant support to increased brain function, green tea can definitely be considered a superfood. You might be surprised to know that various studies have now proven green tea’s ability to help you lose weight, which adds just one more impressive health benefit to this tasty beverage.
What is Green Tea, Exactly?
Green tea originates in China and comes from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, which are the same leaves used to make black and oolong varieties of tea. The difference is that green tea has not undergone the same amount of processing (oxidation and withering) than the other varieties, and it has become popular around the world for both its taste and medicinal properties.
How Can Green Tea Help Me Lose Weight?
While green tea offers many impressive benefits besides weight loss, let’s first get into why green tea makes for an excellent addition to any weight loss plan.
Green Tea Promotes Fat Loss
Green tea contains caffeine, which has been shown to seriously support fat burning. Green tea contains about 30-40 mg of caffeine (compared to an average of 100-200 mg in a cup of coffee), but still provides the fat-burning benefits of this stimulant. Many people find that green tea provides a more stable caffeine buzz without the dip and spike that often comes with coffee. Also, green tea contains the important oxidant epigallocatechin gallate, which has been shown to boost metabolism.
Green Tea Increases Fat Burned During Exercise
Substances in green tea work so well to boost fat burning during exercise that it is used in many commonly used, commercial weight loss supplements. One study involving male subjects found that they burned 17% more fat than those who didn’t take a green tea supplement, and another study also concluded that, after an 8 week period, subjects had greater fat burning capabilities both at rest and during activity. Not many beverages can claim this benefit, which makes green tea a unique and effective part of your weight loss diet.
Green Tea Increases Your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR)
Your resting metabolic rate is the rate at which you burn calories during rest. Even while you sleep or are in a sedentary position, your body still uses calories to carry out basic bodily functions. Studies show that the simple act of drinking green tea can increase your RMR by anywhere between 4 and 8%, which is substantial. This means that if you eat a 2,000 calorie diet, you can burn an extra 80 calories per day (more or less). One study looking at a group of 60 participants who were obese over a 3 month period found that those taking green tea extract (in supplement form) burned over 180 calories extra per day than the group who didn’t use green tea.
Green Tea Curbs Your Appetite
Probably the most simple way that green tea works to help you lose weight is by curbing your appetite, leading to lesser overall calorie intake. While more studies are needed, initial research suggests that certain compounds within green tea, along with its caffeine content, can help to decrease appetite and (potentially) curb cravings.
What Are Other Benefits of Green Tea?
Weight loss definitely isn’t the only benefit you’ll reap from drinking green tea. Check out some other great reasons to include green tea in your daily diet:
A More Stable Caffeine Buzz
As mentioned above, green tea is lower in caffeine than coffee, so can provide a caffeine buzz without the dip and spike that sometimes comes along with coffee. While coffee also offers health benefits for some people, green tea tends to help you avoid jitteriness and blood sugar imbalances that can often result from drinking coffee.
Increased Cognitive Function
Studies have shown that caffeine increases brain neuron activity, therefore improving memory, concentration and reaction time. Along with caffeine (whose cognitive benefits are found in all caffeinated foods and beverages), green tea also contains the amino acid L-theanine, which increases GABA activity, a neurotransmitter that has a calming effect on the nervous system. Studies suggest that the unique combination of L-theanine and caffeine provide boosted brain function.
Improved Athletic Performance
Studies have also shown that caffeine can increase athletic and physical performance during exercise by up to 12%. Drinking green tea immediately before a workout or event can boost your energy and overall performance, and is preferred by many over coffee since you are less likely to experience a crash later on.
Another study explained that caffeine also increases athletic performance by mobilizing the fatty acids in our fat tissues, therefore allowing the body to use them for energy. This can also be effective for weight loss.
Powerful Antioxidant Profile
Free radicals are compounds that, when occurring in excess, can contribute to a host of serious conditions such as cancer and diabetes (among many others). A diet rich in antioxidants can help fight free radical damage, and green tea is packed full of powerful antioxidants. One 2006 study found that women who consumed the most green tea had a 22% lesser chance of developing breast cancer, and another study concluded that those who regularly drank green tea had an almost 60% lowered chance of developing colorectal cancer. Research has also shown that green tea can contribute to lowered risk of prostate cancer. Also make sure to eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit, which are also quite high in antioxidants.
Is Green Tea Better than Coffee?
Both coffee and green tea offer health benefits, but green tea is a superior beverage than coffee. It is higher in nutrients and antioxidants, and contains less caffeine. If you prefer coffee, consider switching on and off with green tea, or trade out that afternoon coffee for green tea, instead. If you are sensitive to caffeine, green tea will definitely be the better choice.
What if I don’t Like the Taste?
Some people don’t love the taste of green tea, as it can be somewhat bitter. However, there are ways to get around that. First of all, try a variety such as Jasmine green tea, which naturally has a slightly sweeter taste. Second, quality does matter (similarly to most foods). Low quality green tea is more likely to have a bitter taste, so opt for an organic brand if possible. Some low quality green tea brands can contain high levels of fluoride, and using the green tea leaves (instead of bags) can ensure purer quality.
Also, be sure not to steep your green tea for too long. Green tea really only needs to be brewed for about 2 minutes, any longer and you might end up with a bitter tasting tea.
There you have it! Include green tea in your diet can be excellent for weight loss and offer a slew of other impressive health benefits. Opt for a high quality brand whenever possible, and add a touch of honey and lemon if you want extra added taste and nutrition.
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