The benefits of drinking tea are well known and extensive. From promoting relaxation and sleep to clearing up skin or giving you an energy boost, tea does some amazing things. Of all the teas, however, green tea receives some of the highest praise.
Green tea is derived from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant and undergoes the least amount of processing of all teas. Its bioactive compounds are responsible for a wealth of benefits, from boosting blood vessel function to increasing bone mineral density. Furthermore, green tea is also believed to combat obesity by increasing fat loss.
What makes this type of tea so amazing in the battle to burn off that extra fat? Antioxidants.
Green tea is packed with antioxidants, known as catechins, because unlike other teas, which are often fermented, green tea is produced by withering and steaming the leaves. That makes it much more potent when it comes to fighting the free radicals we encounter in our daily life. It’s these free radicals that can damage our cells and cause them to age – they can even make us sick. And green tea has the most powerful catechin of all to help in this fight: EGCG, also known as epigallocatechin-3-gallate.
Decrease Body Weight
Researchers from the State University of New Jersey investigated the effects of EGCG on obesity and metabolic syndrome, a group of risk factors for heart disease, in mice following a high-fat diet. At the end of the 16-week study, which was published in the September 2008 issue of the Journal of Nutrition, lead author Mousumi Bose and colleagues observed that mice adhering to a high-fat diet with EGCG supplementation experienced decreases in body weight and body fat percentage compared with mice following the same diet without EGCG treatment.
Reduce Belly Fat
Combining EGCG with a moderate amount of exercise might banish belly fat. Lead investigator Kevin Maki and researchers Tufts University assigned overweight and obese subjects a beverage high in catechins, including EGCG, or a placebo for 12 weeks. Both groups participated in a moderate amount of exercise three times per week. Scientists found that the catechin group experienced greater decreases in body fat, especially abdominal fat, compared to the placebo group. They reported their findings in the February 2009 issue of the Journal of Nutrition.
EGCG has been shown to help increase your metabolic rate (metabolism) to burn more calories, but how does it work? When your resting metabolic rate is raised, your body starts using the fat you’ve stored throughout your body as a source of fuel to help shed those pounds hanging around.
A 2003 study conducted at the University of Chicago found that EGCG helped reduce the body weight of rats by up to 21%. Human studies are still ongoing to determine how exactly EGCG affects the human body to cause these results, but a 2007 study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that, of 38 overweight and/or obese post-menopausal women taking 150 mg of EGCG twice a day for 12 weeks, their resting heart rate and the amount of plasma glucose was reduced.
Adding EGCG to Your Diet
EGCG can enhance any diet and can help you stay focused on your diet to help you lose weight. He recommended 500 mg of this antioxidant per day on its own. Green tea extracts are also a popular choice for weight loss, because they offer a concentrated version of this powerful ingredient for maximum fat burning.