Go green, get lean – Everything you need to know about the health benefits of Grean Tea.
Let’s be honest: losing weight is difficult. Many women try over and over, only to fail. Could green tea be a valuable weapon in the war against our wobbly bits?
What is green tea?
From spinach to traffic lights, one thing we are fairly sure of in modern times is that green is good, and green tea is no exception.
Green tea is made from a plant called Camellia sinensis (also known as the tea shrub), the same plant from which we source black and oolong tea. The difference lies in the production methods. Green tea is the result of the leaves of this plant being lightly steamed, while different processes are used for other kinds of tea.
The tea plant is packed with nutrients, containing polyphenols and epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). Simply put, these are the chemicals that are good for you. And while we often rely on coffee to get us through that mid-afternoon slump, tea is also a source of caffeine.
Can these components of tea, however, aid in weight loss? The answer is yes, but there are things to consider before you stock up on green tea and replace the salad with chocolate.
Where do antioxidants fit in?
The EGCG in green tea is a catechin, and this serves as an antioxidant. “Green tea is made from unoxidised leaves and is one of the less processed types of tea. It therefore contains the most antioxidants…” says Medical News Today.
They go on to explain the role of antioxidants in the body. An antioxidant is a chemical compound that prevents or slows down damage caused to our cells by free radicals. Free radicals can be described as molecules that our bodies produce when exposed to external sources such as cigarette smoke or x-rays, as well as when we indulge in nutrient-poor food, such as processed food. Free radicals lead to many medical conditions, including cancer, stroke, heart disease, immune deficiency and respiratory diseases.
The authors at everydayhealth.com list the following foods as being rich in antioxidants:
- Dark chocolate
Can green tea give me my dream body?
Many researchers investigated the role of green tea in shedding those unwanted rolls, and concluded that green tea can in fact help, even though it will not lead to a drastic transformation.
The amount of weight you shed by sipping on green tea will differ from person to person, but studies claim that on average, you can burn an extra 75 to 100 calories per day. This is due to the caffeine and EGCG in the beverage – these can boost your metabolism.
A 100 calories is not much, but every little bit helps. In the case of green tea, it will be most effective over a period of time, with research stating that a green tea habit can leave you between 0.6 and 1.6kg lighter on the long term.
You will have to develop a serious commitment to the green beverage to achieve these results.
There are differing opinions as to how much green tea you actually need to drink, and once again it will differ from one person to the next. It is generally recommended though that you drink anything from two to six cups per day for weight loss purposes.
What time is the best time for tea time?
Starting your day with a cup of green tea on an empty stomach is recommended by some sources for optimal weight loss. If you have a sensitive stomach though, this can lead to an upset tummy.
Having a cup before you exercise is beneficial in working off those kilojoules, and the caffeine can energise you, helping you to exercise longer and harder.
If you are sensitive to caffeine, avoid having green tea close to bedtime, as it might rob you of sleep which happens to be another important component of weight loss.
Can green tea replace sweat-sessions in the gym?
Do not cancel that gym membership quite yet. If significant weight loss is your goal, rather combine your exercise routine with the consumption of green tea. Sadly, no evidence exists that regular tea breaks alone will leave you looking like a supermodel.
The road to successful weight loss is paved with a healthy diet, exercise, AND some green tea to help you achieve a calorie deficit.
Besides, a refreshing cup of tea with the added caffeine boost might be just the thing to motivate you to get to the gym.
Bye-bye to belly fat?
Not only is a bulging belly unsightly and difficult to get rid of, but it comes with serious health risks. Belly fat resides in the same area as important organs such as your liver and kidneys, and ups your risk of developing diabetes, hypertension, cancer and heart issues.
It is worth it to take every step you can to get rid of it, including the addition of green tea in your daily meal plan.
According to the authors of The Mediterranean Diet Book adding some pomegranate extract to your green tea can further help to burn belly fat, with the additional benefit of preventing certain kinds of breast cancer cells from growing.
Talking about breasts, you needn’t worry that green tea will burn away your boobs. Generally losing weight will reduce breast size, as we lose fat all over our bodies. Green tea in itself is however not the culprit.
Are all green teas made equal?
Hailed as one of the healthiest drinks in existence, green tea is naturally popular in a world where we are increasingly aware of what we put into our bodies. Therefore you can buy your green tea fix in many different forms.
This drink can be enjoyed hot or cold, and is available bottled, in tea bags, as an instant powder and loose-leaf. If you are using the beverage for weight loss purposes, beware of bottled green tea as these are often sweetened.
Always read the label on the bottle to ensure that your drink doesn’t contain sugar, even if the product claims to be low fat. Fat and sugar is not the same, and a low fat product can still contain sugar.
Are there different varieties of green tea?
Different varieties of green tea exist, with the main differences between them being the variety of the tea plant being used as well as the conditions in which it was grown, harvested and processed.
Some varieties of green tea are:
- Maghrebi mint
Matcha is sold as a bright green powder, and is said to contain the most antioxidants as well as being the best choice if you want to lose weight.
The difference between varieties in terms of weight loss is, however, minimal.
Can I trust green tea supplements?
Green tea supplements, which can be bought either as an extract or in capsule form, are popular products in the battle against the bulge. Many of these are specifically marketed for weight loss, but doctors warn that it might be safer to stick to your home-brewed cup.
Green tea extract in large doses has been shown to cause liver damage, shockingly to the same extent as seen in people who abuse alcohol.
Furthermore, using a supplement instead of the real thing doesn’t show increased weight loss. You will shed about as much weight was with drinking your tea, and doctors agree that this is the safest way to ingest green tea.
Preparing the perfect cup
To get the most out of your cup of tea, avoid the common mistake of pouring boiling water over your tea. This will destroy those valuable catechins. Instead, bring the water to the boil, let it stand for 10 minutes, and only then steep the tea for one to two minutes and serve.
A badly brewed cup of green tea is likely to taste more bitter than it should. Green tea has an earthy, sweet and slightly bitter taste which is, well, not everyone’s cup of tea. Too much sugar in our diets also causes our palates to crave excessive sweetness.
You can alter the taste of green tea if you want to include it in your diet, but don’t like the taste. Stay away from sugar in your tea, as that will completely derail your weight-loss plans.
Try squeezing some lemon juice into your tea, as this counteracts the bitterness. As an added bonus, lemon juice actually aids the catechins in improving your general health.
Other kinds of fruit juice (make sure that it’s sugar free) or a sweetener can also be added to your cup.
What are the dangers of drinking green tea?
Drinking a few cups of green tea every day is not likely to send you to the emergency room.
Experts agree that the biggest risk lies in the use of supplements where you ingest concentrated doses, not to mention the error of thinking you will achieve better results by taking more than the recommended dosage.
Similarly, you could experience health problems if you drink massive amounts of green tea – here we are talking about more tea than most people would normally drink.
Some adverse effects of excessive green tea intake that have occurred include:
- Liver diseases
- Iron deficiency
- Increased anxiety, sleeplessness and irregular heartbeat due to the caffeine content.
- Interactions with other medications
Are there other health benefits to drinking green tea?
If you are still unsure whether to add green tea to your diet, there are a few more reasons than potential weight loss to do just that.
Research has shown that your leisurely tea break comes with many possible benefits to your overall health.
- Protection against cancer
- Prevention of Alzheimer’s disease
- Diabetes prevention
- Improved heart health
- Freshening up your breath and improved dental health
- Boosting the immune system
- Improves the appearance of your skin
- Positive effect on cholesterol
- Prevention of high blood pressure
There is no doubt that green tea is a valuable source of nutrients that can assist in losing weight, as well as multiple other health benefits.
The thing we need to realise though is that it is not a miracle cure. You can’t indulge in an unhealthy lifestyle and then expect a few cups of green tea per day to sort out all of your health issues – that’s simply not how it works.
But, in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle, green tea will add to the benefits you will enjoy. So sit back, relax, and enjoy every sip from your steaming cup. You deserve it.