Green Tea

Most conversations about tea and weight loss tend to start with green tea — and for good reason. Of all the teas, this mild, bittersweet variety has the most research to back up its potential weight loss benefits.

For example, a previous study of about 1,200 Taiwanese men and women found that those who drank two cups of green tea per day for more than 10 years had a lower percentage of body fat and a smaller waist than non-regular green tea drinkers. The researchers simply observed an association between drinking green tea and having a smaller waist, not a cause-and-effect relationship. Also, the researchers relied on survey data, which may have left room for error.

Other studies have suggested a more direct link between green tea and weight loss, though this research also has limitations, including study size and length, as well as a lack of using brewed tea. In a very small past laboratory study, 10 healthy men burned an extra 63.5 to 200 calories in 24 hours after taking two green tea extract supplements three times in one day, compared with a day when they took a placebo. These small increases may help people lose weight over time, but long-term health risks versus benefits would need to be explored in a larger study.

The calorie-burning effects of green tea may stem from the combined effects of EGCG and caffeine, which appear to work synergistically: “Studies have reported that caffeine must be present with EGCG to aid in weight loss, because a stimulated nervous system is needed for optimal results,” Koszyk says. According to a review of 15 clinical trials published in June 2017 in Nutrición Hospitalaria, green tea was only effective for weight loss when it was combined with 80 to 300 milligrams (mg) of caffeine per day.

Moreover, the EGCG and caffeine in green tea may target fat cells in particular. Another small study involving 10 men who were obese or overweight found that taking 300 mg of EGCG in supplement form for three days helped increase fat oxidation (the process of breaking down fatty acids). Per past research, 300 mg of EGCG is about what you’d find in three cups of brewed green tea.

“In addition, EGCG can inhibit fat cell development, so the body doesn’t form new fat cells,” Koszyk says. Research in animals suggests that the catechins in green tea interfere with the process of fat absorption and metabolism, according to a past article.

However, newer research is needed to determine the actual effects of green tea on weight loss, due to the aforementioned limitations to previous studies.

RELATED: 10 Potential Health Benefits of Green Tea

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