Green Tea as Fat Burner - Myth or Fact?
Andreea Macoveiciuc | On 27, Dec 2013
Not sure how many of you are watching The Dr. Oz Show, but in one of November’s episodes, he talked about some of the most popular belly fat myths and gave some useful tips on how to get rid of belly fat using only natural solutions.
According to Dr. Oz, drinking two cups of green tea per day, in combination with a CLA supplement, can reduce the body fat percentage and help one get in shape faster.
What’s a CLA supplement?
Conjugated linoleic acids, or a family of substances found in dairy and meat products, which are known to improve immunity, limit food allergy reactions, fight against atherosclerosis and support weight loss.
CLA was found to reduce the amount of belly fat and to improve the belly firmness, this explaining its wide use in overweight and obese patients.
On the other hand, CLA supplements may alter the body’s sensitivity to insulin, may upset the gastrointestinal tract and increase the levels of potassium, causing kidney problems.
In fact, if you have the time to browse for opinions from real users, you’ll see they are slightly different than the marketing stories used for promoting these fat burning supplements.
Although there are people who did manage to lose weight easier after using these supplements, lots of the users who have tried CLA for reducing their body fat percentage have experienced kidney problems. This means that CLA may not be the best solution for dropping extra fats faster.
But Dr. Oz’s solution also included green tea, and if you’re curious to check the labels of different fat burners and weight loss products, you’ll see that lots of them contain this tea. Does it mean that the tasty beverage obtained from the Camellia sinensis plant can trim down fats and get you a model’s body?
Is green tea really a fat burner?
The myth promoted by companies producing dietary supplements and weight loss pills says that green tea products – pills, extract and even the beverage itself – are able to speed up the destruction of abdominal fats, leading to a faster reduction of the belly fat layer and thus to a leaner body.
Hundreds of articles and web pages available out there suggest that green tea extract may have meaningful effects on the body’s ability to burn fats faster. Yet, most of the scientific papers discussing this topic refer to the weight loss effects of green tea in mice or other lab animals.
Are there enough scientific arguments to support the effectiveness of green tea as fat burner in humans?
Myth vs. facts
Researchers say caution should be used when interpreting animal data and applying them to humans. While scientists agree that green tea products can be efficient in reducing the body fat percentage and inhibiting the accumulation of new fats, they also highlight the fact that these products may not have the same effects on the human body and that better clinical trials are needed for establishing whether green tea can, in fact, cause significant weight reduction in humans.
ConsumerLabs.com, who provides independent test results and information on health and nutrition products, tested over 25 green tea supplements, teas and bottled drinks, in order to observe the effects of this tea on one’s body weight. They started with the premise that green tea supplements may aid in weight control, and that EGCG, one of the active compounds in this beverage, may support the reduction of body fat percentage.
This theory is backed up by scientific studies, numerous research papers showing that EGCG provides high amounts of polyphenols, which are proven to exert anti-inflammatory effects and to inhibit the accumulation of body fat by suppressing lipogenesis. Catechins in tea are known to interfere with the intestinal absorption of lipids, preventing the accumulation of fats and acting as effective, natural lipid-lowering agents.
Also, consumption of green tea is proven to increase thermogenesis, or the process through which heat is produced inside the human body. Thermogenesis enhances the energy expenditure and fat oxidation, helping in weight regulation.
Then, caffeine – which is found in green tea as well – is known to support weight reduction by increasing both the metabolic rate and thermogenesis. Moreover, the combination of caffeine with EGCG seems to have even more powerful effects, and contribute to more impressive results in terms of body fat reduction and metabolic rate.
The question is how much tea or green tea supplements should one use on a daily basis, to experience these effects? And would this be safe for one’s overall health? And what about the amount of caffeine that comes together with the ideal doses of green tea?
In order to experience the effects induced by green tea, the daily consumption of EGCG should be somewhere around 270 mg, in two or three doses. Some studies even suggest using higher doses for faster or more pronounced effects.
Now let’s look at the results obtained by ConsumerLabs. Their test showed that, depending on the brand, the green tea supplements provide between 22 mg and 300 mg of EGCG per suggested daily serving. As for caffeine, the tested products provided up to 130 mg of compound per dose (capsule or cup). Yet, for getting the needed amount of EGCG, one generally ends up consuming around 3 capsules or doses of green tea extract on a daily basis.
It’s generally agreed that getting 130 mg of caffeine per day is safe, and some scientists say that 300 mg of caffeine is still not threatening for one’s health. Based on the existing studies, we could conclude that getting 270 mg of EGCG in combination with up to 300 mg of caffeine per day can support the fat loss process in humans, without putting one’s health at risk.
This is the ideal case. In reality, this interesting study published in the Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise journal showed that 7 days of green tea extract ingestion can increase the lipolysis (destruction of fats), but has no effect on whole body fat oxidation in people practicing moderate-intensity exercises.
Another study published last year in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews showed that three months of daily consumption of green tea preparations only induced a small, statistically non-significant weight loss in overweight adults.
And last, this study showed that consumption of 960 ml of decaffeinated green tea for 6 months can cause a slight reduction in body weight and increase the metabolic rate, but doesn’t have significant effects on the weight or body composition.
What do all these results mean?
Green tea could be a natural solution for weight loss. It can inhibit the absorption of lipids, accelerate the metabolic rate and contribute to the reduction of body fat percentage, but only when it provides a certain daily amount of EGCG and caffeine.
Then, green tea alone is not able to cause significant improvements in one’s body weight, so for maximum benefits, the intake of this beverage should be coupled with high intensity exercises, as the effects are not impressive in overweight people doing moderate-intensity exercises. Still, getting that much caffeine while doing intense exercises may not be the best idea.
Conclusion: if you’re trying to drop the excess pounds, you shouldn’t rely on green tea only. This beverage has several health benefits and can help you lose the extra fats a little easier, but unless you’re physically active and practice intense exercises on a regular basis, you shouldn’t expect for green tea to act as a miracle beverage and melt away your excess fats overnight.
So a healthier option would consist in practicing physical activities regularly, watching your diet and drinking green tea for its other health benefits. Weights loss will come as a consequence of these lifestyle changes!