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Green Tea for Weight Loss—Fact or Fiction?

By Fitoru | 25 January 2019
cup of jasmine tea

Green tea supplements stormed the market with promises they would help you lose weight. In fact, according to Consumer Reports, people spent $140 million on green tea supplements in 2015. But does using green tea for weight loss really work? It depends on the expert you ask.

Green tea supplements and the much healthier (and cheaper) green tea, can increase your metabolism to help you burn more fat and calories, states Dr. David Nieman, in the Consumer Reports interview. Dr. Nieman points explicitly to the combination of caffeine and the antioxidant catechin.

Researchers from across the globe continue to study green tea supplements and green tea for weight loss, with some studies pointing to significant weight loss, while others show little or moderate weight loss. But the takeaway here is that researchers have yet to determine the optimal amount and type of green tea that needs to be consumed daily to achieve significant weight loss.

Green tea weight loss results are possible, but as new research shows, weight loss doesn’t happen just by taking a pill. Promises of drinking green tea to lose weight without exercise are merely a marketing ploy and should be taken with a grain of salt (or a cup of tea!).

It is important to note that green tea’s health benefits extend way beyond weight loss! In fact, drinking green tea is one of the top ways to detox your body. Green tea is a natural diuretic, and it is loaded with antioxidants that reduce inflammation, and support cardiovascular health and kidney and liver function too.

What Is Green Tea?

Black Tea vs. Green Tea

The leaves of the Camellia sinensis are used to make both black tea and green tea. Black tea is processed by rolling the fresh leaves tightly and then exposing them to air to start the natural fermentation process. During fermentation of the tea leaves, the leaves turn dark brown and the flavor intensifies.

Green tea, on the other hand, is not fermented but treated immediately after harvesting in such a way as to keep it from fermenting naturally. As you will see below, green tea leaves may be pan-fired, steamed, or otherwise processed to retain its color, nutrients, and earthy flavor.

Types of Green Tea for Weight Loss

When searching for a green tea to help you lose weight, it is helpful to understand the types of green tea available and how their processing affects the weight-loss-fighting antioxidants—catechins. Here are nine types of green teas readily available in the United States.

Japanese Green Teas

Several varieties of Japanese green teas are actually covered before harvesting to create a more intense color and lighter flavor. After harvest, Japanese green tea leaves are steamed to prevent the natural fermentation process that transforms tea leaves into black tea.

Sencha

Sencha is a Japanese green tea that is grown in direct sunlight. Not all green teas are grown in the sun as this causes a more earthy and intense flavor—but sunshine also allows for the development of more fat-fighting catechins! Sencha is one of the best green teas for weight loss. It is believed that the first harvest of the year produces the best leaves. Sencha leaves are steamed, dried, and then rolled to intensify the flavor.

Fukamushi Sencha

Fukamushi Sencha is steamed twice as long as regular Sencha green tea resulting in a darker color and stronger taste. The steaming causes the tea leaves to be a finer texture, and loose leaf green tea of this type contains many active compounds that are easily absorbed by the body, according to manufacturer ITOEN-Global.

Gyokuro

Gyokuro green tea is quite similar to Sencha green tea, except that sunlight is limited for the last three weeks before harvesting. Gyokuro green tea is covered with a cloth or screen to keep light from hitting the new tea leaves while they are growing. This suppresses the generation of catechins and results in a more vibrant, less astringent flavor.

Kabusecha

Kabusecha green tea is covered one week before harvesting to block the sunlight. The new tea leaves have a darker color and a richer and less astringent flavor than Sencha green tea. If you prefer a milder green tea but still want to drink green tea for weight loss, kabusecha green tea just might be the one for you.

Tencha

Tencha green tea is covered 21 days before harvesting, and the leaves are steamed, dried, and then removed from the vines. It is a very similar process to Gyokuro green tea, except that the leaves are not rolled.

Matcha

Matcha green tea is made from Tencha green tea that is stone ground immediately before shipping. When you purchase matcha, you don’t get the typical green tea leaves and stems, you get a brightly colored powder that contains the whole leaf. Matcha is considered more nutritious than leaf teas since you are consuming the entire leaf. Matcha may be the best green tea for weight loss because of its preservation of nutrients.

Shincha

Shincha green tea is refreshing and light. It comes from the first harvest of the year and is considered a “new tea.” Shincha is lower in caffeine and catechins than other green teas on the list and is likely not the best green tea for weight loss.

Chinese Green Teas

Chinese-style green teas are pan-fired in a pan or rotating drum to stop the oxidation and fermentation process. The type of firing, the amount of heat, and the number of times the leaves are heated depend on the type of Chinese green tea desired. Generally, the heating of the tea leaves is thought to give this variety a nutty and toasted flavor.

Longjing or Dragonwell

Dragonwell green tea has an incredibly short harvest period—roughly only a month. After pan-firing in a large bowl that looks like an enormous wok, the leaves are left flat, instead of rolled like many other green teas. The result? This Chinese green tea brews up light golden in color and buttery in flavor. According to the boutique tea seller,The Right Tea, Longjing tea is rich in antioxidants, amino acids, and vitamin C.

Gunpowder

Gunpowder green tea is unique in that the leaves are withered, steamed, rolled, and dried creating tiny little pellets. When the tea pellets are exposed to hot water, the leaves unroll, or “explode.” This green tea has a distinctive smoky flavor, and gunpowder tea is often blended with spearmint tea to create Moroccan mint tea.

Green Tea for Weight Loss—How It Works

Why does green tea help with weight loss? As we mentioned above, green tea is rich in antioxidants, especially the fat-fighter catechin. Here are five ways green tea supports weight loss.

1. Contains Natural Diuretic Compounds

Green tea contains caffeine, which is a known diuretic. If you drink 3 to 4 cups of green tea a day, in addition to your regular liquid intake, you will see an increase in urination, helping to flush toxins and excess water from your body.

2. Boosts Metabolism

Researchers from the Nutritional and Toxicology Research Institute Maastricht in the Netherlands have confirmed what many people have assumed over the years—green tea boosts metabolism and increases weight loss. The meta-analysis published in the International Journal of Obesity identified catechins as the compound that significantly decreases body weight and helps to maintain body weight after significant weight loss. The researchers do note that “habitual caffeine intake and ethnicity” may also play a role, as these two factors may affect the behavior of the catechins.

3. Boosts Fat Loss

According to a small clinical study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, green tea extract increases fax oxidation in healthy young men. The researchers from the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences at the University of Birmingham in the U.K. identified that the flavonoids in green tea increase fat loss during moderate-intensity exercise and can help to improve glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity. This study shows that green tea positively impacts insulin serum levels much like garcinia cambogia does.

4. Improves Exercise Performance

There may not be as much caffeine in green tea as there is in coffee, but caffeine is a stimulant that can improve exercise performance. In a study published in the journal Sports Medicine, researchers found that low doses of caffeine, less than 200 milligrams, before and or during training improve vigilance, alertness, mood, and cognitive processes. Depending on the type of green tea consumed, you can expect between 25 milligrams and 50 milligrams of caffeine per serving.

5. Targets Belly Fat

Does green tea reduce belly fat? A double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized trial says it does! In fact, the researchers found that catechin-enriched green tea causes significant loss of belly fat. The clinical study published in the Journal of Functional Foods showed that when study participants consumed 609.3 milligrams of catechins with 68.7 milligrams of caffeine a day for 12 weeks, visceral fat, or belly fat, was significantly reduced as was body weight.

What Are the Side Effects of Drinking Green Tea?

Green tea is considered “likely safe” for most adults when consumed in moderate amounts. However, individuals who are sensitive to caffeine, or those who drink high doses may experience mild to severe side effects including:

  • Headache
  • Nervousness
  • Insomnia
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Irritability
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Tremors
  • Heartburn
  • Dizziness
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Convulsions
  • Confusion

Green tea is “possibly safe” for children in small amounts, and for pregnant or breastfeeding women. If you are pregnant, limit yourself to a maximum of 2 cups of green tea a day, as green tea has been linked to an increased risk of birth defects and miscarriages.

If you have any of the following conditions or are on any of the medications below talk to your doctor about green tea and whether or not you should limit or avoid green tea altogether.

Green tea may not be suitable for the following medical conditions:

  • Anemia
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Heart conditions
  • Diabetes
  • Diarrhea
  • Glaucoma
  • High blood pressure
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Liver disease
  • Osteoporosis

If you take any of the medications below, speak to your doctor before taking green tea supplements or drinking green tea:

AmphetaminesCocaineEphedrine
Adenosine
(Adenocard)
AntibioticsBirth control pills
Cimetidine
(Tagamet)
Clozapine
(Clozaril)
Dipyridamole
(Persantine)
Dipyridamole
(Persantine)
Disulfiram
(Atabuse)
Estrogens
Fluvoxamine
(Luvox)
LithiumDepression medications
(MAOIs)
Hepatotoxic drugs
(acetaminophen, fluconazole,
erytdromycin, lovastatin, and otders)
AnticoagulantsAntiplatelet drugs
NicotinePentobarbital
(Nembutal)
Phenylpropanolamine
Riluzole
(Rilutek)
TheophyllineVerapamil

Are you ready to transform your body with green tea?

How to Prepare Green Tea for Weight Loss

Green tea is generally considered safe when consumed in moderation. Drink 2 to 3 cups of green tea a day, which will give you somewhere between 300 grams and 600 grams of catechins. Instead of green tea in bags, opt for loose leaf tea to gain maximum health benefits.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon green tea leaves
  • 8 ounces water
  • 1 teaspoon honey, if desired
  • Squirt of fresh lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Bring 8 ounces of water to a boil.
  2. Place 1 tablespoon of green tea leaves in a tea basket or reusable tea bag.
  3. Remove the water from the heat and rest at room temperature for 10 minutes. (Boiling water may kill or damage many of green tea’s nutrients!)
  4. Pour the hot water over the tea leaves and let the tea brew for one to two minutes.
  5. Add a teaspoon of honey, or a squirt of lemon, if desired.

8 Ways to Enjoy Green Tea—Besides a Cup of Tea

Matcha green tea powder allows you to enjoy the antioxidants, flavonoids, and other nutrients in delightfully different ways than just a cup of tea! But our list doesn’t stop with just matcha recipes. We’ve even included a recipe to help you create your own signature green tea!

Matcha Be Crazy Smoothie

Start your day with this delicious detox smoothie, featuring matcha green tea powder, fresh coconut, coconut milk, spinach, dates for sweetness, and activated charcoal ice cubes to support detoxification.

Matcha Green Smoothie Bowl

If you prefer more texture than that of a traditional smoothie, this smoothie bowl from the Minimalist Baker is perfect for you. This recipe is a delicious combination of bananas, pineapple, coconut milk, matcha green tea powder, and kale. For texture and flavor, top the smoothie bowl with fresh berries, chia seeds, coconut flakes, and moderate FODMAP nuts like almonds.

Detox Matcha Banana Kale Smoothie

From Tastefulventure Foodie Adventures comes this vegan-friendly smoothie created to help you detoxify your body! Unsweetened coconut milk from the dairy section, matcha green tea powder, frozen bananas, a dash of honey, and cancer-fightingkale are blended together to create a creamy and delicious smoothie.

Green Ginger Mint Tea

Are you ready to try your hand at mixing up your own dried tea? Canadian Living has an excellent recipe for creating a sweet and nutrient-rich green tea. Fresh spearmint leaves, tangerine rinds, and ginger are dried and then combined with gunpowder green tea to create this budget-friendly and delicious tea mixture. This recipe makes up to 30 servings so you can share with your friends.

Avocado and Lime Green Tea Smoothie

To Her Core has created a silky and delicious smoothie loaded with healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Instead of matcha green tea powder, this smoothie recipe uses brewed and cooled green tea, avocado, apples, zucchini, broccoli, ginger, parsley, lime, kale, almond milk, and chia seeds. The flavor is complex and quite delightful.

Coconut Matcha Smoothie

This vibrant smoothie uses just five ingredients: bananas, coconut palm sugar, coconut milk, matcha green tea powder, and ice cubes to create a filling and delicious smoothie. From The Worktop Everyday Breakfasts, this vegan smoothie will surprise you with its rich flavor and a healthy dose of energizing caffeine.

Matcha Vanilla and Lemongrass Bars with Dark Chocolate

Now for something sweet! From Comfort Bites Blog comes this fantastic recipe for green tea bars with vanilla, lemongrass, and dark chocolate. Did you know dark chocolate is considered a weight-loss superfood? When partnered with the catechins in green tea and the healthy fats in the coconut butter and coconut oil—this sweet treat has unlimited possibilities.

Coconut Matcha Protein Bars

Okay AIP and Paleo folks—What Great Grandma Ate has created a delicious green tea protein bar just for you. This recipe contains grass-fed collagen, coconut milk, vanilla, coconut flakes, coconut oil, sea salt, and a touch of honey for sweetness. And this recipe couldn’t be more straightforward! Toss all the ingredients into a blender and process until smooth. Next, pour the contents of the blender into an 8 x 4 loaf pan, smooth with a spoon, and freeze for 15 minutes before cutting into squares.

Are you ready to transform your body with green tea?

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