Most people are well aware that the way to lose weight is to burn off more calories than we consume each day. In order to speed up this process, many people seek out anything that provides a helping hand, with weight loss teas high on the list. One weight loss aid that has proved highly beneficial is Green Tea. Green Tea has been demonstrated to regulate insulin levels, and also to lower bad cholesterol and triglycerides. It is also believed that it increases our metabolic rate which makes us burn fat quickly, and even that it switches off the receptors in the brain that urges us to eat.
Unlike many other weight loss aids, Green Tea is extremely healthy. It contains antioxidants that keep the body healthy and free from disease by fighting harmful free radicals. A Green Tea and antioxidant rich diet has been linked to reducing the risk of cancer and heart diseases. So not only does it help you keep slim, but provides many beneficial health advantages.
Green Tea Weight Loss Side Effects
Green tea has antioxidant properties, as it contains a high concentration of polyphenols, as explained by the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). It also may boost metabolism and help burn fat. You can use green tea for weight loss by drinking the tea or taking green tea as a supplement. One study, as noted by the UMMC, has found that green tea with caffeine improved weight loss and weight maintenance in overweight individuals.
Green tea contains caffeine, and drinking large amounts of caffeine can cause many side effects, according to the UMMC. This is particularly true for people not accustomed to caffeine. Possible side effects include dizziness, insomnia, anxiety, irritability, jittery feelings, restlessness and fast pulse. Large amounts of caffeine also can cause upset stomach, nausea and diarrhea. Caffeine overdose is possible, with symptoms of headache, abdominal spasms, nausea and vomiting. Caffeine overdose may call for medical attention.
Because it contains caffeine, green tea is a diuretic and causes the body to lose water, as explained by physician Andrew Weil. Dehydration may occur if you don’t replenish water lost through frequent urination, as cells start drawing water from the blood. Drink plenty of non-caffeinated fluids while using green tea for weight loss.
More Serious Effects
Caffeine can also lead to more serious health effects, according to Weil. It can result in heart palpitations and irregular heartbeat, and may cause or worsen high blood pressure. Caffeine also is associated with prostate problems and other urinary disorders. The substance is an irritant to the urinary tract and causes smooth muscle of the bladder and prostate to constrict, which can make urination difficult.
Some people have reported liver problems while taking concentrated green tea extract, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). This side effect is not associated with drinking green tea beverages or infusions. These cases are very rare and not definitively linked to green tea. The NIH recommends that people take concentrated green tea extracts with food, and stop using green tea extract and seek medical attention if signs of liver problems occur, such as dark urine or jaundice.
Green tea may cause a severe rise in blood pressure when taken with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), medications prescribed for treating depression, according to the UMMC. This side effect can be life-threatening. People taking MAOIs should not use green tea for weight loss or any other reason.
How Tea Gets its Colors
According to “The Washington Post,” all tea comes from the same plant–camellia sinensis–and the color of tea depends on its level of oxidation. The more oxidation, the darker the color. Black tea is fully oxidized and oolong tea, a brown tea, is partially oxidized. Green tea is treated with hot steam when it’s picked, a process that deactivates oxidation. White tea comes from the bud of the tea plant before chlorophyll turns it green. Like green tea, it is steamed. White tea and green tea contain the same antioxidants, but white tea has more, according to Demetre Whitmore, an oncology nutrition specialist at the Washington Cancer Institute at the Washington Hospital Center in Northwest.
Catechins in Tea
The metabolism-boosting chemicals in green and white tea are called catechins. Both oxidation and processing–packing tea into bags, bottling it as drinks–affects the number of catechins in your tea and its effectiveness as a weight loss supplement. You can check the labels for the number of catchins, epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG, contained in a serving of green or white tea. If you brew loose tea at home, a cup of green tea will contain about 127 milligrams of catechins, more than twice as many as oolong tea and four times as many as black tea, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. If you purchase tea bags or bottled green tea, the number of catechins may be significantly lower. Stash Darjeeling Organic Green Tea contains about 100 milligrams of catechins, but Celestial Seasonings Green Tea contains only 19. White tea contains more catechins and less caffeine than green tea.
Green Tea and Weight Loss
Several studies support claims that catechins affect weight loss. Kevin Maki, of Provident Clinical Research, compared the effects of green and black tea on weight loss. Some men in the study drank black tea containing 22 milligrams of catechins and some drank green tea containing 660 milligrams—the amount in about six cups. According to the study, reported in 2009 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, men who consumed the high amounts of catechins lost nearly twice as much weight–5.3 compared to 2.9 pounds–and experienced greater losses in waist size and body mass index.
Michael Boshmann and other researchers at the Center for Clinical Studies found that men who consumed 300 miligrams of catechins daily–about three cups of green tea–metabolized fat more quickly than men given a placebo. Boschmann, who reported his findings in 2007 in the “Journal of the American College of Nutrition,” said his results were promising but that more research was needed. M. Bose and other scientists at Rutgers University also found that green tea helped obese mice lose weight and rodents of normal weight retain their shapes, according to the study published in 2008 in the “Journal of Clinical Nutrition.”
Green and white tea may also protect you from some diseases, Whitmore says. She says the polyphenols in the tea protect against prostate cancer and that their antioxidants can reverse damage caused by free radicals in the body. Polyphenols may also prevent blood clotting and lower cholesterol, Whitmore says. If you are pregnant, nursing or have been advised by your doctor against caffeine consumption, you should seek medical advice before adding green or white tea to your diet.
Green Tea and Weight Loss
Clinical studies have linked green tea consumption with an elevated metabolism, increasing the rate at which the body burns fat, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. A separate study involving the consumption of green tea and caffeine among overweight individuals showed improved weight loss from regular green tea consumption. Although debate still exists as to which compound in green tea causes weight loss, some researchers believe that substances called catechins contribute to green tea’s fat-burning effects.
Calories and Weight Loss
By boosting your basal metabolic rate, or the number of calories your body would burn if you remained inactive, green tea helps increase the total number of calories you burn each day. A calorie deficit of 3,500 is required for each pound of fat you burn off — 500 calories per day to lose 1 pound a week. In other words, if the combined calories burned by your metabolism and physical activity level are higher than the amount you consume with foods and beverages, you will gradually begin losing weight over time.
Sweetened Green Tea
Unlike unsweetened green tea, the sucrose or liquid sugar in sweetened green tea may increase your total caloric intake. According to the What’s Cooking America website, adding sugar to a beverage increases its total caloric value by 15 calories for every 4 grams of sugar. If you are drinking a sweetened green tea product that contains 26 grams of sugar, the liquid sugar alone may account for nearly 100 calories per bottle, depending on the sweetener. For best results, shop around for a low-sugar, low-calorie sweetened green tea product, or use a low-fat sugar alternative, such as stevia.
Most green tea beverages are relatively safe for regular consumption. If you have a caffeine, sugar or other intolerance, talk to your doctor before drinking sweetened green tea. For a healthy alternative, look for decaffeinated green tea, or opt for white tea — a type of tea that’s naturally lower in caffeine.
Green tea contains high doses of antioxidant compounds called catechins that have been linked to heart health, weight loss and other benefits. Research published in 2006 in the “Journal of Medicinal Food” reports that weight loss due to thermogenesis — inducing fat breakdown by generating heat in the body — is primarily linked to the catechin epigallocatechin gallate, abbreviated as EGCG. Decaffeinating green tea may slightly reduce its catechin content, but it will still contain adequate amounts of EGCG.
Amounts and Considerations
Drugs.com recommends drinking 3 to 5 cups — 1,200 milliliters — of green tea per day. While drinking green tea as a beverage is safe, some individuals may experience headache pain, dizziness or digestive upset. Additionally, like other types of tea, it can hinder how your body absorbs iron and folate. Green tea also contains vitamin K, which increases blood clotting and may interact with some anti-clotting medications. If you are taking any type of medication, ask your doctor or pharmacist if it might adversely interact with green tea and other foods.
Capsules that contain green tea extract for weight loss usually contain concentrated doses of EGCG. This antioxidant compound is also available on its own in capsule form, suggesting that it is the primary ingredient in green tea for weight loss. Drugs.com notes that a daily dose of 800 milligrams of EGCG per day for up to four weeks has been shown to be safe in studies. Excess amounts may lead to toxicity in the liver. To reduce the risk of side effects, take any type of green tea extract supplement with food. Consult your doctor before taking green tea or other herbal extracts for weight loss.
The potent antioxidants in green tea include EGCG, epigallocatechin and epicatechin. A review published in 2001 in the journal “Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention” notes that all of the catechin compounds contain health properties other than stimulating fat-burning and weight loss. These include antioxidant activity that may help reduce your risk for certain cancers and lower high cholesterol levels. However, further clinical studies are needed to confirm these benefits.