In 2737 BC, Emperor Shen Nung — the Divine Healer — caught a green tea blossom in his cup of hot water. Many tales of the miraculous healing powers of this beverage followed, and some were even true. What scientists know today is that green tea helps you safely lose weight by burning fat, especially the visceral fat in the abdominal region. Visceral fat accounts for the troublesome apple shape that leads to inflammatory conditions like obesity, metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Green tea curbs your appetite, increases your metabolism and boosts your endurance. That’s pretty miraculous.
1. Green tea maxes out metabolism. Green tea is considered thermogenic because it increases both your body’s metabolism and the number of calories burned. According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, participants who drank green tea increased the amount of energy expended over 24 hours by 4%. A Japanese study found that daily consumption of green tea for 12 weeks helped reduce body fat, body weight and waist circumference. A Chinese study of 182 overweight adults came to a similar conclusion, particularly in regard to trimming waistlines.
Ubiquitous across Asia, green tea contains four beneficial catechin flavonoids. These flavonoids promote endurance by improving fat-burning in the liver and muscle cells, freeing carbohydrates to be burned more slowly over a longer periods, increasing exercise times and weight loss. According to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, participants who drank catechin-rich green tea combined with exercise lost twice as much body weight as those in the non-catechin group. They also reduced both their abdominal fat and triglyceride levels in the cells.
2. Green tea promotes satiety. The primary catechin in green tea, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), affects leptin levels in your body so that your brain gets the signal that you’re full, thus curbing appetite. Preliminary research at the University of Chicago suggests that the EGCG in green tea helps suppress appetite by affecting leptin levels. Leptin is a protein hormone that signals your brain to eat when you’re hungry and to stop eating when you’re full. But chronic overeating (and eating unhealthy foods such as those sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup) can disrupt how leptin functions.
In the same way you can become resistant to the effects of insulin, you can become resistant to leptin. Even though your body has plenty of leptin signaling you to stop eating when you’re full, you literally don’t get the message. Your brain thinks your body is famished and therefore directs it to continue eating and store more fat.
Drinking green tea by itself won’t magically make you lose weight. To get the healing benefit from green tea, it’s best add it to a regimen of regular exercise and eating healthful foods.