Green tea is considered by several nutrition experts as one of the healthiest beverages in the world. Formerly, a favourite primarily of its native China, it has successfully made its way into the mainstream cultures of even coffee-loving countries such as the U.S. In India too, the green tea trend has caught on in a big way and it looks to stay.
Much healthier than our ubiquitous Masala Chai and that much lighter on our digestive system, green tea has innumerable and potent health benefits. It improves brain function and even protects our teeth against cavities! No wonder then, it is regarded as a super food by most dieticians, doctors, and nutritionists.
But one of green tea’s biggest claims to fame is that it can help you lose weight. So,what makes green tea, a weight watcher’s favourite beverage?
Here are not 1 but 5 reasons:
- Green tea contains components that aid in fat loss
The most well known among these components is caffeine which though found chiefly in coffee, is also present in moderate quantities in green tea (24-40 mg in a cup). Caffeine not only makes your brain more active but also helps to burn fat and improve your performance during a workout.
However, a lesser-known but far more powerful component in green tea is EGCG (Epigallocatechingallate), a kind of antioxidant (substances present in certain foods that prevent cell damage), which is found in abundant quantities only in this beverage. Apart from being beneficial for cardiovascular and brain health, EGCG also aids in weight loss.
A study revealed that consuming 270 mg of EGCG daily boosts body metabolism by as much as 4%.While the participants in this study took supplements, (As 270 mg of EGCG equals 10 cups of green tea which exceeds the recommended consumption), it still shows that sipping green tea in judicious amounts can only help you shed those pounds, even if moderately so.
- Green tea can facilitate in activating fat from cells
Green tea consists of certain compounds that enhance the effect of hormones that burn fat in the body. Essentially, these hormones break down the fat in your system and convert it into energy thus helping you lose weight while giving you more energy to lead an active lifestyle.
- Green tea accelerates fat burning, especially while exercising
Tea is a popular ingredient in most weight loss pills or supplements. A study showed that men who consumed green tea supplement before exercise lost 17% more fat than their counterparts who didn’t consume the extract. This study highlights that green tea can substantially increase the power exercising has on fat burning.
- Green tea can enhance body metabolism causing greater calorie-burn 24×7
Several studies indicate that green tea can help us burn additional calories, even while we’re asleep.
Whilst in most findings, these totals about a 3-4% rise, some studies show as much as a whopping 8% growth.
Though most studies had a short time span (1-3 days), there is also some proof that the increase in metabolism continues permanently.
However, all studies don’t confirm this finding so it can be inferred that the effect on metabolism varies from one individual to another.
- Green tea could aid in reducing harmful abdominal fat
One of the most harmful types of fat that is linked to serious illnesses such as Type 2 Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease is the belly fat that surrounds the organs. A major chunk of the weight loss that takes place through green tea is of this kind of fat.Hence, sipping green tea curbs your risk of contracting such dangerous and potentially fatal diseases in the long run.
But just like any other food, green tea can turn counterproductive for your health if not consumed in the right manner. On the flipside, there are certain practices, which can make consuming it even healthier and/or tastier.
So what are some of these dos and don’ts for consuming green tea?
Do try out different green tea variants
If you’re bored of sipping regular green tea, you could try out exciting variants with lemon, peppermint, pomegranate, etc. The flavoured varieties don’t reduce the health benefits and yet add that extra zing to your cuppa.
Do feel free to take a green tea supplement if you dislike the beverage
So green tea isn’t exactly your thing, but you still want in on the benefits? You could try green tea extracts or supplements, especially before a workout to fully harness their weight-loss properties. A word of caution here: Don’t exceed the recommended dosage or else it might turn toxic in your body.
Do try out iced green tea if it’s too hot for a cuppa
If the sweltering Indian summer makes you positively swear off warm beverages, try sipping on some cool and refreshing iced green tea instead. Do keep in mind though that too much ice or water would dilute its nutritional value.
Do add a dash of honey if you like it sweet
We Indians tend to have a sweet tooth, and thus a proclivity to add sugar to various beverages be it tea, coffee or even juice. Break this unhealthy habit by adding honey to your green tea instead. Honey satisfies your sugar cravings while at the same time helps in weight loss by mobilizing the fat in your body.
Don’t consume dairy with green tea
Most of us Indians grow up drinking milk in our tea, sometimes with a dash of ginger for that quintessential flavour. While you can easily add the latter in your green tea, the former isn’t advisable at all. In fact you should altogether abstain from consuming dairy products while drinking green tea as dairy reduces the effect green tea has on accelerating your metabolism.
Don’t reuse teabags more than twice
It’s a bad idea to reuse green tea bags because the caffeine content in them is extremely high. Besides, used green tea bags are more prone to infestation by microbes.
Again, there are certain times of the day when you can maximize the benefits of drinking green tea and others, when it’s a good idea to lay off the teapot.
So, what are the worst and best times to drink green tea for healthy and effective weight loss?
The Good Times
As a pre-workout drink to make your exercise more effective
Exercising for as few as 3 hours a week with green tea as a pre-workout drink goes a long way in accelerating abdominal fat loss.
Besides, green tea gives you better stamina and energy for a more intensive work out.
Before a meal to reduce your hunger
Drinking green tea before a meal helps you curb your appetite, so you (hopefully) end up eating less than you normally would.
After junk food or a rich dessert to feel active
Sipping some green tea after a heavy, indulgent meal reduces the lethargy that bingeing on junk food produces. Besides, it helps you fight that wave of nausea you often experience after overeating. Also, since green tea is so rich in antioxidants, it even prevents the cell damage junk food causes after entering our system.
When your stomach is empty/ first thing in the morning, to prevent indigestion
You might feel like you can’t get out of bed without a caffeine kick, but drinking green tea or for that matter even coffee first thing in the morning, can upset your stomach balance, make you feel queasy,and cause digestive problems.
Right after a healthy meal for proper nutrient absorption
Drinking green tea immediately after a healthy meal may interfere with your body’s absorption of nutrients from that meal because of the caffeine and tannin present in the tea. It also dilutes your gastric juices, thereby causing digestive trouble. If you really have the urge for a pick me up, just wait for half an hour or so, before you drink the cup of green tea.
Late in the night or just before you sleep to stay restful
The caffeine present in the tea can make your brain more active and reduce sleepiness thus causing a disruption in your sleep cycle if you drink it before bedtime.
And just before you drink to your health, a final word of caution is necessary. Excessive consumption of green tea may cause adverse effects that range from damaging your liver to inhibiting the iron absorption in your body. So, how much is too much of a green thing?
How many cups of green tea can you drink daily to stay healthy? (And when should you skip it completely)
Most experts suggest not exceeding green tea consumption by 5 cups a day. And if your drink coffee, soda or other forms of caffeine, this intake should be cut down even further.
Further, if you drink a type of green tea that contains the whole leaf, such as Matcha green tea, 2 cups a day are ample enough to get you all the health benefits without the negative effects.
Those who suffer from any autoimmune disease (A condition in which your body attacks the healthy cells of your body) such as asthma, cancer, allergies, or even a viral infection, should skip green tea altogether as it can deteriorate their condition.
So finally,where does green tea really fit into your weight loss plan?(The long and short of it)
Studies show that while consuming green tea may lead to weight loss, the amount lost by it isn’t so major in itself. Moreover, if you’re trying to significantly lose weight, you definitely can’t substitute green tea with exercise or a healthy diet. At the same time, green tea can successfully play a complementary role in your weight-loss regime by facilitating healthy weight reduction and fighting dangerous fat without causing any adverse effects in the short or the long run.
So, raise a toast along with some tea and say cheers to a healthier, happier, and slimmer you!