Can green tea help you lose weight?

We’ve been told time and again that it’s healthy to drink water – but it’s also healthy to drink green tea! In fact, tea is the second-most consumed drink in the world, with green tea as one of the most popular varieties. [1

There is plenty of research into green tea and its health benefits, as well as its side effects. The beverage traces its roots back to ancient China, where they used green tea for medicinal purposes. Green tea can improve cognitive function, reduce inflammation – and potentially boost your metabolism, helping you shed some kilos.

Can green tea help you lose weight? Let’s talk about the nutritional value of green tea, plus how the caffeine and catechins in green tea can help with metabolism and weight loss.

There is plenty of research into green tea and its health benefits, as well as its side effects

Nutritional value of green tea

Green tea is a type of tea that is made from the leaves of Camellia sinensis, which are unfermented. It contains caffeine and polyphenols. As a beverage, plain green tea can be beneficial to your health. It has antioxidants that may help protect against heart disease, cancer, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Throughout our lives, our cells undergo “oxidative stress”. This leads to cell damage, which is a key factor in diseases that cause our bodies to degenerate. Oxidative stress is triggered by an excessive amount of free radicals, which damage cells and alter DNA. Our body produces a small amount of free radicals through cellular metabolism, but we can pick up more through pollution or medication. [2]

The polyphenols in green tea trigger the production of antioxidants, which combat oxidative stress. 

Consumption of green tea also helps induce autophagy – a process in which our bodies clear out dead or damaged cells, and generate healthier, new ones. [3]

Moreover, green tea is a good source of caffeine (in smaller amounts than coffee) and catechins – two bioactive components that can boost a person’s metabolism and aid in weight loss.

Green tea is a type of tea that is made from the leaves of Camellia sinensis, which are unfermented.

There have been some studies into the link between caffeine and metabolism. In one such study, researchers found that 8mg/kg of caffeine from coffee increased metabolic rate significantly in the 3 hours following caffeine consumption. There was also a notable rise in fat oxidation in the last hour of the test.

Researchers noted a similar increase after 4mg/kg of caffeine.

The results of the study showed that consumption of caffeine can increase metabolic rate and fat oxidation. [4]

When it comes to green tea, one study showed that consuming 4 cups of green tea daily caused a decrease in body weight and waist circumference in diabetic patients. [5] With further studies, science may show a link between consuming green tea and weight loss even in non-diabetic persons.

Moreover, green tea extract may have positive effects on fat metabolism, both at rest and during exercise. The study did note, however, that the specific ways in which green tea extract affected and increased fat oxidation are unclear. [6]

These studies all show that the consumption of green tea alongside its caffeine content can increase a person’s metabolism. This can potentially lead to weight loss.

Catechins in tea associated with weight loss

Green tea has a much higher concentration of catechins than coffee or black tea. Catechins account for 30% of the dry weight of Camellia sinensis leaves, 65% of which is epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). The catechins in green tea influence metabolism by decreasing fat absorption and increasing fat excretion, as well as increasing thermogenesis and suppressing appetite.

In lab tests with mice, researchers found that the test subjects experienced significantly less food consumption and lower weight gain. They also experienced lower levels of cholesterol. [7]

Meanwhile, a study of Chinese adults saw that a catechin-enriched green tea beverage induced a notable loss in body weight and body fat. This shows an association between consuming green tea (which is rich in catechins) and weight loss. [8]

Lastly, ingredients in green tea – such as catechins and caffeine – show a link to weight management and weight loss. They increase the body’s expenditure of energy, which hastens fat oxidation and counters a decrease in metabolic rate. 

Research has shown that catechins and caffeine in green tea improve weight maintenance through improved thermogenesis (energy expenditure) and fat oxidation. [9]

Can green tea help me lose weight?

So – can green tea help with weight loss? Yes, sort of. There’s no definite scientific link just yet, but the associations show positive correlations between green tea consumption and body weight management. Both caffeine and catechins boost a person’s metabolism by increasing energy expenditure, metabolic rate, and fat oxidation.

This isn’t to say that you should immediately add large quantities of green tea to your diet. Always consult a registered dietitian first to ensure you’re making the necessary changes and taking the right steps towards a healthy diet and lifestyle. But there’s definitely no harm in drinking a cup or 3 of green tea a day – not just for weight loss, but for its other health benefits as well.

Plus, plain green tea is mostly water, and water has been shown to help with weight loss. [10]

Drinking green tea for your health

Just as berries and avocados are “superfoods”, green tea may very well be a “superdrink”. It’s rich in antioxidants and catechins, which are beneficial to our health – more so than most other kinds of tea available. These catechins, alongside caffeine, have shown promising positive links with weight loss since they boost a person’s metabolism.

Of course, this doesn’t mean drinking green tea will automatically let you shed some kilos. You’ll need to combine green tea consumption with a healthy diet and a good fitness routine to really see results. But for those of us who want an inch or two off our waistlines, brewed green tea could go a long way towards helping you lose weight – and become healthier overall, too.

REFERENCES

[1] https://www.teausa.com/teausa/images/Tea_Fact_Sheet_2019_-_2020._PCI_update_3.12.2020.pdf
[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3614697/
[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6412948/
[4] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7369170/
[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3908530/
[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3649093/
[7] https://www.pbrc.edu/training-and-education/community-health-resources/
pennington-nutrition-series/functional-foods/PNS_Green_Tea.pdf
[8] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1756464611001162
[9] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20156466/
[10] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/drinking-water-helps-with-weight-loss

Photography: Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels

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The information included in this article is for informational purposes only. The purpose of this webpage is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.