drinking green tea for weight loss

Green tea is today hailed as being far much more than just a healthy beverage especially considering the plethora of research studies now providing better information and understanding of its antioxidant abilities, general health benefits and weight loss effects.

Weight loss teas are a growing trend today in the weight loss industry and green tea has specifically been the major focus given its historical background and proven effectiveness. However, while green tea has come to be generally accepted as an effective weight loss supplement, how exactly and what is it that gives green tea this ability?

Unlike some decades ago when all we had were speculations and hearsays about the effective of green tea in achieving real weight loss, there are today a hoard of compelling research evidence that suggests that green tea increases metabolism to target fat stores and aid in weight loss efforts.

Green tea contains a group of bio-active compounds composed of four primary polyphenols (epicatechin, epicatechin gallate, epigallocatechin, and epigallocatechin gallate – EGCG) that have been documented to influence genetic signaling and metabolic rate. Collectively known as "green tea catechins," these polyphenol compounds belonging to the flavan-3-ols family provide the main health benefit of green tea. Polyphenols have strong antioxidants properties which help to protect the body against damage caused by free radicals.

The most active of the catechin antioxidants in green tea is the Epigallocatechin gallate which is also known as EGCG. EGCG is considered to have 100% more antioxidant power than Vitamin C and up to 200 times more powerful than vitamin E.

Consequently, most of the health and weight loss benefits derived from the consumption of green tea and green tea extracts such as capsules are based on the fact that green tea leaves contain about 30-40% polyphenol antioxidants. Black tea on the other hand due its longer fermentation periods contains only about 3-10% polyphenols.

EGCG and Caffeine Metabolism Boosting Effects

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Research indicate that drinking green tea speeds up the body’s metabolic rate by up to 4% thus making it easier to accelerate the loss of stored body fat and helping to reduce fat storage with little or no effort other than just drinking your 2-4 cups of green tea daily. Over time, this seemingly insignificant 4% metabolic increase and calorie burning effect can become substantial in increasing your overall fat burning capability.

This metabolic increase is achieved by the action of the major active ingredient in green tea, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which inhibits the activity of the enzymes that breakdown the neurotransmitter known as Norepinephrine.

Norepinephrine (NE) is generally considered a sympathetic nervous system stimulant. It is released onto the heart, blood vessels, and other organs by the sympathetic nervous system and into the bloodstream by the adrenal gland as part of the fight-or-flight response. It increases the state of many of the body’s processes and sends the nervous system into a state of shock.

The stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system increases the process of thermogenesis – generation of heat in the body. Thermogenesis is generally considered to cause increased expenditure of calories (a measure of metabolism) while also having a significant effect on body fat oxidation.

This increased metabolism and fat burning effect was initially attributed to the caffeine found in green tea – the caffeine content of a 6-ounce cup of green tea being about 25mg. However, a 1999 study publication in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that the use of green extracts not only promoted thermogenesis, but that unlike caffeine which arouses the nervous system and speeds up your heartbeat when used alone, the use of green tea extracts according to the study was “not accompanied by an increase in heart rate."

Therefore, while the consumption of green tea increases the burning of calories and promotes weight loss, the thermogenesis effect does not however cause an increase in heart rate.

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This normalization of heart rate is the result of the effect of another very rare ingredient in green tea known as L-theanine. It is secreted from the small intestine into the bloodstream where it is transported into the brain producing a state of improved relaxation and effortless alertness which effectively cancels out the harmful effects of the caffeine.

Research therefore suggests that green tea’s combination of caffeine and the amino acid L-theanine can significantly help to improve alertness, reaction time, and memory while also combating the effects of stress by creating a relaxed state of mind.

Reduced Blood Sugar and Insulin Levels

While the increased metabolic rate effect of green tea alone is enough to give kudos to the weight loss effect of green tea, green tea however has more than that to offer. Green tea has also been found to be able to effectively reduce blood sugar levels and therefore the reduced production of insulin.

In an April 2006 edition of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, a published study by researchers found that EGCG had the ability to influence the secretion of insulin through inhibiting the activity of glutamate dehydrogenase (GDH) which plays a dominant role in stimulating insulin secretion. The study concluded that EGCG could inhibit GDH and consequently inhibit the secretion of insulin.

Furthermore, in vitro (test tube) tests in a 2002 study publication in the Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry, found that green tea as well as oolong and black teas increased insulin sensitivity and therefore its effectiveness by more than 15 percent.

The reduction of blood sugar levels and therefore reduction of insulin production can therefore be considered another major reason why green tea has proven itself to have significant weight loss effects.

Therefore, the more tea you drink, the lower your insulin levels and the higher the effectiveness of insulin. This combined effect increases your ability to convert sugars into energy, which also increases your overall ability to lose weight.

Triglyceride and Cholesterol Reduction

Green tea has equally been shown to help reduce blood fats such as triglycerides and cholesterol. EGCG influences blood cholesterol levels by helping to decrease LDL "bad" cholesterol while increasing HDL "good" cholesterol levels.

EGCG therefore helps to clear the blood of triglycerides before they are deposited into fat cells (adipose tissues) and generally the fewer triglycerides there are in the bloodstream, the lower the blood cholesterol levels. Green tea also helps to stop blood clots from forming which could otherwise partially or completely block arteries or vein.

A clearer artery gets more oxygen to transports in the bloodstream which increases the body’s ability to produce more energy and thereby allowing you to expend more energy, burn more calories and losing more weight.

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