Here’s one you may have heard about. Drinking tea — especially green tea– can help prevent belly fat, boost metabolism and speed up weight loss.
One way that green tea prevents belly fat is by counteracting cortisol. You might remember the blog post about cortisol. It’s the “fight or flight” hormone that is produced when you are under stress. Cortisol causes the build-up of belly fat — the most dangerous and unhealthy, not to mention unsightly — kind of fat. L-theanine is an amino acid that gives green tea its taste. It causes the release of dopamine, which counteracts the effect of cortisol. Dopamine sends signals to the autopilot saying, “Relax. Kick back. All is right with the world!” The autopilot sends the signal, “We’re okay. Call off the pressure.” You have a sense of well-being and the fat-causing cortisol ebbs.
Of course, if you are under severe stress with impending deadlines or great danger, a cup of tea won’t fix you. Under more normal circumstances, though, it can give you a little edge and make you feel a bit better. Can’t hurt!
Another substance in green tea that aids in the weight battle is epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG for short). Scientists at Penn State did a study to check out whether EGCG really makes a difference in fat gain. They fed two groups of mice a high-fat diet. One group also got a supplement of EGCG. All the mice became fat, but the group with the supplements gained 45% more slowly than the others. It didn’t appear to decrease the appetites of the mice. Scientists concluded that EGCG decreased the capacity of the mice to absorb fats and increased the ability to use up the fat.
A study about the catechins in green tea, yet another substance said to help lose weight, was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in January of 2005. It described a 12 week long double-blind study in which 35 healthy Japanese men with similar body type and waist sizes were split into two groups. One groups received 690 mg. of green tea extract catechins and the other received 22 mg. The group with the higher dose lost more total body weight, BMI, waist size, and belly fat. Other studies I looked at had similar results. Those which included exercise showed a more marked improvement than those which involved just swallowing supplements or drinking tea.
So, it appears that there is some clinical proof that green tea does boost metabolism and might be a help on your journey to better health. Just don’t add sugar or milk to your tea, as both will counteract the benefits. Also keep in mind that you would have to drink about ten cups of green tea a day to get the equivalent benefit the mice received in the Penn State study, although the scientists said that drinking less would still be helpful.
And as we keep saying, drinking tea isn’t enough on its own — just as adding spices and drinking ice water aren’t enough by themselves to make you drop significant pounds. Added to the major changes you are making, though, a few cups of green tea can be both helpful, and pleasant!
Eating to live and living for Christ,
Susan Jordan Brown