The Effects of Green Tea on Weight Management

December 3, 2012 | Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist

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 The Effects of Green Tea on Weight Management
Green tea is a rich source of polyphenol catechins. Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is the most active form of the catechins responsible for green tea’s antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and metabolic effects. Green tea also contains caffeine, which appears to act synergistically with EGCG to assist metabolism. A recent meta-analysis of all human green tea weight loss studies1 found that green tea containing caffeine works best, and produces a statistically significant reduction in body weight, body mass index, and waistline.

In a randomized placebo controlled trial moderately overweight adults consumed 1,900 mgs of green tea catechins per day for 90 days. The green tea also contained 400 mg of caffeine. At the end of the study the people in the green tea group lost 2.64 pounds on average, and ¾ inch from their waistline and also reduced body mass index--not bad considering that no dietary or exercise changes were part of the study.

A 12-week randomized controlled trial3 with 60 overweight adults was performed in a hospital setting with all 60 participants placed on a diet that included three meals per day. All the food was prepared for the participants. Half the group received green tea. Those in the green tea group lost significantly more weight--24 pounds--over the 12 week period. The researchers demonstrated that weight loss occurred by green tea increasing energy expenditure and fat oxidation.

Consumption of 582 mg of green tea catechins per day for 12 weeks in type 2 diabetic patients5, compared to a control group of diabetic patients, enabled a statistically significant reduction in their waistline (abdominal fat). Importantly, green tea catechins promoted a restored insulin production by the pancreas. Catechins caused a significant increase in adiponectin, the important hormone signal coming from fat that improves insulin resistance. The combination of diabetic medication and green tea produced a statistically significant reduction in hemoglobin A1C. These results indicate that even modest intake of green tea catechins improves blood sugar control in type 2 diabetic patients. When blood sugar control is being improved in conjunction with a trend of weight loss, health is being restored.

A study published in 2010 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition7 showed that a combination of green tea, resveratrol, vitamin E, vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids, and tomato extract given to overweight men for five weeks raised their adiponectin level by seven percent. The researchers documented numerous favorable metabolic changes indicating: modulated inflammation within white adipose tissue, improved endothelial function of arteries, improved antioxidant function, and increased fat burning by the liver.

It is well-known that being overweight is associated with increased inflammation, both within white adipose tissue and around your body. One way to help calm inflammation is through the function of specialized regulatory T cells8 that initiate signals that are anti-inflammatory. A recent study in the British Journal of Nutrition9 found that overweight humans have fewer of these important regulatory T cells than normal weight people and the T cells they did have were less active in terms of quenching inflammation. The researchers went on to expose the regulatory T cells of the overweight people to ECGC and found that the T cells woke up and started producing anti-inflammatory signals and were then able to cause the reduction in NF-kappaB, the primary inflammatory gene signal. Researchers also showed that ECGC increased anti-inflammatory activation in the regulatory T cells of the normal weight people in their study.

Further insights into the molecular mechanisms of green tea come from a variety of recent animal and cell studies. Studies with fat cells show that green tea catechins turn on gene signals that produce adiponectin10. Green tea has been shown to blunt the effect of insulin on baby fat cells11, helping prevent them from turning into mature fat storing fat cells. Another study shows that green tea prevents the accumulation of fat12 inside fat cells. While yet another study shows that green tea turns on genes within fat cells that dispose of calories as heat13 (a helpful way to get rid of excess). Collectively, green tea induces multiple favorable effects on white adipose tissue, which are supportive of weight loss.

Transgenic mice--mice that make no leptin--(ob/ob) experience unrelenting appetite, obesity, and fat accumulation in all the wrong places, such as the liver. In this extreme model of malfunction green tea was able to prevent fat from accumulating in the liver15. This finding is significant since fat accumulation in the human liver is a key marker that metabolic health is in big trouble.

A recent study also showed green tea helps build bone17. Green tea catechins significantly boosted the activity of bone building cells known as osteoblasts while reducing the activity of the osteoclasts that take down bone. A significant reduction of the primary inflammatory gene signal, NF-kappaB, was associated with these positive findings. Not only is this good news as yet another bone helping nutrient, but new science is also showing that positive bone health and proper metabolism are highly linked.

Green tea is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world. Dietary supplements that concentrate the active components of green tea offer consumers a novel tool to assist multiple aspects of metabolism. Combining green tea with appropriate diet and exercise yields the best results, which is true for any dietary supplement. Green tea is synergistic with many other nutrients and is a worthy candidate for any person seeking to manage his or her weight.

Referenced Studies

  1. ^ Green Tea Effect on Body Composition  Am J Clin Nutr  Phung OJ, Baker WL, Matthews LJ, Lanosa M, Thorne A, Coleman CI.
  2. ^ A Green Tea Weight Loss Trial  Obesity  Wang H, Wen Y, Du Y, Yan X, Guo H, Rycroft JA, Boon N, Kovacs EM, Mela DJ.
  3. ^ Green Tea Weight Loss in Obese Individuals  Physiol Behav.  Auvichayapat P, Prapochanung M, Tunkamnerdthai O, Sripanidkulchai BO, Auvichayapat N, Thinkhamrop B, Kunhasura S, Wongpratoom S, Sinawat S, Hongprapas P.
  4. ^ Green Tea and Cholesterol Reduction in Obese Women  Clin Nutr.   Hsu CH, Tsai TH, Kao YH, Hwang KC, Tseng TY, Chou P.
  5. ^ Green Tea Helps Blood Sugar Control in Type II Diabetics  Obesity  Nagao T, Meguro S, Hase T, Otsuka K, Komikado M, Tokimitsu I, Yamamoto T, Yamamoto K.
  6. ^ Green Tea Can Help Obese Children  Obesity  Matsuyama T, Tanaka Y, Kamimaki I, Nagao T, Tokimitsu I.
  7. ^ Green Tea and Other Antioxidants Assist Metabolic Profile  Am J Clin Nutr.  Bakker GC, van Erk MJ, Pellis L, Wopereis S, Rubingh CM, Cnubben NH, Kooistra T, van Ommen B, Hendriks HF.
  8. ^ Heat Shock Proteins as a Remedy for Autoimmune Problems  Ann N Y Acad Sci.   Van Eden W, Wick G, Albani S, Cohen I.
  9. ^ Green Tea Reduces Obesity-Associated Inflammation  Br J Nutr.  Yun JM, Jialal I, Devaraj S.
  10. ^ Green Tea Boosts Adiponectin Production by Fat Cells  Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab  Si Young Cho, Pil Joon Park, Hyun Jung Shin, Young-Kyung Kim, Dong Wook Shin, Eui Seok Shin, Hyoung Ho Lee, Byeong Gon Lee, Joo-Hyun Baik, and Tae Ryong Lee.
  11. ^ Green Tea Inhibits the Formation of New Fat Cells  Am J Physiol Cell Physiol.  Ku HC, Chang HH, Liu HC, Hsiao CH, Lee MJ, Hu YJ, Hung PF, Liu CW, Kao YH.
  12. ^ Green Tea Inhibits the Accumulation of Fat in Fat Cells  Phytother Res.   Lee MS, Kim CT, Kim IH, Kim Y.
  13. ^ Green Tea Helps Dispose of Calories as Heat  Biosci Biotechnol Biochem  Lee MS, Kim Y.
  14. ^ Green Tea Lowers Leptin  Pak J Biol Sci  Al-Sowyan NS.
  15. ^ Green Tea Prevents Fatty Liver in ob/ob Mice  J Nutr.   Bruno RS, Dugan CE, Smyth JA, DiNatale DA, Koo SI.
  16. ^ Green Tea with Exercise Enhances Fat Burning  Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol.   Murase T, Haramizu S, Ota N, Hase T.
  17. ^ Green Tea Helps Bone Health  Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry  Chun Hay Ko, Kit Man Lau, Wing Yee Choy and Ping Chung Leung,

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