One of the primary ways green tea helps control weight is by preventing the degradation of norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in helping the body shed pounds. Here’s how:
The body naturally produces a chemical called catechol-O-methyltransferase, or COMT, which regulates the production and activity of norepinephrine. Green tea contains catechins, chemical substances that inhibit COMT to prevent it from breaking down norepinephrine. As a result, more of the neurotransmitter is available to aid the body in losing weight.
Tea contains several catechins, but the one that’s found in the greatest concentration is epigallocatechin-3-gallate or EGCG, which is often mentioned in ads promoting green tea supplements.
The great thing about these catechins is that they can be easily included in supplements, which means you don’t need to drink a boatload of tea in order to experience all the weight-loss benefits that tea offers. And the even greater thing is that there have been lots of scientific studies to prove it.
What the studies are saying
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has published several studies about green tea extract and its benefits in weight loss. In one study of healthy men, researchers looked at both fat oxidation — that is, how well the body burns fat — and the ability of the body to control and tolerate glucose with and without green tea supplementation. What they found was that the men who were given the green tea supplements had better glucose tolerance and significantly greater fat-burning activity; in fact, they found that the fat-burning rate in men who took the green tea supplements was a whopping 17 percent greater than it was in men who did not take the supplements.
In another study published in the journal, researchers decided to determine if the catechins in green tea really promote weight loss or if the extra fat-burning activity demonstrated by tea could actually be attributed to the beverage’s caffeine. They divided their subjects into three groups, giving green tea supplements to one group, caffeine supplements to another group and a placebo to the third group. Then they looked at how much energy the body expended during a 24-hour period. What they found was that the group which received the green tea supplements had a significant increase in energy expenditure compared to the other groups, meaning the fat-burning properties of green tea have nothing to do with the caffeine contained in the beverage form. In fact, no increase in fat-burning energy expenditure was noted in the group receiving just caffeine. Their conclusion: Green tea promotes fat oxidation “beyond that explained by its caffeine content per se.” In plain English, it’s not green tea’s caffeine content that promotes weight loss.
Not only does green tea help increase the amount of fat the body burns, but it also seems to prevent fat cells from collecting additional fat. In a study that focused on the effects of green tea’s ECGC content, the compound found in green tea supplements, researchers found that ECGC “effectively depleted fat accumulation” in fat cells, or adipocytes.
And in a study from Penn State University, mice that were fed ECGC along with a high-fat diet gained weight much more slowly than mice that were fed the same exact diet but without the addition of ECGC, indicating that consumption of ECGC can aid in weight loss independently of other effects or activity.
Maximizing the benefits
So what does all this mean? In a nutshell, all of these studies (and many others) have clearly shown that taking green tea supplements with ECGC can have a significant effect on weight management and weight loss. Of course, when those supplements are combined with other healthy lifestyle habits, shedding pounds can become even easier. To get the greatest weight-loss benefits, add in a healthy diet and exercise regularly — simply taking regular walks will work wonders.
The best time to start any weight management program, including introducing green tea supplements for weight management, is now. Take that first step toward healthier living and see how quickly you start to feel more energized and more in control of your own life and health.