Green Tea Extract For Weight Loss: Does It Work?

by Dr. Ahmed Zayed
Published on January 9, 2019 and last updated for accuracy on September 3, 2021

The road to a successful weight loss is long but rewarding. Every pound you lose can only serve as motivation to keep going and lose even more. A lot of natural products and ingredients can support weight loss endeavors, and green tea is one of them. In fact, green tea is quite a popular ingredient in weight loss products and chances are you’ve already used or come across some item which had this extract on the label. Green tea extract for weight loss is a common recommendation, but does it really work?

You’re probably curious about the actual efficacy of green tea extract, just like I was. So, here’s what you need to know about using green tea extract as a way to reduce your body weight.

Person Holding Orange Liquid in White Ceramic Mug

Green Tea Extract For Weight Loss Overview

Green tea extract is considered the healthiest beverage on the planet, next to the water of course. It’s a type of tea made from leaves of Camellia sinensis, an evergreen shrub or small tree native to East Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and Southeast Asia.

Different varieties of shrub or tree have been identified, and each of them is used for a different tea.

Besides green tea, the Camellia sinensis varieties also give us black tea, white tea, yellow tea, and oolong. Green tea is made from unoxidized leaves and belongs to the group of less processed types of tea.

Active Compounds In Green Tea Leaves

As a result, it has a high concentration of antioxidants which are responsible for most health benefits of this tea. The primary active compounds of green tea are catechins such as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG).

Free stock photo of asia, beverage, blur

For centuries traditional Chinese medicine and medical practices of other cultures relied on green tea for the treatment of many health conditions. Green tea is popular today too, thanks to its versatility. Is weight loss really one of its benefits? Read on to find out. These compounds are believed to help with blood sugar levels, brain health, and even protect the body against liver damage. Combined with a healthy diet, the major health benefit is may be the improved fat oxidation rates provided by a dietary supplement that contains the active compounds in the tea.

Can green tea catechins and polyphenols really aid weight loss?

Green tea extract has become a popular weight loss aid. Just take a look at dietary supplements and other products marketed for weight loss, and you’ll see green tea extract is on the ingredient list. Popularity is one thing, but true potential is something else.

Is green tea just a trend or it really works? It’s perfectly natural to ask this question, and you don’t want to take something for weight loss just because it’s a popular ingredient.

Well, it turns out green tea really works. Adding green tea extract to food is also another option for people who do not like the taste of the tea.

International Journal of Obesity Study

The September 2009 issue of the International Journal of Obesity published a review that found that green tea is effective for weight loss and weight maintenance. The main objective of the review was to elucidate whether green tea indeed has a function in weight regulation.

Scientists from the Netherlands identified 49 studies published in English on this topic, but 11 works matched the requirements for the final selection. The focus was to find the health benefits of drinking green tea.

Results of the review showed that catechins significantly decreased weight and successfully maintained weight after a period of weight loss.

Interestingly, the study found that green tea catechins exhibited a seemingly smaller effect on Caucasians compared to Asians, but the difference wasn’t significant (1). By using a green tea extract, in particular, you gain access to a higher concentration of these catechins. This may aid weight loss more efficiently.

Canadian Pharmacists Journal Study

The Canadian Pharmacists Journal published an interesting paper that also investigated the efficacy of green tea for weight loss. The paper reviewed studies on this subject conducted in Japan and other countries.

Findings revealed that participants in the green tea group lost on average 0.2 to 3.5kg more than their counterparts in the control group (2).

Although evidence on this subject is promising, it’s important to carry out further research.

Most studies use extracts that contain higher levels of active ingredients than tea bags. This makes it hard to determine how brewed green tea can help, and the specific health benefits offered.

How Does Taking Green Tea Extract Help?

We’ve already established that green tea promotes weight reduction and weight maintenance, the question is – how?

This wonderful tea uses multiple mechanisms to help you slim down and achieve your body goal in an entirely natural way.

Below, you can see how green tea works to help you lose weight.

Scales and measuring tape on white floor

Faster metabolic rate

To lose weight successfully your body needs to burn more calories than you consume through diet. That’s where your metabolism steps in! A faster metabolic rate is an important aspect of a successful weight reduction, but you need to achieve it in a healthy manner. Green tea helps with that.

In most studies on this topic, green tea increases metabolic rate by 3% to 4%, but in some research papers, the effect is as high as 8% (3, 4, 5).

As you can already presume the primary “culprits” for these effects are catechins.

While most papers focused on short-term effects, multiple studies confirmed long-term benefits as well. For instance, one study found that among 60 participants those who took green tea extract lost additional 7.3 pounds (3.3kg) and burned 183 more calories a day after three months compared to their counterparts who didn’t take green tea (6). Taking green tea extract supplements may be even more beneficial than consuming green tea in liquid form.

Green tea mobilizes fat from fat cells, aids fat burning

Fat, especially in the abdominal area, is stubborn and difficult to get rid of. Overweight and obese bodies have accumulated fat mass that puts a person’s health in danger.

Fat loss is an important aspect of slimming down, but it can be difficult to find an ideal aid to sort this problem. It looks like green tea can be just the thing you need.

You see, green tea contains substances or compounds that promote fat loss. Caffeine is one of those substances.

Even though a cup of green tea contains 24mg to 40mg of caffeine compared to 100mg to 200mg in a cup of coffee, the amount is still sufficient for a moderate fat-burning effect.

Caffeine is a stimulant that promotes fat reduction and improves athletic performance (7).

In order to burn fat, the body needs to break it down in fat cells first and push it into the bloodstream — active compounds in green tea aid this process by enhancing the effects of fat-burning hormones like noradrenaline or norepinephrine.

For example, EGCG inhibits an enzyme that breaks down norepinephrine (8).

A study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that men who took green tea extract burned 17% more fat than subjects who didn’t take it. Scientists concluded green tea enhances the fat-burning impact of exercise (9). Basically, it helps you burn more calories during a workout than you would lose without green tea.

Evidence also confirms that green tea catechins improve fat reduction both during workout and rest (10). This is particularly important if we bear in mind that rest is equally important as exercise.

Green tea could make you eat fewer calories

A major problem we face when trying to lose or control weight is excessive calorie intake. We eat way too much because we feel hungry.

In fact, most weight loss products work by reducing the number of calories you consume.

Green tea could exhibit a similar effect. Some studies found that EGCG supplements or green tea extracts could decrease the amount of fat absorbed from foods, thus helping you eat less (11).

These effects haven’t been confirmed in human studies, though.

Appetite control remains a significant problem throughout the world.

Failure to control your appetite leads to an increase in body fat. To promote weight loss, reducing your appetite is important. These effects of green tea also help with cravings, which is something that many people are unable to control. By reducing your intake of unhealthy snacks, you may find improvements in insulin sensitivity within your body.

This effect also improves blood sugar control. When you have better blood sugar control, you already experience fewer risk factors associated with poor liver function and cardiovascular health.

Stress management

Woman in Red T-shirt Looking at Her Laptop

Stress is a natural response of our body to sudden changes and unfamiliar events. Although we’d like to avoid stress entirely, that’s not really possible. The best we can do is to reduce exposure to stress triggers and find a unique way to manage or cope with stress.

Why are we talking about stress now? Well, the answer is because stress plays a role in your body weight. More precisely, when left unresolved stress can lead to weight gain. Stress can also lead to high blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, your chances of heart disease increase. This can limit your abilities, yielding poor exercise performance.

Studies Confirm Link Between Weight Gain And Stress

Research from Cell Metabolism found a reason why stress promotes weight gain.

The cause is a relationship between fat cells and the timing of stress hormones (12). Besides weight gain, unresolved stress depletes energy levels, decreases productivity, and promotes fatigue.

When tired you can’t (and don’t want to) exercise which is why it’s difficult to slim down.

In fact, stress management is important for weight loss. A study from the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics confirmed that subjects from the intervention group experienced a greater weight reduction due to a stress management program (13).

Stress management is important for overall health including your weight loss, and green tea can help you achieve it.

One study found that intake of green tea suppresses excessive stress response (14). July 2017 issue of the journal Nutrients confirmed that green tea intake was associated with lower stress and improved sleep quality (15).

Improved quality of sleep is a significant health effect of green tea. We’ve become a chronically sleep-deprived society, but what most of us fail to acknowledge is that sleep deprivation is closely related to stress. Plus, lack of sleep can also promote weight gain.

Photo of Ceremonial Tea Set on Wooden Surface

Other Benefits Of Green Tea Extract

When looking at green tea extract, many people turn their focus to the ability of the catechins to reduce their body weight. The effects of green tea include the ability to improve energy expenditure during exercise.

In addition to the ability to increase fat oxidation, green tea polyphenols also help with satiety.

While this is a major benefit associated with green tea catechins, there are other benefits too. Taking green tea extract can result in further health advantages, improving your cardiovascular wellbeing, while also helping with insulin sensitivity. By helping with these factors, you experience a reduced risk of insulin resistance.

The presence of insulin resistance is linked to a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Antioxidant Properties

Green tea extract also protects your body against molecules called free radicals. These molecules can cause damage to various parts of your body. The free radicals cause oxidative stress. In turn, this process damages cells. This can affect your:

  • Improve skin health
  • Heart health
  • Brain health

Green Leafed Plant Beside Clear Glass Mg

These benefits can be attributed to the antioxidants called catechins. They help to regulate blood sugar levels, especially in a concentrated form when taking a green tea extract supplement.

Protective Properties Of Green Tea Extract

Free stock photo of ambrosia, anti anxiety medication, aroma

With this in mind, drinking green tea could potentially help to protect brain cells. This is important to ensure you experience a healthy mind and brain function as you age. The antioxidant capacity also contributes to improved heart health.

By protecting your heart, you have a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

The green tea catechins may also be useful in conditions like nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and even problems like prostate cancer.

While the green tea extract won’t cure these conditions, it may help to reduce further damage and progression. This is due to the green tea polyphenols and catechins.

Another potential benefit of green tea consumption includes the ability to right against bad breath. The antioxidant capacity of green tea extract helps to fight against the microorganisms that cause bad breath.

Potential side effects

Green tea is generally safe for consumption, but it’s recommended to avoid drinking high amounts of it. Some adverse reactions associated with the intake of green tea include:

  • Headache
  • Stomach problems
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Anemia and iron deficiency
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Nervousness
  • Diarrhea
  • Heartburn
  • Tremor
  • Confusion
  • Convulsions
  • Irritability

Green Tea Extract Drug Interactions

Person Holding Medicines

While safe and healthy, green tea extract may not be suitable for everyone, at least not without doctor’s permission. It could interact with some drugs such as:

  • Taking amphetamines and ephedrine – green tea extract has a strong interaction with these drugs.
  • Antibiotics, adenosine, birth control pills – green tea extract has a moderate interaction with these drugs (16).

You should also be cautious if you already have some stomach problems, iron deficiency, anemia, anxiety disorders, glaucoma, liver disease, and if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.

Persons with these problems can still drink green tea but in lower amounts. It’s useful to ask your doctor whether it’s safe.

Caffeine Sensitivity

 Ceramic Mug With Coffee

Another factor that we should consider when looking at the side effects of green tea is the caffeine content. Brewed green tea is made from camellia Sinensis leaves.

These leaves are also used in the preparation of black and oolong tea. This means green tea leaves do contain caffeine.

With this in mind, while green tea catechins and other compounds can help with reducing body fat, make sure you are not sensitive to caffeine.

People with caffeine sensitivity tend to experience irritation and “jitters” when they expose themselves to this stimulant.

While this is something important to consider, do take note that there are green tea extract options that do not contain caffeine. These are usually promoted as green tea extract supplements.

These tea extract supplements usually contain a concentration of the active chemicals in the leaves. The caffeine found in the green tea extract is removed during the processing of the supplement.

Conclusion

Green tea, the healthiest beverage in the world, has a wide range of health benefits that improve our quality of life. Green tea extract has become a popular weight reduction ingredient, but it’s natural to wonder whether it really works or not.

When you don’t like green tea, you still have options. Some supplements use green tea extract. These supplements usually contain a concentrated amount of green tea catechins, which can aid in your weight loss journey.

This makes taking green tea extract much easier. Green tea supplements usually come in the form of a capsule. You simply take one or two of these green tea extract capsules every day to experience the benefits. Some of the tea plant supplements come with more than just a concentrated form of chemicals. These may include important fatty acids, for example. The goal is to help you reach a healthier body mass index, while also improving your body composition.

Multiple studies have confirmed that green tea extract works indeed. This wonderful tea promotes weight loss and weight management through multiple mechanisms. Some mechanisms of action include fat loss, stress management, faster metabolic rate. It’s useful to include green tea extract in your lifestyle.

If buying a supplement containing this ingredient make sure you read labels first and get the high-quality product. Remember, successful weight loss also requires lifestyle management that involves a well-balanced diet and regular workouts. Plus, green tea extract enhances the fat-burning effects of exercise.

References

(1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19597519
(2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4025876/
(3) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10584049
(4) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16176615
(5) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17299107
(6) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18006026
(7) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14684395
(8) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12695345
(9) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18326618
(10) http://jhs.pharm.or.jp/data/51(2)/51_233.pdf
(11) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15738931
(12) https://www.cell.com/cell-metabolism/fulltext/S1550-4131(18)30190-6
(13) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23627835
(14) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28566632
(15) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5537891/
(16) https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-960/green-tea

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