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Green Tea Weight Loss - The No-Nonsense Truth
We get asked about this subject probably more than any other question, so here are some no nonsense facts regarding green tea and weight loss.
Consider the following - One pound of fat (0.45 kilograms) is equivalent to approximately 3500 calories. Whether using green tea for weight loss or any other method, in order to lose one pound of fat over the period of a week, a person must maintain a calorie deficit of 3500 below their normal "set point", that "set point" being the amount of calories consumed in one's diet where a person neither loses nor gains fat. This calorie deficit can come through the modification of diet, through exercise, or a through a combination of both. In the case of a pound per week weight loss, that works out to a needed calorie deficit of 500 calories per day.
Green Tea Weight Loss Research...
Research by Japanese and other researchers(1) suggest that if the average person were to drink five cups of green tea a day, they would burn an extra 70 to 80 extra calories through an effect known as thermogenesis - the process of heat production in organisms. While much of the thermogenesis effect in green tea is derived from caffeine, studies also suggest(2) that thermogenesis in green tea occurs to some degree beyond its caffeine content from epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG.)
Regardless, 70-80 calories per day does not quite come close to the 500 calorie deficit needed per day to lose a pound a week, and for sure it's nowhere close to the calorie deficit needed to lose "inches per week" from one's waistline as some green tea web sites would have consumers believe. According to the research, if a person were to change nothing outside of adding five cups of green tea to their diet per day, then over the course of 43 days one could expect to lose 1 pound. Over the period of one year, one could expect a loss of about 8 pounds. Yes, there is some correlation between green tea and weight loss, unfortunately it's not on the level many would have you believe.
Clearly, drinking green tea alone is not going to be satisfactory for significant weight loss. Still, green tea can still be quite useful as a weight loss aid. The extra 80 calories per day can be just what a person needs to tip the scale from a calorie surplus to a calorie deficit, especially when following a balanced nutrition and exercise regime. There are cases where the combination of replacing soda or other high caloric beverages with green tea would have an especially noticeable effect.
Recent Update (2015): Green Tea Probably Blocks Starch / Carbohydrate Absorption
Recent research (3) strongly shows that green tea may inhibit starch digestion and absorption to a rather significant degree and thus may be an additional factor in weight loss. The study comprised of 28 healthy volunteers, aged 19 to 28 years who ate cornflakes and took a green tea extract versus those with a placebo. The researchers concluded that a single dose of green tea extract taken with a test meal decreases starch digestion and absorption.
Which Green Tea is Best for Weight Loss?
The next most often asked question we get regarding this subject is "which" of our green teas are the best for losing weight. We don't think any one is particularly better than another per se, they are all very similar when it comes to health properties. We think the best method to supplement weight loss would be to choose a green tea you really enjoy and drink a lot of it. Don't expect miracles, but it can help! There are also many other health benefits that come with drinking green tea so really, it's a win-win situation.
(1) Dulloo AG, Efficacy of a green tea extract rich in catechin polyphenols and caffeine in increasing 24-h energy expenditure and fat oxidation in humans, Am J Clin Nutr 70: 1040-1050, 1999
(2) The Effects of Epigallocatechin-3-Gallate on Thermogenesis and Fat Oxidation in Obese Men: A Pilot Study Michael Boschmann, MD and Frank Thielecke, PhD. Universitary Medicine Berlin, Charité Campus Buch, Franz Volhard Center for Clinical Research, and HELIOS Clinic Berlin. J Am Coll Nutr. 26 (4); 389-3995. 2007
(3) Lochocka, K. et al. Green tea extract decreases starch digestion and absorption from a test meal in humans: a randomized, placebo-controlled crossover study. Sci. Rep. 5, 12015; doi: 10.1038/srep12015 (2015).