Green tea has several health benefits. This plant-based product is rich in antioxidants, with anti-cancer and anti-aging properties. For a long time, green tea has also been known for aiding in weight loss. But does it actually lead to weight loss? Here’s what experts have to say.
Jyoti Chabria, senior nutritionist and dietitian, Nutriline – The Wellness Centre, Hyderabad, says, “Green tea has flavonoids called catechin and polyphenols like tannins. They burn fat and help in weight loss and may also be beneficial in reducing belly fat. Many dietitians, including me, recommend green tea as a part of the weight loss diet. Having two to three cups of green tea a day has shown weight loss benefits in my clients.”
Polyphenols are naturally occurring antioxidants. So, it can be good for people with parkinsonism (motor syndrome manifesting as rigidity, tremors, and slow movement) and diabetes. This is because it reduces oxidative stress and thus reduces inflammation of brain cells. However, the source of green tea and its way of preparation make a lot of difference, says Dr Abhishek Katakwar, surgeon for obesity and metabolic syndrome, AIG Hospitals, Hyderabad. He adds, “It has benefits, provided it is authentic, and you know where the product is coming from. In the eastern countries, people pluck their own green teas and consume them in small cups (about 20-30 ml) after they prepare it a certain way in teapots.”
Rittik Chatterjee, tea consultant and educator, Kolkata, says green tea comes from Camellia sinencis like other teas, but its making process is different. Green tea has no fermentation or oxidation process. He explains after the leaves are plucked, they go through withering, where the moisture content is reduced to desired levels. They are then steamed or pan-fried, rolled (leaves are twisted to bring the juices to the surface), dried, and then graded or sorted by size, quality, and type. While these are the basic steps followed, the exact process depends on gardens and the countries where they grow.
How much weight can you lose on the green tea diet?
Chatterjee says green tea contains Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) compounds and caffeine, which boost metabolism and break down fat cells. “Green tea is a weight reducer but it’s not magic. You should drink it regularly while exercising and consuming balanced food,” he adds.
Chabria says she has seen people lose about 1–1.2 kg in 10–12 days after drinking green tea when combined with diet and exercise. “Just green tea will probably not help you to lose weight.,” she adds.
Best time to drink green tea for weight loss
A study published in Nutrition Journal in 2010 found that green tea has no effect on glucose or insulin levels in the body. However, the participants reported increased satiety or fullness after consuming green tea. Dr Katakwar shares that it was a randomized control trial; hence, there are very less chances of bias in the study. “So, if you are hungry around 3 or 4pm after lunch, you can have green tea rather than snacks. That will improve satiety,” he says.
Experts say there is no single best time to consume green tea. In fact, one can even have them in the middle of meals as fillers. Chabria says instead of tea or coffee, one can consume green or herbal tea as it has less caffeine compared to other beverages. She adds, “To make tea, using tea leaves would be the best option. But nowadays, as everyone can’t follow the process of preparing tea from the leaves all the time, they can use tea bags.”
Side effects of green tea
Experts say there’s no problem with having green tea every day. At the same time, it’s best to avoid having it on an empty stomach as it may cause gastric issues in some.
An article published in American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy reported a case of a 38-year-old woman who developed thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (a disorder where blood clots form in blood vessels throughout the body) after consuming a weight-loss product containing green tea for two months. Though such drastic and unusual side effects are extremely rare, experts advise consuming green tea in moderation.
Dr Katakwar says, “Reports highlight that a drop in platelet count was observed in some people because of an immune reaction. However, we still don’t know whether it is because of green tea. Anything in excess can have acute effects on the liver and the kidneys. We have observed similar effects from the use of weight loss powders too.”
He adds that if somebody has liver issues or liver failure to the extent that the organ is unable to metabolize nutrients, they should avoid green tea. Also, as it contains some caffeine, experts advise against consuming it later in the evening as it can cause sleeplessness.
- Green tea can help in weight loss as it contains a lot of antioxidants. But it should be accompanied by regular exercise and a proper diet.
- It improves satiety, helping one to avoid overeating.
- The best time to consume green tea is between meals and before 4pm.
- Consuming the beverage in moderation — about three to four cups a day — can be beneficial.
- Excess green tea consumption may cause anxiety, sleeplessness, and very rarely, thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, a blood disorder.