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Green Tea to Promote Weight Loss? Print E-mail
Dr John Briffa   
Wednesday, 16 September 2009
Green Tea to Promote Weight Loss?Just yesterday I was being consulted by an individual keen to lose weight who was neither sedentary nor ate a rubbish diet. In fact, her diet was what I would call ‘restrained’. It’s easy to be cynical about individuals like this, and just assume that they are eating more than they think or simply not fessing up to the reality of their dietary intake. While I am sure this sort of thing happens, my first instinct is to take an individual at face value, and explore why that individual might be experiencing a body weight that appears to be disproportionate to their food intake and activity habits.

One explanation for this, of course, is that an individual’s metabolism may be on the sluggish side. Even a slightly muted metabolism could, in time, lead to a considerable gain in weight. On the up side, boosting metabolism may make it easier for individuals to lose and maintain a healthy weight.

With this in mind, my attention was caught be a recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition [1]. It involved the feeding of overweight men with a compound known as epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). This substance, a component of tea and green tea, has been said to have the ability to stimulate weight loss by boosting the body’s metabolism.

In the study in question, overweight men were treated with 300 mg of EGCG or placebo for just two days. Compared to placebo, the EGCG did not appear to increase the metabolic rate at rest. However, the study did find evidence that the EGCG stimulated the metabolism of fat after a meal. This effect might, of course, give EGCG and the foodstuffs that contain it some ability to reduce fatty accumulation in the body.

As it happens, there is some evidence to support this too. In one study, overweight men were asked to drink catechin-rich (EGCG is part of a group of compounds referred to as ‘catechins’) tea or low-catechin tea for 12 weeks [2]. The catechin-rich tea led to significant reductions in body weight, waist size and fat mass. The total catechin amount supplied by the ‘active’ tea was 690 mg a day – which equates to about 5-6 cups of green tea [3].

The other thing about catechins is that they appear to have ‘antioxidant’ and other properties that would be expected to help ward of chronic disease including cancer (see below).

The evidence suggests that regular consumption of green tea is likely to have benefits for health, and might even aid weight loss in individuals whose metabolisms could do with a bit of a ‘pick-me-up’,

1. Boschmann M, et al. The Effects of Epigallocatechin-3-Gallate on Thermogenesis and Fat Oxidation in Obese Men: A Pilot Study. Journal of the American College of Nutrition 2007;26(4):389S-395S.
2. Nagao T, et al. Ingestion of a tea rich in catechins leads to a reduction in body fat and malondialdehyde-modified LDL in men. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2005;81(1):122-129/
3. Khokhar S, et al. Total phenol, catechin, and caffeine contents of teas commonly consumed in the United Kingdom. J Agric Food Chem. 2002;50(3):565-70.

Dr John Briffa qualified as a doctor from University College London Medical School in 1990. A prize-winning medical student, he also completed an intercalated BSc degree in Biomedical Sciences during his medical studies.

Since graduating, Dr Briffa has developed a special interest in nutritional and naturally-oriented medicine. He works in private practice in London. Visit his website for more information and articles.

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