I love me some Camellia sinensis. No, that's not the name of a stripper or fancy perfume. It's a plant that people have figured out to steep in hot water and drink. You may know it as tea. While many varieties of tea are adored worldwide, green tea in particular hogs most of the public limelight.
It's a great alternative to coffee for that caffeine buzz, since each cup contains anywhere between 35-100 milligrams of caffeine, depending on how long it's been steeped. Green tea is also a great source of antioxidants—called catechins—that help support immune function, cardiovascular health, and fat loss. Above all, green tea just goes really, really well with sushi.
Clearly, I have many reasons to continue my love affair with green tea, but the often bitter-tasting tonic doesn't win over everyone's heart. The good news is that tea-shunning folk can still reap green tea's various benefits from its supplement form: green tea extract, or GTE, if you want to sound really hip.
Numerous epidemiological studies show that regular consumption of green tea has a net positive effect on overall health. Even as a supplement, green tea can be a worthwhile addition to your dietary habits, especially if your goal is fat loss. The primary difference between drinking tea and taking it in pill form is dosage. In supplement form—depending on the brand and processing—the dosage is typically much higher.
If you are interested in taking green tea extract supplements, here are a couple of things you should note:
In most cases, GTE is effective as a fat-burner via a complex cellular mechanism involving catechins and caffeine. The addition of caffeine to the potent mix of catechins revs up your production of noradrenaline, pumping you with enough feel-good confidence to think you can arm wrestle someone like Jay Cutler...and win.
The mere mention of "fat loss" might cue you to throw money at your screen, but let's consider the "catch" first. The fat-burning potential of GTE rests in the realm of 400-500 milligrams of ECGC—the most active catechin—per day. That's about 4-5 cups of strongly brewed tea.
The extra wrinkle is that green tea's fat-burning efficacy relies on the user not being heavily resistant to caffeine. In other words, if you habitually slam back, say, at least 3 cups of caffeinated drinks daily, green tea's fat-burning effects would be less significant. With these things in mind, keep realistic expectations of weight loss with GTE supplements.
How To Take It
To safely incorporate GTE supplements into your weight-loss regimen, consider drinking plenty of water; the caffeine and some ingredients in the supplements are diuretics. The pill can be taken with or without food. However, if you want to maximize GTE's effectiveness, you should consider pairing supplementation with fish oil and quercetin, either in a meal or in supplement form. Both these nutrients have been shown to exert synergistic benefits and help increase green tea's bioavailability.
Benefits Vary In Individuals
Given green tea's mainstream popularity, it's worth mentioning that each person can experience a different response to drinking green tea—much like drinking coffee . There are some folks who just don't tolerate the substances in green tea well—not out of choice, mind you. Some people may experience sudden heart palpitations, anxiety, and other general weirdness after taking green tea.
If you experience aforementioned general weirdness, you should first consult your doctor before adopting any sort of green tea-consuming habit.
As is usually the case with anything you eat or drink, the dosage makes the medicine or the poison. It's easy to forget that green tea (and hence, its supplement derivative) is a stimulant, so you may be tempted to get carried away and take more than is considered safe. Whichever green tea extract you take, be sure to check the dosage and refrain from taking more than the recommendations. Some case reports indicate that extremely high consumption of GTE could make one nauseated and experience discomfort. Always supplement wisely and listen to your body.
At the same time, you do need to drink or take the proper dosage on a regular basis for significant benefits.
Know What You Get
Green tea extract is usually an isolated form of one or more of the tea's catechins, the most potent of which is ECGC. Generally, any ingredient listed as "green tea extract" can contain anything between a significant amount of ECGC to mere tea leaves in capsule form. Most GTE supplements may have about 50 percent ECGC, but unless specified by the company, there's no standardized composition of the extract. The majority of GTE supplements may also contain appetite suppressants.
When choosing a green tea extract, check the label to see how many milligrams of catechins a single pill contains.
The Best-Selling Green Tea Extract Supplements
Based on data from the Bodybuilding.com store, these are the 10 best-selling green tea extracts in no particular order.
Bodybuilding.com Foundation Green Tea Extract
"[I] feel very energized throughout the day, and I'm starting to see many small changes to my body tone."
"I've never taken a green tea pill or supplement, but I noticed a small increase in energy after about a half hour after taking, as well as slight appetite suppression. For the price, this product can't be beat."
Arnold Schwarzenegger Iron Cuts
"I have been pleasantly surprised with this product so far! Has cut down on my sugar and carb cravings, and I have definitely lost some body fat already. I also have felt stronger while dieting with this. Recommended."
"I am very, very happy with this product. I have lost at least 2 percent body fat with one bottle. I keep my diet as clean as possible but don't really do much cardio."
NOW Green Tea Extract
"As I'm trying to lose some body fat, it's a great supplement to [achieve] my goals faster. My cardio workouts are more productive; sweat a lot more also."
"Great supplement for losing fat."
PharmaFreak Ripped Freak
"The strongest fat burner on the market that I've tried in all my years competing. Tried it when it first came out and it's been my go-to ever since!"
"Ripped Freak works amazingly for me. I have used it during two contest preps with great results each time. It gives me great energy and I find I do not get any jitters or shakiness. I highly recommend giving it a try."
"I like to keep a bottle in the cupboard for special occasions when I need to drop some water. Works within a day. I always lose at least 3 pounds. Doesn't upset my stomach or digestion at all."
"I have personally used the product for show and photo prep...It works great!"
Grenade Thermo Detonator
"This stuff works and is the best fat burner I've ever taken. When it's time to take one again, this is what I will buy without question. This and a clean diet will get you results for sure."
"Nothing overwhelming. Great thermogenic feeling, and of course, gave me the results I was looking for."
MET-Rx Extra Strength Green Tea Extract
"Good solid energy, no peak or crash just consistent energy to keep me going."
"High dose, trusted brand, and affordable price (if you're only taking 1 serving a day, it lasts 2 months)."
Infinite Labs Final Cutz
"A long-lasting energy boost and sharpens your focus to keep you at your peak fast burn during your workout."
"First time trying Final Cutz and I have to say: I am impressed. It has given me a nice feeling of alertness, focus, and at the same time, keeps the hunger pangs away!"
Dymatize Dyma-Burn Xtreme
"Dyma-Burn definitely gives me an energy spike so it functions quite well as a pre-workout about half hour before hitting the weights."
"Great fat burner. I do try to have some months when I do not use these, so my body doesn't become used to them. Keep the body guessing! Great product!"
PrimaForce Lean Green
"Great product. It's for sure a good surge of energy in the morning when I wake up."
"Ultimate caffeine source with polyphenols! I love this product in conjunction with a serving of a fat burner for the added metabolic increase. Easy to swallow and very cost effective."
- "Green Tea Catechins." Examine.com.