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.
- "Green Tea Catechins." Examine.com.