When it comes to losing fat, no magic pill or powder can replace consistent work in the gym and a clean diet. Your efforts will always trump anything a supplement can do. That said, there are a handful of ingredients that may help boost your metabolism and enhance your weight-loss efforts.
Two of those ingredients—green tea and green coffee—may already be part of your daily morning ritual, but they're also sold in supplement form as green tea and green coffee extract. If fat loss is your goal, is one extract better than the other? It's time to put these two green titans in a head-to-head battle for fat-loss supremacy!
Make Time For Tea
Green tea, which comes from the Camellia sinensis plant, has been recommended as a healthful drink for centuries with potential health benefits ranging from improved antioxidant status to cardiovascular support. Although multiple parts of the plant can be used, it's the extract from the leaves that seems to offer the most health benefits, especially when it comes to weight loss.
The two components primarily responsible for green tea extract's (GTE) health benefits are catechins, which provide the majority of antioxidants benefits, and caffeine, which enhances thermogenesis and fat metabolism.
When compared to a placebo and caffeine alone, GTE has been shown to significantly increase 24-hour energy expenditure.[1,2] Over time, increasing the number of calories you burn both at rest and during exercise could lead to favorable changes in your body composition. Furthermore, there are multiple studies showing GTE's ability to increase rates of fat oxidation (or fat burning) over a 24-hour period.
Long-term consumption of green tea extract has been shown to support modest weight loss, around 2-3 pounds, over a 12-week period.3 While GTE clearly won't do all the work for you, research suggests that, when combined with exercise, it can support greater weight loss when compared to exercise alone.
Green Is The New Black
Green coffee extract (GCE), as the name implies, is extracted from unroasted green coffee beans. Its main active ingredients are compounds known as chlorogenic acids, which are thought to be responsible for its weight-loss effects.
While it's not entirely clear how it works, chlorogenic acid may be able to promote fat loss by increasing the activity of PPAR-alpha—a gene involved in fatty-acid transport and oxidation—and reducing the creation of new fat cells through its antioxidant effects.[5,6]
To date, there has been only one study to demonstrate a positive effect of GCE on weight loss in humans. A 2007 study published in the Journal of International Medical Research found that when GCE was added to coffee, participants lost (on average) almost 12 pounds over a 12-week period, when combined with diet and exercise. This compared to only 3 pounds lost in the coffee-only group.
While results from this study are promising, larger, better-controlled studies are needed to truly determine the effectiveness of GCE as a weight-loss tool.
Lean, Mean, Green
Green tea extract is the current winner in the battle of the bulge! For one, GTE has a higher caffeine component, and when it comes to ingredients that can have a significant impact on supporting your metabolism and help you burn more fat, caffeine is king. Second, the research on GTE far exceeds that of GC, making it a little more convincing that including GTE as part of your diet may potentially be beneficial to fat loss.
You may find some supplements that use a combination blend of green tea with green coffee extracts, but there is currently no research suggesting this is a more effective combination than either in isolation.
What To Watch Out For
The weight-loss benefits associated with green coffee and green tea extracts are greatly reduced when you mix the extracts with milk and sugar.[8-9] Additionally, research suggests that protein consumption can have an inhibitory effect on their absorption. Therefore, benefits of GTE and GCE may be maximized when consumed with water 2-3 hours before or after a meal.
Both of these substances typically contain caffeine and therefore may cause potential side effects associated with caffeine consumption, such as increased heart rate and digestive upset, but as long as you don't guzzle the stuff, you should be in pretty good shape. Start with a low dose, see how your body handles it, and then make adjustments from there.
A Practical Approach For Use
GTE and GCE are most effective when caffeine resistance is minimized. If you're already a coffee addict, the benefits of green tea extract and GCE supplements will likely be less effective.
While you may think you can get your daily dose of GTE just by sipping on some green tea, think again. An effective dose (about 600 milligrams) would require you to drink 8-10 cups of tea![1,4] Supplements can definitely make things a little easier on you; just make sure you're getting 30-60 percent EGCG—the active ingredient in green tea responsible for its fat-burning effects—in each serving.
Green coffee supplements are generally sold containing 40-50 percent chlorogenic acid by weight. In order to get the most effective dose of 120-300 milligrams of chlorogenic acid, you'll want to look for a supplement containing 300-750 milligrams of green coffee extract.
- Cabrera, C., Artacho, R., & Giménez, R. (2006). Beneficial effects of green tea—a review. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 25(2), 79-99.
- Dulloo, A. G., Duret, C., Rohrer, D., Girardier, L., Mensi, N., Fathi, M., ... & Vandermander, J. (1999). Efficacy of a green tea extract rich in catechin polyphenols and caffeine in increasing 24-h energy expenditure and fat oxidation in humans. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 70(6), 1040-1045.
- Wang, H., Wen, Y., Du, Y., Yan, X., Guo, H., Rycroft, J. A., ... & Mela, D. J. (2010). Effects of catechin enriched green tea on body composition. Obesity, 18(4), 773-779.
- Maki, K. C., Reeves, M. S., Farmer, M., Yasunaga, K., Matsuo, N., Katsuragi, Y., ... & Blumberg, J. B. (2009). Green tea catechin consumption enhances exercise-induced abdominal fat loss in overweight and obese adults. The Journal of Nutrition, 139(2), 264-270.
- Hsu, C. L., Huang, S. L., & Yen, G. C. (2006). Inhibitory effect of phenolic acids on the relation to their antioxidant activity. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 54(12), 4191-4197.
- Cho, A. S., Jeon, S. M., Kim, M. J., Yeo, J., Seo, K. I., Choi, M. S., & Lee, M. K. (2010). Chlorogenic acid exhibits anti-obesity property and improves lipid metabolism in high-fat diet-induced-obese mice. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 48(3), 937-943.
- Thom, E. (2007). The effect of chlorogenic acid enriched coffee on glucose absorption in healthy volunteers and its effect on body mass when used long-term in overweight and obese people. Journal of International Medical Research, 35(6), 900-908.
- Onakpoya, I., Terry, R., & Ernst, E. (2010). The use of green coffee extract as a weight loss supplement: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised clinical trials. Gastroenterology Research and Practice, 2011.
- Anderson, R. A., & Polansky, M. M. (2002). Tea enhances insulin activity. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 50(24), 7182-7186.
- Bohn, T. (2014). Dietary factors affecting polyphenol bioavailability. Nutrition Reviews, 72(7), 429-452.