Sunday, June 29, 2008

Nutrition Spotlight: Green Tea

When coaching a client, the first question I always get is what supplements should they be taking. That's rarely a health question, because it's not really about a good quality multi-vitamin/mineral product for general health (that yes, everyone should be taking). It's really a question about "what magic bullet can I take for weight loss?" Ok - there is none. Let's get that straight from the very beginning. Well, yes, there are amino acids, minerals & herbs that do have metabolic effects - and they can help, but only when used in conjunction with a healthy eating plan and exercise regimen. No magic pill, drink, or patch will work by itself.

That said, there are benefits to many supplements, and some that you might want to consider taking. We have over-farmed our soil and can't get the nutrition we need from just eating right - and who really does eat right anyway. We need a good quality supplement in general. However, there is a lot being said about green tea these days, and the researchers are only beginning to scratch the surface of its benefits.

Green tea has been shown to help lower cholesterol, boost immunity, fight certain cancers, slow down the wrinkle process, and help with weight loss. Initial research has been done using the polyphenol (catechin) extracts, but there may be more to it than just that alone.

Green tea is a natural antioxidant, helping fight free radical damage in the body (immunity boosting, anti-aging properties, wrinkles and such) and has also been shown to regulate glucose and trigger an increase in metabolic rate. Regulating glucose levels can help decrease appetite, which of course, will contribute to weight loss. However, it can also inhibit fat conversion (storing fat) by keeping the body from experiencing a sudden rise of insulin after meals.

How much? According to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, "3 - 5 cups per day was shown to increase an average of 4% in energy expenditure over a 24-hour period. However, the research showed that the increased energy only took place during the daytime; therefore, that 4% equated to a 35-43% increase in daytime thermogenesis". What that means is that it will not help you burn calories in your sleep - it works during waking hours. So, can you burn a third or more calories while you're awake just by drinking green tea? Seems so. In real numbers, that works out to about 70 calories per day - so don't think it will burn off that double-cheeseburger you've had your eyes on. In fact, if you add sugar or honey to your tea, you'll probably end up with the antioxidant benefits alone, which is good - but probably not what you're looking for. That said, over the course of a week, that's 490 calories, which is one extra workout at the gym every week - not bad.
Oh, and just in case you were curious, the benefits were the same with decaffeinated tea as they were with the fully leaded variety.

Drinking that much unsweetened green tea may be difficult for some, so a good quality supplement may be just the ticket. However, since they've just begun to discover the benefits of green tea, I would suggest both drinking a couple of cups a day and taking a supplement. Now, I'm not talking about those green tea weight loss supplements that are on every store shelf. Those products contain various herbs and such that purport to help burn fat - doubtful. What I am talking about is a good quality green tea supplement, preferably decaffeinated, that has a high concentration of catechins to help supplement your already healthy lifestyle. TeGreen by Pharmanex is my favorite - it has the catechins of 7 cups of green tea, fully decaffeinated (I like my caffeine from coffee, thank you very much), and that's all it contains - only green tea extract, no random herbs or empty promises. So, one tablet a day and then, if you like, drink a couple of cups for the as-yet-undiscovered-benefits of green tea.

For more information, go to: Partnership for Change.

1 comment:

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