I am occasionally asked what fat-burners I recommend for my clients. And, while I appreciate what some thermogenic herbs can do to increase the rate at which individuals lose inches, the reality is that very few people will need them once their obstacles have been removed and a significant minority will respond badly to the increased stress they place on the body. As such, I normally save the use of such products for special occasions that truly call for it. Apart from green tea.
Green tea stands out amongst thermogenic herbs because it does not stimulate the body. Even gentle products like sida cordifolia can cause sleeplessness and increases in heart rate. Green tea, unlike black tea, actually produces a net relaxant effect because of the theanine contained within the brew. Meanwhile, the catechins – which total around 100mg per cup – increase the levels of noradrenaline in the central nervous system, increasing thermogenesis (and therefore fat burning).
So how effective is it? Anecdotal reports vary, but the scientific studies firmly support it’s use as a weight loss aid. French researchers investigated the use of a green tea extract as a way to improve body composition. Their results, published in the Phytomedicine journal, found that three months’ use reduced both body weight and waist circumference in volunteers by almost five percent. A 1999 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that green tea extracts increased the metabolism by 3.5%, and the proportion of energy that came from fat shot up from 31% to an impressive 41%. In short, it increases the rate of fat burning by a third.
However, green tea is more than simply a fat-burner. The beverage, made from the partially fermented leaves of the camelia sinensis plant, demonstrates the ability to reduce blood pressure, the oxidation of cholesterol and lower the risk of heart attacks. The powerful antioxidants also support healthy liver and immune function. The benefits associated with green tea continue to rise, year on year.
There does not appear to be a clear agreement on how much green tea is optimal, for fat burning or cardiovascular protection. I often recommend around three to five cups per day, and the results suggests that this delivers enough of the catechins to significantly enhance fat burning.`
Despite being a firm advocate for the benefits of green tea, I feel it is worthwhile pointing out that green tea may not be as suitable for all individuals. Those I have spoken to at length in regards to chronic fungal infections and other immune system imbalance will know the importance I place on Th1/Th2 balance. High levels of green tea consumption may move some sensitive individuals towards Th2 dominance but I stress that this is rarely a problem, especially in the presence of good zinc and antioxidant status.
Green tea has been widely consumed for thousands of years by many societies across the globe. It still has a major role to play in prevention of chronic disease and improvement of body composition. It’s unique status as a fat-burning and health-promoting drink makes it a no-brainer for most, and I would encourage almost everyone to make things easier for themselves and add green tea to their regime.