Green Tea – Fat Loss Belly Burner or Belly Fat Burning Hype?

With all the hype and ads trying to pitch "fat burners" it’s no wonder people are consumed.

We’re at the park last night with Ella — our daily routine — and as we’re playing with her, we overheard a conversation between two moms.  What was it about?  Losing their "baby weight" even though they both joked because their youngest were now 5.

Our ears immediately perked up when they then brought up how they saw in a magazine that drinking tea burns fat, so she’s recently started doing that everyday. 

Let’s take a look at this.

Tea is known for it’s health benefits.  Some data suggests it may reduce heart disease, other data suggests it can improve mental focus, and several studies have also suggested drinking green tea may boost fat loss.

And, actually, although a lot of the data and marketing has suggested green tea to be the magic bullet, there has been some other data suggesting all tea is beneficial.  "All tea" meaning green, black, or white teas, which are from the same Camellia sinensis plant. 

Herbal teas, on the other hand, don’t have the same powerful health benefits that actual tea does have.  

Let’s explore this fat loss thing a bit more, though.

While the research suggesting drinking tea can burn belly fat has never been too strong, there was some early on to at least give a bit of hope.  And we always suggested that even if that fat loss benefit doesn’t pan out, tea is still great for you, so drinking it daily is smart.  It’s also a calorie free drink that gives an alternative to plain water.  So while tea itself may not be a magical fat loss supplement, according the latest data, it’s a fantastic option.

Let’s take a look at the study published this month in the esteemed American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Effect of green tea catechins with or without caffeine on anthropometric measures: a systematic review and meta-analysis — January 2010).

This meta-analysis (an analysis of the results of multiple studies) looked at the overall effects of green tea catechins on body mass index, body weight, waist to hip ratio, and waist circumference.

As an aside, catechins are the antioxidants that are particularly high in green tea.  They are responsible for many of the health benefits and supposedly for the fat burning properties of tea.

Here’s the summary of this analysis:

  • Researchers reviewed 15 Green Tea studies.
  • Green Tea catechins helped reduce body weight an average of 3 pounds in the studies, but only when combined with caffeine (the studies without caffeine showed NO fat loss benefits)

Although statistically significant, the researchers concluded the clinical significance of the fat loss benefits is modest at best (read: useless).

In my opinion, the final word on this after looking at this entire study is:

Green tea (and all tea) is super healthy and definitely suggested.  If you’re looking to tea to shed extra body fat, however, you’re not going to have much luck.  If you instead replace other higher calorie beverages with unsweetened, real brewed green tea, you’re making a great decision!

What do you think?


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