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Green Tea Extract: Myth or superfood?

Green Tea extract is becoming increasingly popular amongst many people aiming to lose weight, but does it actually work or is it just hype? Performance analyst Matt Turner MRes investigates.

So what exactly is Green Tea?

Green Tea is made from the leaves of a plant called Camellia sinensis and contains a naturally occurring and highly effective antioxidant - a substance that inhibits oxidation. Green Tea is rich in polyphenols (natural chemicals), with one in particular - epigallocatechin gallate (ECGC) - responsible for most of it's health benefits . We have all heard of the term metabolism. It is commonly referred to as our body digesting the food we eat and converting that into energy. It's not unusual to hear people blame their weight gain on a slow metabolism (myself included), however body size, age, gender and genes all play a role in determining your metabolic rate. The most common way to boost your metabolism speed is to exercise. The ECGC found in Green Tea works alongside the naturally occurring caffeine also found in Green Tea by increasing calorie and fat utilisation. It does this by reducing the ability of the body to store excess carbohydrates as fat.

Where they myth comes in?

There's a lot of debate surrounding the effects of Green Tea. After all Green Tea has been used for thousands of years in Chinese herbal medicine to support general health and well being. Many people believe that it is just the naturally occurring caffeine found in Green Tea is therefore the cause for weight loss. However, I argue if that's true there are still so many other benefits to Green Tea that make it the preferred source of caffeine.

Green Tea benefits

The recent hype surrounding Green Tea, which suggest that it's a superfood come from research suggesting it offers the following potential benefits: Protection against heart disease: Lowering the level of low-density lipoproteins (or LDLs) (bad) cholesterol because the antioxidant inhibits the oxidation of low density glycolipids. Lowering blood pressure: Green Tea acts as a natural inhibitor against the high blood pressure enzymes. Protection against diabetes: Green Tea inhibits the enzyme used to break down food (starch) into sugar, thus helping protect against diabetes. Improving the immune system: Green Tea has been shown to kill some bacteria, which therefore suggest it can reduce food poisoning and bad breath and aid the body in fighting infections. Preventing arthritis: Research suggests Green Tea can reduce the symptoms of inflammation observed with rheumatoid arthritis.

Green Tea extract vs Green Tea bags

Green Tea extract Powder is designed to supply over 40% polyphenols, 20% catechins and 10% ECGC making it one of the strongest green tea extracts available on the market today. Studies have shown that Green Tea extract is much more effective at increasing fat metabolism and blood antioxidant levels, than drinking Green Tea alone. Green Tea Extract is therefore a great choice to support fat loss and general health and well being. I was initially surprised when I first started working with a professional football squad and found that some of the players use various sources of Green Tea on a regular basis. When I questioned them as to why the use it, a few of them said they enjoy the taste of Green Tea bags however some were actually using Green Tea extract and tea bags in order to lose weight. Even though they had a body fat percentage ranging from 5-13% they said they couldn't afford to be fined by their gaffer for putting on weight.

My experience with Green Tea

I am a regular gym user, however, like most of us, finding the time to diet and exercise regularly is difficult with a full-time job and other commitments. I found that taking Green Tea extract after a meal or mixed into a whey protein shake after an exercise session made me feel healthier, even if I hadn't pushed myself too hard. After a week of initially trying Green Tea I saw a noticeable difference, I felt more alert and lighter. Weight management can be a struggle sometimes with irregular eating hours, however, I found that after incorporating Green Tea extract into my diet I lost 6kg in the space of three weeks, and more importantly transformed from a body fat percentage of 21.4% to 18.4%. Like many I enjoy a good brew in the evening, especially with these winter nights approaching. Swapping Green Tea bags for my PG Tips was very hard as you can imagine, however, I have found that I tend to wake up in the morning feeling hungry and sometimes even stomach cramps, which suggests it has boosted my metabolism. Be mindful not to take it too late at night as it does contain caffeine which may keep you awake.
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