During the great war of Kurukshetra, Dronacharya was wreaking havoc on the army of Pandavas. He had to be taken out if Pandavas were to win the war. A trick had to be played so Bhima killed an elephant named Ashwatthama (same name as Dronacharya’s son) and started celebrating on the name of “Killing Ashwatthama”. On listening this, Drona was shocked and confirmed from Yudhisther who said “अश्वत्थामा हत: नरो वा कुंजरो वा” with the last two words in a softer voice so that Drona could not hear him and would assume Ashwatthama the human was killed, not the elephant. Being devastated by the news of his son’s death, he dropped his weapons and was killed by Dhrishtadyumna.
You must be wondering why a story from Mahabharata is told in a nutrition article about green tea. And the reason is that the common folk are being fooled similarly by the companies selling green tea/green tea extracts in the name of weight loss/ slimming effects. Also, like Yudhisther, we will see that how companies are manipulating research results to propagate half truths about green tea’s health benefits.
So before we commence further, for those who don’t know, green/black/white/oolong are all products of the same tea plant Camellia sinensis, how they differ is the amount of processing with green tea being the least processed product. All of them are very rich in polyphenols which are quiet beneficial for health. Green tea is particularly high in catechins which lead to the hypothesis that green tea, in particular, induces slimming/fat burning effects. Green tea extracts are processed from these and contain a higher concentrated dose of catechins.
Now, let us discuss the findings of research available in terms of weight loss, fat oxidation and practicality:
- Weight loss: This is the reason why most of us fall in the marketing trap anyway. Now we have to understand that companies promote studies which come out in their product’s favor. This is a big reason why you often see contradictory results published in newspapers about so called superfoods (A must read article on common media news on health). Coming back to the topic, this is why it is necessary to give higher importance to various meta-analysis which objectively quantifies individual studies and conclude on the basis of multiple independent researches. One Meta Analysis including 5 quantifiable studies (154 studies retrieved) suggests negligible weight loss as well as statistically irrelevant decrease in fat %. Another Meta Analysis including 15 studies ( a total of 1945 participants) stated statistically non significant weight loss (so small that it is clinically not important). It further added that consuming green tea had no significant effect on maintenance of weight too. So much for weight loss, eh?
- Fat oxidation: Many companies especially which sell extracts boasts a fat burning effect from consumption of their product. The evidence here is ambiguous at best. A Review article which references over 50 studies from a researcher funded by Unilever ( makers of Lipton Green tea) also accepts that increased fat metabolism effects are inconsistent and can increase/decrease if you are at rest/exercising respectively. Also, the studies which support the hypothesis often compare placebo groups with those given a dose of green tea extracts which contain caffeine too which is a proven supplement anyway. In our opinion, more studies are needed to conclude any decisive guidelines on slimming effects from consumption of green tea and green tea extracts.
- Practicality: Assuming you’re still not convinced and ready to sip on some green tea for its “fat burning effects”, we still have some bad news for you. The supportive studies indicating increased metabolic activity like this one had 1200mg of catechins as the benchmark concentration which roughly translates into 10 cups of green tea. Is it really practical to consume such exorbitant amounts of any beverage for a negligible slimming effect? How many of us like the taste of non sweetened green tea anyway? If you’re adding sugar, you’re countering that supposedly small fat oxidation effect with loads of empty calories which is highly counterproductive. The time taken to prepare that many cups of green tea can be better utilized in any physical activity of your choice and we know that all physical activity works, there are no ambiguous studies regarding that.
To conclude, drinking green tea or any tea is not a crime and it certainly has many health benefits and we recommend it in our plans if the client like them. But if you’re drinking it for weight loss or miracle fat burning effects, you’re drinking it for the wrong reason. At PSI Fitness, we plan everything for clients based on conclusive scientific evidences, not on newspaper articles or diet fads. To know more about our services, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In Lucem Scientiam