Tea is strongly associated with being healthy and good for us. But, when it comes to metabolism and weight, green tea may be the healthiest of all teas— and, thanks to its unique compounds, you can use green tea for natural and gentle weight loss support.
Read on to learn all about how you can use green tea for weight loss. But keep in mind: natural teas, herbs, and foods are not a miracle cure!
Green tea can’t replace healthy diet and exercise. That said, it’s known to be one of the best natural enhancements for metabolism and weight support there is.
What is Green Tea? | Health Benefits
Green tea is one of the most widely enjoyed beverages on the planet, topping the list along with water and coffee. The tea itself is dried leaves harvested from the Camellia sinensis plant, which is also the source of other popular teas like black tea, white tea, and oolong tea.
Besides weight loss (which we’ll get to shortly), green tea is already known for many other health benefits. Including:
- Boosting heart health and balancing blood pressure
- Supporting depression and anxiety (thanks to L-theanine, a green tea compound)
- Gently increasing energy levels (thanks to caffeine and L-theanine combined)
- Increasing brain function and improving memory
- Providing important nutrients (vitamins A, B, C, zinc, manganese, and more)
How Does Green Tea Support Weight Loss?
Most of green tea’s health benefits, including those that support weight loss, are owed to antioxidants, phytochemicals, and other plant compounds found within the plant and its leaves, even long after drying and creation into the tea we know and drink.
The foremost of all these are catechins. These are antioxidant plant-based compounds that green tea has an incredible abundance of compared to other known plant sources.
Even among catechins, there is one type that has drawn a lot of attention, called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (abbreviated EGCG for short). It is this specific compound, and other catechins found in green tea too (though to a lesser extent), that has the crazy impact on metabolism that it does— and which could easily be called the “holy grail” of catechins.
There is also a moderate amount of caffeine in green tea which is much less compared to other caffeinated drinks, still, it’s enough to stimulate fat burning.
According to studies and research, scientists have found that EGCG has a beneficial effect on human metabolism— and thus, potential weight loss— in the following ways:
Mobilize Fat Burning
EGCG (with caffeine) helps turn more fat into energy. The green tea compound boosts hormones in the body that help “mobilize” fat burning.
While exercising, EGCG more quickly triggers the fat-burning process. In one study, EGCG kickstarted fat burning by 17% more compared to exercise without it.
Increases Brown Fat
Catechins increase brown fat in the body over white fat. Healthier brown fat helps kick start metabolism to process or shrink white fat in the body, all made possible by green tea.
Prevents Gaining Fat
EGCG stops new fat in its tracks. That’s right: drinking green tea and getting plenty of this antioxidant can make it so your body doesn’t add more fat in the first place. This includes stubborn belly fat or abdominal fat, some of the hardest fat to lose (but the easiest to gain!)
Helps Processing Sugar and Carbs
Green tea may help regulate blood sugars and insulin. This can in turn improve the way your body responds to fat-forming foods like sugar and carbs, slowing them down and helping your body process them better without putting on weight. (This also reduces obesity and type 2 diabetes risk!)
Boosts Metabolic Rate
Green tea and its catechins can boost your metabolic rate, too. This means that your body literally burns calories at a faster rate, according to one study— though not all studies showed these results.
Guide to Drinking Green Tea for Weight Loss
If you’ve consumed tea before, you’ll know right away that drinking green tea won’t be a challenge at all. However, if you’re new to green tea (or even the entire concept of tea), this is the section for you to tap into green tea’s incredible weight loss support.
Not a big fan of tea or how it tastes? No problem. You can always add things like sugar, cream, or honey to improve the taste of your cup of green tea. Though keep in mind: these can add up to almost 100 calories to your green tea. You’ll have to factor that into a diet if you’re following one. (On its own, a cup of green tea only contains 2 calories).
How to Prepare Green Tea for Weight Loss?
To optimize green tea’s health benefits for weight loss, you’ll need to prepare it a little differently from other teas:
- Step 1: Bring water to boil in a clean stovetop tea kettle.
- Step 2: While waiting, prep tea for brewing. Prepare to use about one teabag per cup or an average-sized mug of hot water. If using loose-leaf green tea, try to use a teapot with an infuser. Add roughly 1-11/2 tablespoons of tea per cup or average-sized mug in your tea infuser.
- Step 3: Once the water reaches a boil, let it rest for about 10 minutes before pouring over your tea. Boiling water (212˚F) will make your green tea taste more bitter, and it also destroys some of its most potent health compounds— especially the catechins that are important to weight loss.
If you want to get an exact hot water temperature for optimal green tea brewing, wait for the hot water to cool to temperatures between 150˚ and 180˚F— though one source says that around 85˚F was found to be the most effective in one study.
- Step 4: Sweeten, add cream, sip, and enjoy once cooled enough to drink.
How Many Times and When to Green Tea for Weight Loss?
Some say that to hit that sweet spot with using green tea for weight loss, you’ll want to drink 2 to 3 cups per day. That means you only need to drink around 2 or 2.5 cups if you want!
Because of the average person’s metabolism and circadian rhythm (and also because tea is just more pleasant as a morning drink…and caffeinated!) most recommend you get your green tea fix in the morning, first thing as you start your day— just like a cup of coffee.
One study shows that drinking it on an empty stomach before eating yields the best results. Drinking it after meals is less effective, since food can interfere with how much of the antioxidant you absorb.
For people on the go: instead of measuring and brewing one cup or mug at a time, try measuring all 2 to 3 cups and brew your tea in a to-go thermos to take to work, to trips, meetings, exercising…you name it!
Which Type of Green Tea is Best for Weight Loss?
Does the type of green tea you buy and drink matter? It might.
There haven’t been any studies or sources (yet) saying that certain types of green tea are better than others for weight loss. That said, if you want the best chances for weight loss, you may want to err on the side of caution.
We recommend you buy the best quality green tea available to you: preferably organic loose-leaf green tea, though some tea companies have excellent bagged teas. Choose reliably sourced green tea from a company you can trust that doesn’t overly process or add chemicals while tea is grown, dried, or packaged.
If you want the most powerful type of green tea, try matcha tea! This is considered the most potent and healthiest type you can drink, with weight loss support included.
It is a concentrated dried powder version of green tea and very strong, with way more compounds than the standard dried leaf type— including EGCG and other catechins. Though be warned: it contains more caffeine and can be more stimulating, too.
Do You Have to Drink Green Tea for Weight Loss?
What if you just don’t like green tea— or tea in general? Do you have to drink it to experience its weight loss benefits?
The answer is no— but also yes. You can seek out green tea supplement capsules, or supplements that only contain catechins or EGCG on their own, which are the compounds responsible for impacting weight and metabolism.
That way, you can experience the benefits without taking a sip of green tea— ever!
However, some experts insist that its not just the isolated compounds that are completely responsible for the benefits. Other compounds only found in the complex makeup of the plant and the tea are responsible, too, creating a synergistic and healthy effect.
Whether you opt for drink tea every morning or popping herbal capsules, green tea is incredible for supporting weight loss. You’ll have to sip it to believe it!
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About the Author
Adrian White is a certified herbalist, organic farmer, and health, food, agriculture, and sustainability freelance writer. She is a past contributor to Healthline with bylines in The Guardian, Civil Eats, Good Housekeeping, Rodale's Organic Life, Precision Ag, and more. She is the owner of Deer Nation Herbs and Jupiter Ridge LLC, an organic farm growing diverse vegetables, mushrooms, herbs, and herbal food and health products.