If you've been on the lookout for ways to lose weight, or to simply pursue a healthier lifestyle, chances are you've heard of green tea. Green tea's health benefits are multifold - from boosting your mood and metabolism to reducing appetite, it's hailed as a natural weight-loss hero.
If you've decided to give green tea a try and are wondering how to best integrate it into your day for weight loss or fitness purposes, then this blog is for you! We'll be looking into questions like when to have green tea, ingredients to pair it with, and how many cups to have in a day.
Understanding the Science Behind Green Tea and Weight Loss
Before we get into the specifics of how to lose weight with green tea, it's important we go over why it seems to work so well for weight loss. To put it briefly, green tea contains numerous antioxidants, with one of the most prominent being Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG). This compound has been observed to be extremely effective in boosting metabolism, targeting belly fat and increasing fat oxidation, and reducing appetite.
Caffeine, another compound found in green tea, also has been found to boost metabolism and reduce appetite. These properties make for a safe and effective way to lose weight, both by lowering your calorie intake and increasing how fast you burn calories and fat.
To read more on this topic, head to our blog: "How Green Tea Helps with Weight Loss!"
What is the best time to drink green tea for weight loss?
Let's begin with the best time during the day to have green tea. This advice also applies to green tea extracts, since those are usually full of beneficial antioxidants found in a few cups of green tea, and have the same benefits. Below are a few times during the day when we recommend drinking green tea.
1. In the Morning:
Kickstart your day and your metabolism with a cup of green tea in the morning. By raising your metabolic rate first thing in the morning with the tea, your body burns calories more efficiently throughout the day. Additionally, green tea's appetite-lowering properties can keep you feeling relatively full during the first few hours of the day.
2. Just Before a Workout:
Green tea can be a great pre-workout drink. Consuming it about an hour or two before you exercise can help increase the rate of fat breakdown during the workout. The caffeine can also provide an energy boost and improve exercise performance, allowing you to burn more calories.
3. Between Meals:
Hunger pangs between meals are common. However, research suggests snacking and eating small plates of food throughout the day aren't ideal for weight loss nor your health in general. Binge eating can sneakily catch up with you, causing an increase in body fat and weight. Sipping green tea during these parts of the day can help control your appetite. This can help you ignore your mid-day craving for high-calorie, processed snacks, lowering your calorie intake!
4. After Meals:
While all the weight loss benefits of green tea seem to take place before you eat, having a cup of green tea after meals is also helpful. A 2004 study found that the tea can aid in digestion as well as reduce the absorption of cholesterol and lipids from food. In doing so, it can help lower blood pressure (by keeping cholesterol levels under control), while also keeping you feeling light after eating.
5. Before Bed:
While we won't recommend this to everyone, green tea can be had before bed as well. If you're not too caffeine-sensitive, then green tea is the perfect way to wind down at the end of a day - it's been found to promote a sense of calm and improve sleep through a compound called Theanine, which indirectly supports weight loss by reducing stress-related eating.
However, if you're sensitive to caffeine, green tea might not be ideal. Though it has far less caffeine content compared to most other teas (since it's the least oxidized) from the Camellia Sinensis plant, it may still end up disrupting your sleep cycle. In this case, it's best to try either a decaffeinated green tea or a plain, herbal tea.
4 Tips to Remember When Making Green Tea
- Unprocessed Green Tea is Best: Choosing a high-quality, unprocessed green tea free from additives is recommended. Artificial green tea (especially in the case of matcha) can lack most of the beneficial compounds needed to burn fat and lose weight.
- Steep for Only 2-3 Minutes: To extract the maximum benefits from green tea, steep it in water that is around 175-185°F (80-85°C) for 2-3 minutes. While steeping it in a higher temperature for a longer time is possible, doing so can burn the leaves and lower the concentration of tea catechins. The tea may also become astringent and difficult to drink.
- Avoid Sweeteners: As green itself only contains about 3 calories, it's best to drink it on its own. Adding an artificial sweetener can increase the calories unnecessarily. Instead, try and use a natural, subtle sweetener like honey.
- Adding Spice: Studies have found that green tea can be combined with capsaicin (the spice compound) to enhance green tea's fat burning effect. However, capsaicin is usually found in red chilies, which you may not want to add to a warm cup of tea. The good news is that there's many other related spice-compounds that work alongside green tea to enhance its medicinal properties.
This includes gingerol, from ginger, which has been found to aid digestion and also help metabolism. Piperine, found in black pepper, can also be infused in green tea as research suggests that it can "inhibit the formation of new fat cells."
How Many Cups of Green Tea Should You Drink a Day for Weight Loss?
To see the weight loss benefits at their fullest potential, it's important to drink green tea regularly. Now you might be wondering: how many times a day should I be drinking green tea? Is it dangerous to have too many cups of green tea? Whether you're leaning towards matcha green tea or just plain old tea leaves, it's recommended that you have about 3-5 cups a day at most.
Having too many cups of tea - upwards of 6-7 cups - can cause side effects such as feelings of anxiety, nausea, vomiting, and constipation.
Incorporating green tea into your routine can be a valuable tool in your weight loss and fitness goals. However, it's important to remember that green tea alone cannot help in losing weight. A healthy lifestyle with regular exercise and fewer calories is necessary - green tea works only as an aid. Adding to this, it's always important to see what works for you - if you're having the tea for the first time, begin with it gradually to see if it suits you. Always consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian before making significant changes to your diet.