Burn that Fat: 7.7% off waistline!

Vincenzo Campi - Kitchen

Kitchen, Oil on canvas by Vincenzo Campi, 1580s, Collection at Pinacoteca di Brera

At times of festivals and reunions, upon scrumptious meals and excuses from the gym, how one wishes a cup of tea could get rid of all that extra fats and calories. Sadly, such miracle tea does not exist. The surplus fat matter-of-factly and securely deposits in the account statement that is the waistline, if not anywhere else.

7.7% of fat off waistline!

Well there is good news. In a 12-week study done in the US basing on 132 healthy but over-weight individuals, people who drank 625 mg of tea catechins daily AND exercised 3 times a week put off on average 7.7% (11.7% max, 3.8% min) of their abdominal fat, compared to 0.3% in those who exercised but did not have the tea drink (1). What is better — there was no special diet involved. This is in agreement with previous lab findings and studies of human subjects (1.1): tea catechins can protect the body from excessive fat.

This is only conditional, however: they exercised 3 hours a week and attended 3 instructed sessions. Persistence pays.

So how much tea should I drink?

Back to the practical question: so do we just pop in a 625 mg tea extract capsule to take care of the tea need? The drink that these proud experiment subjects took was a special mixture, including, amongst other things, 214.4 mg of EGCG (epigallocatechin 3-gallate) (2). Furthermore, we have no reasons to endorse the pill because we know meeting that dosage with real leaf tea is so easy so we do not have to feel like taking a medicine. It is unclear also whether taking extracts will have the same results.

tea in ceramic cups

How much tea should I drink for the effect?

According to the USDA Database for the Flavonoid Content of Selected Foods (3), the ‘mean’ content of EGCG in a cup of green tea is 116.7 mg (4). One may conclude that 2 cups of green tea will easily achieve that 215mg (rounded up) of EGCG daily intake. We think this is need some pretext.

Watch out for quality

Firstly, we all know that EGCG content is much higher in younger tealeaves than older ones: the substances is dispersed in the larger leaf size as the leaf grows, and some are turned into other substances. That is why younger leaves in green tea is a quality marker. In ancient times, green teas tribute to the imperial court were entirely first flushes in early Spring, comprising plucks each only of the leaf shoot and the first tiny half open leaf. The taste also marks a distinct difference.

Another element that lowers the tea polyphenol content in a produced tea is oxidation through exposure to air: bad storage is one cause, but the most commonly seen abomination is chopping the leaves into small pieces, as in teabag tea and machine harvested tea. The multiplied surface of the tealeaves with cut open leaf tissue expose the content to complete air oxidation. The USDA report points out the highest audited amount of EGCG in 100ml of green tea is 203mg, while the lowest can be 2mg.

Therefore, for health and for taste, always use well packed and well stored fine whole-leaf tea.

1. KC Maki et al, Green Tea Catechin Consumption Enhances Exercise-Induced Abdominal Fat Loss in Overweight and Obese Adults, The Journal of Nutrition, first published online on December 11, 2008; doi:10.3945/jn.108.098293
1.1. There are quite a number of successive studies on the topic of green tea or green tea catechin and fat expenditure in human. Here are some samples of them:
MC Venables et al, Green tea extract ingestion, fat oxidation, and glucose tolerance in healthy humans, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2008;87:778–84
M Boschmann et al, The Effects of Epigallocatechin-3-Gallate on Thermogenesis and Fat Oxidation in Obese Men: A Pilot Stud, Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 2007; 26, 4: 389S–395S
T Nagao et al, Ingestion of a tea rich in catechins leads to a reduction in body fat and malondialdehyde-modified LDL in men, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2005;81:122–9
AG Dulloo et al, Efficacy of a green tea extract rich in catechin polyphenols and caffeine in increasing 24-h energy expenditure and fat oxidation in humans, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1999;70:1040–5
2. Epigallocatechin 3-gallate is one of the 6 major tea polyphenols and the most potent one that researchers singled out as responsible for a lot of tea’s health contributing characters
3. USDA Database for the Flavonoid Content of Selected Foods, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2007. Click here to the official USDA link.
4. The USDA report presents the tea contents on a basis of mg/100ml. We have standardize the actual volume in a cup of tea as 150 ml. This amount of 116.7mg of EGCG is a result of the USDA listed 77.8mg/100ml multiplied by the actual volume of a cup. Click to read more about measurements.

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