By now most of us have heard that green tea may be able to help us lose weight. And, we may have also heard that green tea may be able to lower cholesterol, helping to improve our cardiovascular health.
Many of us wonder just how much green tea can help us and exactly how we should use it. Well, a recent scientific study suggests that green tea may be more effective in early phases of weight loss, as a jump start. It also suggests that you shouldn't count on green tea alone to change weight related issues like high cholesterol.
The study I'm referring to was reported by the UK Tea Council. In the study, researchers looked at 46 women, each with a Body Mass Index of around 27; meaning that they were moderately overweight. The study was conducted over an 87 day period, and evaluated in two phases. During the period, participants were all fed a low calorie diet.
Some of the participants were given green tea, and others a placebo. All of the participants had their weight loss and blood parameters measured on days 4, 32 and 87. Day 32 marked the end of phase one and day 87 the end of phase 2.
At the end of phase one, the participants had averaged a weight loss of .09 kg per day, whether or not they consumed green tea. Some of the blood parameters, such as triglyceride levels, glucose levels and total cholesterol levels showed improvement at the end of phase one. However, there was no significant difference in blood level improvements between the participants who took green tea and those who took the placebo.
At the end of phase 2, the weight loss average had slowed to .03 kg per day in both the green tea and placebo groups. And, the positive changes in the blood parameters that had been noted at the end of phase one had been, on average, reversed in both groups by the end of phase 2. Weight loss had continued, but blood parameters had not improved in either group. However, high blood pressure and HDL levels had improved in both groups; this was attributed primarily to the fact that the subjects had lost weight.
There are two important lessons we can learn from this study. The first is that there is no magic bullet. Simply adding a green tea supplement to your diet is not likely to make you lose a lot of weight easily, nor is it a quick fix to your cholesterol problems.
The secret to long lasting weight loss is long term changes in your diet and exercise levels. One thing this study did not incorporate was the level of exercise of the participants. Yet other research has shown that exercise is a key component to both weight loss and lowering cholesterol levels.
As with many other findings, this study shows us that we need to do more research.
Other studies have shown a link between green tea consumption and thermogenesis - fat burning heat in the body. There has been significant evidence in the past to suggest that green tea does speed up the metabolism. In addition, other studies have suggested that green tea can help improve cholesterol levels when combined with sensible diet and exercise.
So, what we might learn from this study is that exercise is a critical component. Many doctors have suggested before that dietary changes without exercise are less likely to lead to long term weight loss. Perhaps exercise is an even more important part of lowering cholesterol and helping green tea ignite our metabolism than we even realized.
We know for sure that weight loss is one of those things that is simple but not easy. To lose weight and lower our cholesterol and blood pressure levels, we need to make regular exercise and sensible diet a part of our daily life.
Cutting calories drastically only leads to yo-yo dieting and trying to diet without exercise is like only seeing half the picture. Not only can regular exercise burn excess calories, but it also build muscle, which is critical to maintaining weight loss.
Muscle, even when resting, burns more calories than fat. Therefore building muscle helps speed up our metabolism for the long term, which helps us not only lose weight, but maintain the loss as well. In addition, regular exercise helps us lower our cholesterol levels and blood pressure, even before we lose the weight. Once we see weight loss as well, those numbers will improve even further.
So, it seems we need all the tools we can get to help us lose weight and get our cholesterol in check. For some of us, adding green tea may provide a metabolism boost that helps speed up the process and help lower cholesterol in the process. Others may find that green tea doesn't help in their battle of the bulge.
However, drinking green tea is a healthy habit, even if it isn't an effective weight loss tool for you. Green tea is filled with anti-oxidants that can help prevent disease and premature aging. Over the last few years, we've discovered that green tea is one of the healthiest beverages around. So, give it a try; you've got nothing to lose - except possibly a few pounds!