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Green tea and weight loss

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By David Liu, PHD

Wednesday Aug 15, 2012 (foodconsumer.org) -- Weight loss may not be as hard as you thought.   A new study suggests that simply taking high doses of green tea extract may also help prevent weight gain or help weight loss in those who can't stop eating a high fat diet or typically the Western diet.

The study led by J. Bajerska of Poznan University of Life Sciences in Poznan, Poland and colleagues showed that rats on a high fat diet supplemented with 2% green tea extract, which was water soluble, for eight weeks decreased body weight gain by 5.6 percent and prevented visceral fat accumulation by 17.8 percent, compared to those not using green tea diet.  In other words, taking green tea extract may help weight loss.

In their report published in Nutrition Research, the authors say that green tea extract is associated with lots of health benefits mainly because is is able to reduce body fat and hyopcholesterolemic activities, which further reduced risk of heart disease among other things.

For the study, rats fed with a high fat diet enriched with 1.1 and 20.% green tea aqueous extract for weeks had significantly decrease atherogenic index by about 14%, but only 2% supplementation resulted in a weight loss effect, helping prevent weight gain and fat accumulation.

The downside is that green tea extract at both doses reduced the digestion of protein by about 11%, compared to controls. This is not something food consumers need to worry about because according to Dr. T Colin Campbell, a distinguished nutrition professor at Cornell University says Americans eat too much protein.  Normally, around 11% is sufficient, but Americans eat about 16%.

The researchers concluded " Green tea aqueous extract may have preventive effects on the accumulation of visceral fat but only in higher doses." That means green tea benefits now include the prevention of weight gain or helping weight loss.

Green tea extract is available as dietary supplements.  Forget those weight loss pills or weight loss supplements.  Green tea or green extract supplements  have been known for a long time to help weight loss.  They are not as cheap as wheat flour, but they are not as expensive as weight loss surgery either.

What needs to be kept in mind though are the dosage and the timing of taking the supplement.  The study found only the high dose delivered a weight loss effect.  

One previous study led by C.H. Hsu of National Yang-Ming University in Taipei, Taiwan found that taking one capsule 400 mg) three times per day for 12 weeks did not result in a signficant weight loss in women with a body mass index greater than 27 kg/m2.  The study was published in Clinical Nutrition.

It is believed that green tea extract supplements should be taken right after a meal. This practice allows green tea extract to inhibit pancreatic lipase so less fat can be picked up and utilized by the body.

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