Tea and New Year's Resolutions
It’s the start of the New Year and most of us have already made resolutions of one sort or another. Those that aresimple to incorporate into our lives are the ones we are most likely to stick with. January is National Hot Tea Month and the potential benefits of drinking more tea (simple, inexpensive and delicious) are numerous;
- Helping in the ongoing battle of the bulge
- Increasing the body's immunity helping to ward off colds and flu.
- Potentially lowering the risk of disease.
The Weight Loss Connection
The two main ways to reduce food related body weight are; increase energy expenditure (EE) and inhibit the absorption of nutrients, including fat and carbohydrates. Caffeine is a stimulant so it is widely accepted that the caffeine in tea increases metabolism, hence increasing EE. So the question becomes, is it only the caffeine or are other compounds in the tea contributing to that increase?
One study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggested that substances in tea may even promote weight loss by increasing the amount of energy spent by the body. The theory is that green tea, because of the catechin (pronounced "cat E kins") content, has thermogenic properties that promote fat oxidationthat may work together with other chemicals to increase weight loss. With more than half of all Americans suffering from excess weight or obesity, this is welcome news.
The study was conducted on healthy young men who ate a typical Western diet for six weeks. The study participants also consumed one of the following with their 3 daily meals;
The equivalent of one cup of green tea plus 50 milligrams of caffeine.
50 milligrams of caffeine only.
The men in group A, who consumed the equivalent of 3 cups of green tea per day, showed a significant increase in the number of calories they used in a 24 hour period over either of the other groups B or C. This increase calorie burn resulted in more fats being metabolized by the body for energy.
The Chinese have long believed that oolong tea is beneficial in reducing and maintaining weight. A Chinese study, in 1998, of 102 females showed that continuous consumption of oolong tea for six weeks resulted in a reduction of body weight. This study, along with the question of other compounds contributing to tea's weight loss benefits, spurred further research.
In 2001, Physiologist Dr. William Rumpler, of the US Agriculture Research Services' Diet and Human Laboratory, investigated the ancient Chinese belief that oolong tea is effective in controlling body weight. The study measuredhow tea influences energy expenditure (EE) and included 12 male volunteers who were given 4 separate beverage formulas over three consecutive days. The beverage formulas consisted of; 1) full strength oolong tea, 2) caffeinated water with caffeine equal to full strength oolong tea, 3) half strength oolong tea and 4) non caffeinated water.
The participants 24 hour EE was measured and resulted in;
- EE levels were about 3% higher when they drank either the full strength oolong tea or the caffeinated water versus the non caffeinated water.
- Participants burned an average of 67 more calories per day when drinking the full strength oolong tea .
- Participants increased fat oxidation (fat burning) by a whooping 12% after consuming the full strength oolong tea versus the caffeinated water.
- This data confirms that a component other than the caffeine is responsible for promoting the preferential of fat as an energy source.
The increase in fat oxidation in this study is amazing! Drinking oolong tea can actually tell your body to burn fat for energy!
Immune System Connection
While drinking tea can help us look better physically, we also have the opportunity to feel better than our coffee drinking counterparts. Research reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that people who drank 3 cups of black tea per day produced 5 times the amount of germ fighting cells than those who drank coffee, suggesting that tea drinkers have more ability to fight viral infections such as colds and flu than non tea drinkers.