Green tea (Camellia sinensis) contains compounds called catechins, including epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), the main catechin responsible for the thermogenic effect of green tea. Its major thermogenic effect comes from the ability of EGCG to inhibit an enzyme that normally breaks down norepinephrine, the neurotransmitter involved in regulating metabolic rate and fat-burning. By inhibiting the enzyme, you maintain higher levels of norepinephrine, which encourages greater calorie and fat burn.
Green tea has also been shown to enhance insulin sensitivity, which allows for better control of blood sugar levels throughout the day. This can further aid fat loss and prevent fat gain when following a mass gain diet.
In addition to aiding fat loss, green tea has been shown to have a laundry list of benefits. These include health benefits—such as a reduced risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes—as well as performance benefits, which include enhanced muscle and joint recovery.
While drinking green tea has become more popular lately, supplementing with green tea extract is far more beneficial. Research confirms that the catechins in green tea, such as EGCG, are absorbed better in supplement form than in tea form.
In fact, if we were putting together a “Supplement Hall of Fame”, there would be a few ingredients that would have to be inducted right away. Just off the top of my head: Whey protein, caffeine, creatine—and one of my all-time favorites: Green tea extract.
In addition to the many health benefits green tea provides, as explained above, it may also enhance brain function and lessen cognitive decline as we age, and provide antibacterial and antiviral protection. Of course, what I like best about it remains its ability to aid in fat loss.
When it comes to fat-burning, the main way green-tea extract works is by increasing the body's metabolic rate so that you burn more calories at rest. As I explained, this property is mainly due to its main active polyphenol component EGCG.
But new research from Poland shows that green-tea extract has another trick up its sleeve to aid fat loss: Blocking carbohydrate uptake by the body.
Researchers from Poznan University fed subjects a starchy meal of cornflakes with low-fat milk—about 50 grams of carbs, 7 grams of protein, 2 grams of fat, and 250 calories—along with green-tea extract—providing about 250mg of EGCG—or a placebo.
They reported in a 2015 issue of the journal Scientific Reports that when the subjects consumed green-tea extract with the corn flakes, they absorbed 30% less carbohydrates from the meal than when they had the same meal with a placebo.
This appears to be due to the ability of EGCG to inhibit the enzymes alpha-glucosidase and alpha-amylase, which normally break down starch into smaller units that can be absorbed by the intestines. The starch that doesn't get broken down into smaller sugar units can't be absorbed by the body and literally gets flushed down the drain.
By limiting the amount of starch from a meal that gets broken down into smaller sugar units, you’re absorbing and utilizing about 30% less starch than you’re actually eating. This can help to lower your carb intake and your overall daily calorie intake, which can further help with fat loss—along with the boost in metabolic rate and other fat-burning mechanisms through which green tea works. All of this makes green-tea extract a true get-lean juggernaut.
To take advantage of all these benefits, shoot for about 200mg-250mg of EGCG from green-tea extract taken right before or with meals. You can easily do this by taking one dose of my fat-burning product Shred JYM—which provides 500mg of green tea extract containing 250mg of EGCG per dose—before meals.