Green Tea Diet: What You Need to Know

Could a cup of green tea help you lose weight? See more weight loss tips pictures.

"Lose 20 pounds in 20 days!" "Trim inches off your waistline with one easy pill!" With seemingly miraculous guarantees like these, who wouldn't want to give diet pills a try? But with so many diets, supplements and pills to choose from, it's easy to get overwhelmed by choices. What really works? What's worth your money? And, most importantly, what's actually safe and healthful to be putting into your body?

This last question -- and the fact that more and more studies are claiming certain supplements and chemicals can cause more harm than good to your body -- has been pushing people toward the use of gentler, more natural weight loss supplements. As a result, green tea has gained popularity as a safe, effective weight loss aid.


For centuries, certain cultures -- especially those in China and Japan -- have been drinking tea for its health benefits. Among tea choices, green tea has been especially noted for its positive antioxidant, anticarcinogenic and metabolic properties. Many of these benefits are due to its high amounts of polyphenols, especially a certain polyphenol called EGCG. Because they contain potent antioxidant properties, polyphenols are thought to help the body's immune system, protecting cells against disease-causing free radicals [source: University of Maryland Medical Center]. Thanks to this composition of chemicals, green tea has been said to protect against everything from cancer to high cholesterol to heart disease. And some even claim that EGCG may boost the metabolism, suppress appetite and even burn fat.

But will this healthful supplement really help you drop those pounds? Read on to find out how green tea is used in diet pills.


Green Tea Diet Pills

So how can an ancient beverage be used in a diet pill? Green tea diet pills use the same leaves that are used to make the drinkable green tea, but they are in a concentrated form. When a diet pill contains green tea extract, supposedly, the "extract" is the polyphenols from the green tea leaves.

In addition to EGCG and its benefits -- including increased metabolism -- green tea also contains caffeine, which is said to be a mild appetite suppressant. Caffeine is also said to speed up thermogenesis, which is the body's process of producing heat that leads to fat burning.


Though these benefits can be obtained through drinking green tea, some people would rather swallow a couple pills rather than gulp down cups and cups of a beverage every day. For those who do prefer the pill form, there are many varieties of green tea diet pills. Some pills contain 100 percent green tea extract -- these are basically just super-concentrated green tea. However, the majority of green tea diet pills also contain other weight-loss supplements, such as chromium or hoodia. When used in combination with these stronger appetite suppressants, these are said to be more effective, though additional research is needed to be certain.

When choosing a green tea diet pill, the important thing to look for is the amount of polyphenols, also called catechins, which the pill contains, since this is the main substance that gives green tea its weight-loss properties. If you're taking a pill that contains 100 milligrams of catechins twice daily, that's equivalent to about two cups of green tea. Is the pill worth it? Some experts suggest looking for a pill that contains 125 to 500 milligrams of polyphenols, though there is no established recommended dose [source: Pizzo].

Read on to find out if the polyphenols and catechins are really worth the mouthful!


Does the Green Tea Diet Work?

Some experts swear by green tea and say that the high levels of EGCG will help you shed those excess pounds. Others say it's not the EGCG but rather the caffeine in green tea that aids in thermogenesis and in the increased rate of metabolism. Still others claim that green tea alone really is not all that helpful as a weight-loss aid.

There are a number of ways in which a substance can help you lose weight. But two main weight-loss factors are the suppression of appetite and the increase of metabolism; green tea is said to do both. EGCG, that special antioxidant chemical, is said to increase metabolism and lower "bad" cholesterol [source: Pizzo]. Furthermore, it is suggested that EGCG may also help regulate glucose, or blood sugar levels, since it has the potential to act as a "carb-blocker," or to help inhibit the absorption of carbohydrates [source: The Hoffman Center].


It's important to keep in mind, though, that although there have been a few studies on the effectiveness of green tea as a weight-loss aid, results have been mixed. More studies are needed for conclusive evidence for or against the weight-loss properties of green tea. Furthermore, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate supplements such as green tea extract, so strength, effectiveness and safety aren't guaranteed [source: Mayo Clinic].

If you do choose to incorporate green tea diet pills into your weight-loss regimen, there are a few steps that may increase its effectiveness and that will help you maintain a healthy lifestyle. First, be sure to drink lots of water. Because many of the ingredients in green tea diet pills are diuretics -- which help rid the body of excess water -- it's important to stay hydrated.

Also, though many green tea diet pills don't contain as much caffeine as a cup of coffee, it's still important to realize that they do contain caffeine and therefore could cause side effects such as irritability or nausea if taken too often. Follow dosage instructions and pay attention to how your own body is responding to the pills -- if necessary, take the pills only a few days a week, or take only one pill a day. If drinking green tea, aim for two to three cups a day [source: University of Maryland Medical Center]. As with any diet or supplement, you should always talk to your doctor before starting a green tea regimen.

For more information on green tea and dieting, be sure to check on the links on the next page.


Lots More Information

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

  • Best Diet for Me. "The Green Tea Diet." (Accessed March 29, 2009).
  • Diets in Review. "Green Tea." (Accessed March 29, 2009).
  • Green Tea Lovers. "Tea History." (Accessed March 29, 2009).
  • Green Tea Tips. "Green Tea Diet." (Accessed March 29, 2009).
  • Herbal Supplements Guide. "Benefits of Green Tea for Dieting." (Accessed March 29, 2009).
  • The Hoffman Center. "EGCG - potent extract of green tea." (Accessed March 29, 2009).
  • Mayo Clinic. "Green tea (Camellia sinensis)." March 1, 2008. (Accessed March 29, 2009).
  • Pizzo, Caroline. "4 Ways to Lose Weight with Green Tea." May 6, 2008. (Accessed March 29, 2009).]/
  • Tai, Julian. "Catechins Extract: 10 Green Tea Diet Pills Reviewed." 2009. (Accessed March 29, 2009).
  • University of Maryland Medical Center. "Green tea." 2008. (Accessed March 29, 2009).