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Green Tea And Weight Loss: What Does Science Say?

Written by Jim Duncan, MSW | Last updated:

Green tea is more than just a beverage. It’s loaded with antioxidants like EGCG and can be very beneficial for your health. The question is, does green tea for weight loss work? Read on to find out more about green tea, weight loss, and what your genes have to say about it.

An Introduction to Green Tea and Weight Loss

To be perfectly honest, there is no panacea for weight loss. As much as we’d love to present you with something that will, “Burn that fat away in 30 days!”, there is no single thing that will do that. No single thing. Keyword: Single.

Everything is interconnected, and you can’t isolate one particular element to focus on that will make “the” difference in whatever issue you are concerned with.

It’s not as simple as saying have some green tea for weight loss. It’s a system of elements that all act upon one another in various ways that is unique to you, and weight loss issues are no different.

We can, hopefully, with our research, provide you information on particular elements like genetics, diet, or lifestyle. This may help you optimize all of those elements that affect your issue of interest and achieve whatever goals you may have set for yourself.

To that end, the following is about green tea, the important compounds in it, and how it can be one possible part of your solution.

Why Drink Green Tea?

It’s time for you to go green! While we certainly encourage you to be environmentally conscious, the green we’re referring to here is the “green” of green tea. Why not black tea? Or for that matter, coffee?

Everyone touts the benefits of one or the other, and basically every energy drink you pick up will indicate green tea extract in the ingredients. But flavor contests aside, why would you choose green tea for weight loss specifically?

In western cultures, it would likely come in third. For those who like their tea “black” instead of “green”, understand that they are actually the same plant. Black tea is just processed differently [1].

The answer on which one to pick though is easy-peasy! That’s because it comes down to EGCG. Silly rhymes aside, it is the catechin in green tea that makes it all worth the while. Yes, coffee is awesome, but the benefits it does actually provide likely get second place to green tea.

What is EGCG?

One of the primary benefits of drinking coffee and tea is the fact that they both have polyphenols in them. They also have caffeine, which can also provide benefits, but we’re just going to focus on the first.

Polyphenols are organic compounds found in numerous plants and include flavonoids and tannins. Flavonoids have been researched pretty extensively, and their capabilities can be attributed to their anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, and anti-mutagenic properties [2].

A primary category of flavonoids is catechins, which is what EGCG is. The abbreviation stands for epigallocatechin gallate, and green tea has more of it than any other plant source (though apples and cherries are also good sources).

What Are Some EGCG Benefits?

Catechins are antioxidants. They destroy free radicals in your body, which, if out of balance, can cause oxidative stress and lead to things like cancer. Some studies indicate they can also help lower LDL cholesterol [3,4].

Before you take that information and start consuming antioxidants by the bucketful, understand that those “bad” free radicals actually perform a useful function as well. Our immune system utilizes them to destroy invaders. Like all things in your body, balance is the key.

But is there a link between green tea and weight loss? While you might feel convinced by the benefits of EGCG, weight loss is the main focus of this post. Good news! Research indicates that this catechin is effective at helping out there too [5, 6, 7]!

There is one caveat though with the research that may influence how you decide to get your EGCG. There have been studies that indicate caffeine helps boost the effect of the catechin in a way that makes it significant enough to ensure you consume them together [8, 9, 10].

Now, before you rush out to buy up your local store’s stock of energy drinks crammed with green tea extract and caffeine, understand that there is no control or guidelines over the amount of extract contained in those drinks.

We’re not here to knock energy drinks per se. It is, however, more beneficial when you can be aware of the exact amounts of things you are consuming.

If you are wanting to consume EGCG and caffeine together, we suggest you utilize a method that allows for that, like getting your EGCG through a green tea extract supplement. It should be noted that both are actually in green tea.

One final benefit to note about green tea is that it also contains L-theanine, which has been shown to increase alpha brainwave activity and GABA levels [11]. This is where the notion of green tea making you feel more awake without the jitters comes from.

What Do My Genes Have to Say About Green Tea and Weight Loss?

As you might have noticed from the above information, taking green tea for weight loss is more beneficial for you when it’s boosted by the effects of caffeine. There is a synergistic effect between the two that makes your body utilize it better. Well, your genes can get in on that action too!

Your COMT gene produces an enzyme that helps break down neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine. It may be that a variant in this gene actually helps you utilize polyphenols better. This could increase the effectiveness of EGCG and make it more useful for helping your weight loss efforts [12, 13]. So, be sure to find out if you have it!

The SelfDecode Weight DNA Wellness report can help you find out if green tea and weight loss are a good combination for you. SelfDecode analyzes over 455,000 genetic variants to give you personalized recommendations based on your DNA.

Green tea for weight loss DNA report

SelfDecode not only tells your genetic risk scores but also what you can do to counteract the negative effects of your genes. 

Maybe you have that COMT variant that makes green tea and weight loss a more effective combination, but there are other genes that can influence your weight.

For example, the FTO gene has been linked to obesity. Depending on which variants you carry, sticking to a Mediterranean diet may be more beneficial to you [14, 15].

The truth is, your body is complicated. Many factors can influence how you respond to these wellness strategies like green tea for weight loss. Your genes can give you an advantage by helping you understand what your priorities are so that you can focus on what’s most important.

Concluding Remarks About Green Tea And Weight Loss

Yes, drinking green tea for weight loss may be a good strategy, but it’s just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to your well-being. The EGCG compound in green tea can have many health benefits, but as we’ve demonstrated above, your genetics may play a role. If you’re interested in gene-based recommendations to help you manage your weight, you should check out SelfDecode.

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About the Author

Jim Duncan

Jim completed his M.S.W. in Social Work Administration at Portland State University. He has always been interested in analyzing social issues, and he helped fund and start a program against domestic violence. He has also conducted many public speaking sessions about violence against women, and published 3 fiction novels. Inspired by SelfDecode’s mission to make precision health a reality, he decided to use his natural writing ability to help teach the world about the power and promise of genomics. His areas of interest include science-based writing,  astronomy, and genomics.


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