Can Green Tea Extract Burn Fat, Increase Endurance?

Don't be surprised if you hear relatively soon on the news about a study that found the use of green tea extract over a 10-week span boosts one's exercise performance by as much as 24 percent. The report claims the study's 24 percent increase in swimming time-to-exhaustion was "accompanied by lower respiratory quotients and higher rates of fat oxidation."

Green tea's fat-burning properties are related to a class of polyphenols called catechins, which consist mainly of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), epicatechin gallate and gallocatechin gallate. Catechins have been reported to have various physiological and pharmacological properties over the years. In recent research on mice, scientists found the long-term consumption of tea catechins was beneficial in counteracting the obesity-inducing effects of a high-fat diet, and that their effects could be attributed, partly, to the activation of hepatic lipid catabolism.

How much green tea would one need to consume to enjoy these benefits? Scientists estimate a 165-pound athlete would have to drink about four cups of green tea daily to match that beneficial effect in their experiments. An interesting factoid: One single and higher "dose" of green tea extract did nothing to improve performance, leading researchers to conclude only long-term use has a beneficial effect.

However, I'm skeptical about the results because the research was sponsored by Kao Corp., a Japanese health care manufacturer that makes and sells, among others, green tea beverages. Still, the presence of catechins is a good thing, as they have been found to protect the heart and cardiovascular system.

Also, green tea should not be substituted for the daily amount of pure water your body needs to sustain and optimize your health.

EurekAlert January 27, 2005

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