Drink Tea! Lose Weight?

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drink tea to lose weight!!!


shangri-lade-montage-webWhat’s not to love about that?

Drink what I love and lose weight at the same time?!

Except for the fact that I drink tea all day long and have not experienced any notable weight loss. And the fact that I am always skeptical of claims written with exclamation marks!

But every so often these claims re-emerge in news reports—enough to keep people talking.

And it turns out that there is some science behind the claims—enough to keep scientists pursuing this line of research.


First, the secret to weight gain (or, what happens when we eat lots and lots of junk food)

Not so hard to figure out the cause and effect of food and physique! What happens physiologically is that:

  • fat cells get bigger
  • we get more fat cells

527 brew_crop

Second, can we counteract that??

Back in 2009, J. Söhle and colleagues looked at human precursor fat cells (preadipocytes) and white tea extract. Did tea affect whether the precursors matured into full-blown fat cells (or adipocytes, specialized cells that store fat)?

Short answer? Yes, actually.

And were their results tea dependent?

Well, they used white tea because it undergoes the least processing (oxidation) of all the teas, and only the new growth (buds and first leaves) of the plant are used. This means that white tea contains more polyphenols (including epigallocatechin [EGCG] and epicatechin) and more methylxanthines (caffeine and theobromine) than do green or black teas.

So about those results—

Söhle’s team (2009) found that the human cells exposed to white tea extract had lower triglyceride levels; the acting agent may be the polyphenol EGCG.

Lower triglyceride levels mean that fat is being broken down (lipolysis), with triglycerides being converted into fatty acids and glycerol.

Further, white tea extract appeared to discourage precursor fat cells from turning into full-fledged fat cells—at least in human subcutaneous cells. As Söhle et al. (2009) state,

This plant [white tea] extract is, therefore, an ideal natural source to modulate the adipocyte life cycle at different stages and to induce anti-obesity effects.

The caveat?

Exposing cells to white tea extract under laboratory and controlled circumstances is nowhere the same as a person drinking a cup of white tea.

However,

We do know that tea—Camellia senensis leaves—provides many health benefits, and results of this study are definitely encouraging. So I am putting the kettle on right now!


Source: Söhle, J. et al. “White tea extract induces lipolytic activity and inhibits adipogenesis in human subcutaneous (pre)-adipocytes,” Nutrition & Metabolism 6:20. 2009.

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