Green tea has a solid reputation as a healthy drink. Unlike many products that are misrepresented as beneficial (sugar-loaded fruit juices, anyone?), green tea fully deserves its superfood label.
Numerous scientific studies have been conducted to investigate and back up health claims connected with green tea. Several of these properties can be very useful to anyone following a lowcarb diet, such as Atkins, Dukan, Paleo or Keto.
How can green tea benefit a low-carb diet?
Green tea helps to control blood sugar
Recent studies have shown that green tea can inhibit digestion of starchy foods, suppressing the subsequent spike in blood glucose. Anything that can naturally help us to digest less carbs can only be a good thing! [i] [ii]
Green tea boosts fat-burning metabolism
Green tea can assist fat burning – but only alongside diet and exercise. It is not a miraculous magic compound to help you shed pounds while sitting on a sofa (nothing works that way!). However, if you already dieting and exercising, green tea can help to speed up the fat burning process. [iii] [iv]
Green tea contains strong antioxidants
Green tea is considered to be the best food source of catechins – a type of flavanoids that are very powerful antioxidants. Catechins help to prevent oxidative damage to cells more effectively than some other well-known antioxidants. Although there is no solid evidence to suggest that a low-carb diet results in more oxidative damage than a standard diet, taking antioxidants would prevent any potential damage from free radicals. [v] [vi]
Green tea improves energy levels
Green tea contains less caffeine than coffee or black tea, but it does contain some (about half the caffeine content of black tea) so it provides a gentle energising effect, that won’t leave in you in a slump later.
Green tea can lower appetite
Regular consumption of green tea can result in feeling satiated longer after meals. This is obviously of benefit to anyone looking to lose weight, whether on a low-carb diet or not. [vii]
What’s the best way to take green tea?
The best way to take green tea is to drink it!
Get some teabags or loose leaf tea, and start getting those catechins. The only advice I would offer is to get a high-quality tea from a specialist merchant – it will be more expensive, but you will get a lot more pleasure of it. I buy Jade Sword green tea bags from Jing – at 30p a teabag, they are a lot more expensive than supermarket teas – but they taste oh so much better. Plus it is still cheaper than one would pay for a soda or a bottle of water.
For something more exotic, try matcha tea powder
Matcha is a green tea powder popular in Japan. It has a much higher concentration of catechins than regular tea – although the taste is perhaps less suited to a Western palate. Traditional way of making matcha is to whisk it into a frothy hot drink in a round ceramic bowl. If the idea of a tea ceremony does not excite you, you can also get cooking grade matcha powder, for sprinkling on foods. It works well in desserts, cakes and ice creams.
You can also take it as a supplement
A cheaper and easier alternative to drinking green tea is to take a supplement. The key beneficial extract normally used for supplements is epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). You can either get it on its own as an isolated supplement, or as part of a compound supplement with other vitamins and nutrients.
Our multivitamin formula for low-carb dieters includes green tea extract
Nutri-Align multivitamin formula for low-carb dieters contains 120mg of green tea extract (as EGCG), in addition to 22 other vitamins and minerals designed to support low-carb diets.
[i] Forester SC, Gu Y, Lambert JD. Inhibition of starch digestion by the green tea polyphenol, (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2012 Nov;56(11):1647-54.
[ii] A.L. Brown, et.al. Effects of Dietary Supplementation With The Green Tea Polyphenol Epigallocatechin-3-Gallate on Insulin Resistance And Associated Metabolic Risk Factors: Randomized Controlled Trial. Br J Nutr. 2009 March.
[iii] Dulloo AG, Duret C, Rohrer D, Girardier L, Mensi N, Fathi M, Chantre P, Vandermander J. Efficacy of a green tea extract rich in catechin polyphenols and caffeine in increasing 24-h energy expenditure and fat oxidation in humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999 Dec;70(6):1040-5.
[iv] Maki KC, Reeves MS, Farmer M, Yasunaga K, Matsuo N, Katsuragi Y, Komikado M, Tokimitsu I, Wilder D, Jones F, Blumberg JB, Cartwright Y. Green tea catechin consumption enhances exercise-induced abdominal fat loss in overweight and obese adults. J Nutr. 2009 Feb;139(2):264-70.
[v] Boschmann M, Thielecke F. The effects of epigallocatechin-3-gallate on thermogenesis and fat oxidation in obese men: a pilot study. J Am Coll Nutr. 2007;26(4):389S-395S.
[vi] Brown AL, Lane J, Holyoak C, Nicol B, Mayes AE, Dadd T. Health effects of green tea catechins in overweight and obese men: a randomised controlled cross-over trial. Br J Nutr. 2011 Jun 7:1-10.
[vii] Julija Josic, et al. Does Green Tea Affect Postprandial Glucose, Insulin and Satiety in Healthy Subjects: A Randomized Controlled Trial; J Nutr. 2010 Nov.