Green tea, like coffee, is one of the most popular drinks in the world — with a whopping 25,000 cups consumed every single second. Its long list of benefits have earned green tea the title of superfood, and as a personal trainer, you would find that many of your clients might be drinking it for its slimming and fat-burning properties. That said, let’s take a look at the different products out there, what the science says (and what it doesn’t), and finally, how you can advise your clients on green tea and fitness.
Different Types of Green Tea Products
Green tea comes in different forms, shapes, and sizes. The recent and ongoing matcha craze has made green tea more appealing even to non-tea drinkers. Instagram is filled with matcha-themed desserts, not just in Asia but all over the world. You can also find green tea-flavored ice cream, smoothies, and even baked goods.
Of course, there is the traditional way of consuming it through loose green tea leaves or tea bags. It can also be found as a supplement ingredient in other health foods, like green coffee. Pretty Me’s review of Lean ’n Green coffee lists green tea as a key component of the slimming beverage. It’s touted for its various health benefits, such as its high antioxidant content and how it aids in metabolism.
Given all of its purported health benefits, there are some who wish to consume green tea in concentrated forms. Extracts, capsules, and various green tea-based supplements are available in stores specializing in superfoods and other popular healthy ingredients.
What the Science Says (And Doesn’t Say) About Green Tea
The obsession with green tea grew from valid health concerns. It’s a staple ingredient in Chinese medicine used to heal the vital organs, prevent ailments, and improve cognitive function. In the West, it’s more commonly used as a weight-loss aid. Earlier studies claim that the chemicals in green tea, specifically catechins, burn fat and speed up metabolism. Some studies even claim that catechins can increase blood flow, which has ergogenic benefits. Better circulation can result in optimal physical performance, but existing research is inconclusive.
There’s nothing wrong with having green tea regularly, but experts are warning against excessive consumption of the superfood. Harvard Medical School’s Dr. Sesso explains that too much can be harmful to the kidneys, and that popular products have limited evidence of safety. This is especially true for concentrated amounts of green tea found in extracts and supplements. Consuming green tea in different forms might also mean adding too many unnecessary ingredients into your diet, such as sugar — thus negating the positive effects of the substance.
Green Tea and Your Client’s Fitness Goals
Though green tea has become a staple in many people’s routines, the science regarding its health claims is, unfortunately, unsound. What might be helping people achieve their fitness goal by drinking green tea is its caffeine content. And we’ve learned from a previous NFPT Live episode on caffeine that it’s a natural appetite suppressant. They might just be reducing their total caloric consumption instead of burning more fat as green tea claims would have one believe. Green tea can help with achieving quick weight loss goals, but it will not be a sustainable workout supplement in the long term.
That doesn’t mean green tea doesn’t have its place in your client’s wellness routine, though! A Nature study explains that drinking tea lowers cortisol levels, or the stress hormone, which has negative consequences on one’s overall fitness. If you were to recommend green tea to a client, it should be as a stress-reducing beverage, and not as a weight loss aid. That should help them set more realistic goals without taking shortcuts, and cultivate a more positive attitude towards health and fitness.
Jillian Allen is a health and wellness blogger and nutritionist in training. Growing up in an active family, she has always been interested in nutrition, fitness, and other components of a holistically healthy life. Now, she wants to help others bring balance to their own lives and enjoy without compromising their well-being.