Have your carbs and lose weight too

Have your carbs and lose weight too:

Why green tea extract is a must-have in your weight loss arsenal

 By Roni Enten Vissoker

It takes serious stamina to stick to a low carb diet for the long haul. But now, the results of a recent study may help soften the burden of lowering your intake of carbohydrate-rich foods. According to researchers, the extract of a plant used to prepare a widely consumed beverage may impart an effect similar to that of cutting out carbs, without having to banish your favorite starches from your diet.

This recent clinical trial found that a single dose of green tea extract can actually block the digestion and absorption of starches in your intestinal tract, essentially limiting the amount of carbs your body will absorb after a starch-laden meal.

In the study, published in Scientific Reports, researchers fed 28 adults of normal weight and good health, a meal of cornflakes (a rich source of processed starch) with milk.  They gave half the participants four grams of green tea extract (providing 257 mg of Epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG, the most active and abundant plant chemical in green tea) and the other half of the group, a non-active placebo. They then collected breath samples every 30 minutes for four hours after the meal from each participant, in order to measure unabsorbed starch and reversed the groups a week later, repeating the protocol.

In the majority of the subjects (78.6%), the carbohydrate-blocking effect of the green tea extract lasted until the end of the four hours, and the percentage of starch recovered was significantly different between the groups – with levels much lower in the green tea extract group than the placebo group – 11.4 versus 16.1%. In essence, the green tea extract, roughly equivalent to three cups of home-brewed green tea, blocked much of the cornflake starch from being digested and absorbed.

But these findings are not entirely new; in fact, previous trials have repeatedly supported the positive effect of green tea on weight loss, showing reduced fat cell production and fat absorption, and support for overall weight loss. A 2009 meta-analysis of 11 gold standard clinical trials showed that a green tea EGCG and caffeine mixture caused a significant, positive effect on weight loss and weight loss maintenance.

In addition, a 2006 study of healthy volunteers found a blend of black, green and mulberry teas slashed carbohydrate absorption by 25% (equal to about 60 calories) compared to the placebo group, though the significance of the results were less clear due to the use of multiple kinds of tea and a rice-based meal, rather than a pure starch meal.

Researchers think it’s possible green tea extract blocks carbohydrate digestion and absorption by inhibiting the enzyme, alpha amylase, found in both the saliva and in pancreatic juices. It’s also the enzyme that breaks down large molecules of starch into smaller sugars, which are then broken down into glucose and absorbed by the body. Because of this, green tea extract is also a solid choice for those looking to support the maintenance of blood sugar in a healthy range.

This study demonstrates just a single dose of green tea extract clearly works to inhibit starch digestion and absorption and that is certainly great news for those watching their weight. While more research is needed on optimal dosing and mechanism, since green tea is safe for use and widely available, supplementation is an easy way to positively affect your sugar balance and even help blast away some extra fat.

Jarrow Formulas’ Green Tea Extract offers a 500 mg capsule which contains 50% polyphenols and 30% catechins, of which 15% is EGCG, for those looking to support a healthy weight and healthy metabolism.