February 03, 2021
Besides exercise, reevaluating one’s diet is an important step in weight loss. Reducing oily foods and sweets are a start but what if there was something that could be added to shed pounds? Would adding matcha to your diet help in weight loss?
While most other varieties of tea only steep the leaves in hot water, matcha is made by stone grinding the entire green tea leaf. Matcha contains a type of antioxidant called “catechins” (specifically, it mostly has epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), epicatechin gallate (ECG), epigallocatechin (EGC), epicatechin (EC), and catechin (C). We won’t be testing you on these later, so don’t worry). Other types of teas contain catechins but matcha has the highest amount. Antioxidants are well-known to fight cancer causing free radicals in the body but what effect do they have on weight loss? Scientists think that the catechins in green tea can help lower blood sugar levels and maybe even have an anti-diabetic effect.1 Stated simply, catechins are thought to slow the digestion of and decrease the absorption of starch in the bloodstream. Nutrients that aren’t absorbed into the body pass through it as waste. For people trying to lose weight, reducing one’s carb intake can be very beneficial.
Another potential benefit of the catechins in matcha are their ability to increase one’s metabolism. Catechins encourages cells to burn more of their fat reserves (through a process called “thermogenesis”) by preventing the breakdown of the hormone norepinephrine. Norepinephrine is like adrenaline; it increases your heart rate and signals your body to use more calories. Once your body uses all the readily available sources of energy, it will have to start using what it had stored in its fat reserves. Just increasing your metabolism can help in weight loss but what about norepinephrine? Would increasing norepinephrine increase the potential weight you could lose? Matcha can help retain the norepinephrine in your bloodstream but you still have to make the norepinephrine yourself. A great way to do that is through exercise.2 Exercise sparks a release of norepinephrine and the catechins from matcha help keep it in your blood longer which could potentially increase the amount of calories used; it seems almost too good to be true. Just how effective is the combination of matcha and exercise on weight loss?
In addition to catechins, matcha contains a fair amount of caffeine. An 8-ounce cup made with a teaspoon of matcha has about 70 mg of caffeine, which is significantly less than a cup of coffee (for comparison, coffee contains about 90 to 200 mg of caffeine, depending on how it's roasted and prepared). Consuming caffeine in general is thought to promote the reduction of body fat3 through thermogenesis.
Will drinking matcha help me lose weight? Will matcha and exercise help me lose more weight than exercise alone? The answer to both of these questions is a big maybe. The studies4 referenced in this article found that drinking green tea had at least a small effect weight loss and weight management. However, the effect was not consistent for everyone. Factors like ethnicity are thought to play a role in how catechins are used by the body which could affect weight loss outcomes.5 Also, populations that generally consume more caffeinated beverages (North American and European) may have developed a caffeine tolerance which could affect how green tea works in the body. The type of green tea used, the growing area, the harvesting method, processing and even the tea preparation all have the potential to influence the amount of catechins contained in the drink which makes it hard to measure its effects. Unfortunately, there isn’t much research concerning the level of catechins in teas so the jury is out on just who has the best quality/highest catechin containing tea (though in our heavily biased opinion, Japanese matcha is the best). As a side note, we did find that catechins, specifically EGCG, are sensitive to air and will rapidly degrade when exposed to oxygen. 6 Therefore, to get the maximum benefits from matcha, it is key to properly store matcha and use as fresh a product as possible (but don’t worry about that, since 3 Leaf buys directly from matcha farms in Japan, our tea is as fresh as it gets).
From what we can find, drinking matcha may help in weight loss. Many scientists seem to think as much. However, there are many variables that influence its effectiveness, too many for us to give a definite answer one way or the other. Still, the science backing the benefits of matcha do exist, so why not try adding matcha to your diet? Besides a possible weight loss boost, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals contained in matcha all support a strong, healthy body. While matcha might not be the pound-melting magic drink of your dreams, it could help. If nothing else, it’s a delicious and healthy reward for taking a step towards a more vibrant you!
1 Lochocka, Klaudia et al. “Green tea extract decreases starch digestion and absorption from a test meal in humans: a randomized, placebo-controlled crossover study.” Scientific reports vol. 5 12015. 30 Jul. 2015, doi:10.1038/srep12015
2 Jeffrey S. Greiwe, Robert C. Hickner, Suresh D. Shah, Philip E. Cryer, and John O. Holloszy 01 FEB 1999https://doi.org/10.1152/jappl.1922.214.171.1241
3 Tabrizi R, Saneei P, Lankarani KB, Akbari M, Kolahdooz F, Esmaillzadeh A, Nadi-Ravandi S, Mazoochi M, Asemi Z. The effects of caffeine intake on weight loss: a systematic review and dos-response meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2019;59(16):2688-2696. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2018.1507996. Epub 2018 Oct 18. PMID: 30335479.
4 Vázquez Cisneros LC, López-Uriarte P, López-Espinoza A, Navarro Meza M, Espinoza-Gallardo AC, Guzmán Aburto MB. Efectos del té verde y su contenido de galato de epigalocatequina (EGCG) sobre el peso corporal y la masa grasa en humanos. Una revisión sistemática [Effects of green tea and its epigallocatechin (EGCG) content on body weight and fat mass in humans: a systematic review]. Nutr Hosp. 2017 Jun 5;34(3):731-737. Spanish. doi: 10.20960/nh.753. PMID: 28627214.
Lochocka, Klaudia et al. “Green tea extract decreases starch digestion and absorption from a test meal in humans: a randomized, placebo-controlled crossover study.” Scientific reports vol. 5 12015. 30 Jul. 2015, doi:10.1038/srep12015 role in how catechins are used by the body.
Hursel R, Viechtbauer W, Westerterp-Plantenga MS. The effects of green tea on weight loss and weight maintenance: a meta-analysis. Int J Obes (Lond). 2009 Sep;33(9):956-61. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2009.135. Epub 2009 Jul 14. PMID: 19597519.