Jan 29, 2015
Making Tea a Habit

Green tea is a healthy beverage and has been used in traditional Chinese medicine since ancient times. Black tea has also been found to have healthy effects. In fact, tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world behind water.

By Heather Barnhill & Dr. Christopher Mohr

Heather Barnhill, MS, is a freelance writer and editor in the health and fitness field. Christopher Mohr, PhD, RD, is the owner of Louisville, Ky.-based Mohr Results, Inc., which provides nutrition and training consultations for individuals and corporations. He can be reached through his Web site: www.MohrResults.com.

Although health benefits have been attributed to tea consumption for centuries, scientific investigations on this beverage and its health benefits have been underway for less than 30 years. One area in particular that has sparked interest is tea’s potential to promote weight loss by enhancing thermogenesis, decreasing intestinal glucose and lipid absorption, and increasing 24-hour energy expenditure. Tea extracts may also enhance lipolysis in fat tissue and inhibit fat activity.

A cross-sectional survey of 1210 epidemiologically sampled adults (569 men and 641 women) was studied to determine a relationship between habitual tea consumption, percent body fat, and body fat distribution. Due to natural attrition rates, 1103 subjects were analyzed, of which 42 percent were considered habitual tea drinkers, meaning they consumed (green and/or black) tea once or more per week for at least six months. Of the 473 subjects who were considered habitual tea drinkers, 455 drank green or oolong tea while 18 drank black tea. None of the subjects were dieting or following any course of weight control during the study.

The researchers found that habitual tea drinkers had a lower body fat percentage (BF) and a smaller waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) than the nonhabitual ones. They also found that those who had maintained their tea consumption habit for longer than 10 years had a reduction of 19.6 percent BF and 2.1 percent WHR compared to nonhabitual drinkers.

While more studies need to be conducted on the use of tea as a weight loss agent, the health benefits make it a worthwhile beverage to consume. Especially green tea is considered to be anticarcinogenic and has been associated with a reduced cardiovascular disease risk. If in fact it does play a role with weight loss and, more specifically, fat loss, this can clearly carry over to enhanced performance of athletes, so tea consumption should be encouraged.

It’s also important to point out that the recent “Beverage Guidelines,” published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, suggest that tea can enhance hydration status. The worldwide tradition of drinking tea seems to be one that athletes should partake in.

Study Specs: “Relationship Among Habitual Tea Consumption, Percent Body Fat, and Body Fat Distribution,” was published in the September 2003 issue of Obesity, and authored by C. Wu, F. Lu, C. Chang, T. Chang, and R. Wang. The journal can be found at: www.obesityresearch.org.

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