What if we told you we'd discovered the most effective weight-loss tool in the world—a weapon that works for everyone, costs just pennies a day, is available at any grocery store, requires no sweat or stress, and can be done at home, at work, or anywhere it's convenient.
Hold your applause: That secret tool is green tea—a humble drink that's been cherished as a health miracle for centuries, but one that science is finally coalescing around. Literally hundreds of studies have been carried out to document the health benefits of catechins, the group of antioxidants concentrated in the leaves of tea plants. And the most powerful of all catechins, a compound called epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, is found almost exclusively in green tea.
When Jeannine Arenas of Miami, Florida used tea as her weight-loss weapon, she lost 9 pounds in 7 days. "I loved the results!" she told us. Tracy Durst dropped from a size 20 to a size 16 in just one week. "I'm alive with energy!" she says. And in a study in The Journal of Nutrition, those who sipped green tea for 17 days had less belly fat and smaller waistlines than those who did not. Plus, when Taiwanese researchers studied more than 1,100 people over a 10-year period, they determined that those who drank green tea had nearly 20 percent less body fat than those who drank none!
How can you make this high-powered metabolism-booster work for you? Here are 23 fat-melting secrets and strategies, compliments of the extraordinary research revealed in The 17-Day Green Tea Diet.
DRINK IT FOR BREAKFAST
Your body absorbs the nutrients in green tea most effectively when you drink it at least four hours after your last meal, making it a perfect breakfast every morning. Another reason why it should be your a.m. go-to: Researchers studied the coffee habits of New Yorkers and discovered that two-thirds of Starbucks customers opted for blended coffee drinks over regular brewed coffee or tea. The average caloric impact of the blended drinks was 239 calories. Switch to tea just once a day and you'd lose 25 pounds this year!
ADD A SPLASH OF LEMON
When you sip tea, a significant percentage of the polyphenol antioxidants break down before they reach your bloodstream. But researchers at Purdue University discovered that adding lemon juice to the equation helped preserve the polyphenols.
MAKE IT YOUR POST-WORKOUT DRINK
Brazilian scientists found that participants who consumed three cups of the beverage every day for a week had fewer markers of the cell damage caused by resistance to exercise. That means that green tea can also help you recover faster after a workout, like the high-intensity workout in The 17-Day Green Tea Diet. In another study—this one on people—participants who combined a daily habit of four to five cups of green tea each day with a 25-minute workout for 12 weeks lost an average of two more pounds than the non-tea-drinking exercisers.
PAIR IT WITH SUSHI
Omega-3 fatty acids from fish further help enhance the efficacy of EGCG. And Purdue University researchers found that drinking tea with dinner may block the absorption of any toxins in your meal—for example, mercury in fish.
USE IT AS A BASE FOR SMOOTHIES
A green tea smoothie was part of Margaret McGraw's weight-loss strategy. "I wasn't really convinced it would work, but I lost 5 pounds in my first week!" she says. And the health benefits are pretty amazing, too: According to a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine, people who consumed 120 milliliters of tea every day for at least a year had a 46 percent lower risk of developing hypertension than those who consumed less. To maximize your intake, use green tea in place of other liquids in smoothies, like this untraditional but tasty creation from The 17-Day Green Tea Diet.
The Green Goddess
¼ avocado, peeled and pitted
1 ripe banana
1 tablespoon honey
½ cup green tea
1 scoop protein powder
½ cup ice
Optional: 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
UPGRADE TO MATCHA
The concentration of EGCG—the superpotent nutrient found in green tea—may be as much as 137 times greater in powdered matcha tea. EGCG can simultaneously boost lipolysis (the breakdown of fat) and block adipogenesis (the formation of new fat cells). One study found that men who drank green tea containing 136 milligrams of EGCG—what you'd find in a single 4-gram serving of matcha—lost twice as much weight than a placebo group and four times as much belly fat over the course of three months.
MAKE A FAT-MELTING DRESSING
A study in Nutrition Journal found that those who ate monounsaturated fats at lunch reported a 40 percent decreased desire to eat for hours afterward. To add the power of green tea's catechins on top, steep tea bags in oils (or vinegars) to create richly flavored salad dressings.
COOK QUINOA IN IT
The more tea you consume, the better: Those who drink the most green tea are less likely to die of any cause than those who drink none, according to an 11-year study. To maximize your intake, use tea instead of water when making rice, quinoa, even oatmeal.
WHIP UP A METABOLISM SNACK
In combination with the four Green Superfoods outlined in the The 17-Day Green Tea Diet, green tea has been shown to cause dramatic, long-term losses in belly fat in just two weeks. And after 24 weeks, those who followed the plan experienced a 62 percent greater decrease in weight than standard dieters, according to the journal Nature. Here's a traditional Japanese snack called ochazuke that combines the power of these various ingredients:
1 cup cooked or leftover white rice
1 cup green tea
4 rice crackers, broken into small pieces
½ cup flaked wild salmon (leftover, or from a packet)
½ cup dried seaweed
Juice of ½ lime
Place the rice in a bowl. Pour the hot tea over it. Top with crackers, salmon, seaweed, lime juice, and soy sauce.
BAKE IT OFF
Green tea seems to have the ability to reverse age-related osteoporosis, according to a study in Nature Medicine. To get even more of the good stuff, add powdered tea to doughs or batters—it's great in everything from cakes and cookies to pancakes and muffins.
TAKE IT TO YOUR BARBECUE
Chemicals in tea appear to protect your skin from sun-induced aging, according to a study from Case Western Reserve University. And EGCG, one of the active ingredients in green tea, does something to damage the mitochondria of cancer cells, according to a study at Penn State. That makes it a potent protector when you're out in the sun. At your next barbecue, chop green tea and mix it with salt and pepper for a smoky, high-potency rub.
SWAP IT FOR 'VITAMIN WATERS
In one of the greatest feats of marketing ever, Vitaminwater produces products that sound a lot like health drinks but are nothing more than straight-up sugar. Its Power-C Dragonfruit flavored water has 120 calories and 31 grams of sugar—that's the equivalent of drinking 13 Jolly Ranchers. You would lose more than a pound a month just by having a cup of tea each day instead.
BREW YOUR OWN
Store-bought bottled teas typically lose 20 percent of EGCG/catechin content during the bottling process, which is why brewing your own is so critical. And that's before you consider the added sugar: Snapple's All Natural Green Tea packs 30 grams of sugar, more than a Snicker's bar. And SoBe tea contains 240 calories and 61 grams of sugar—that's the sugar equivalent of four slices of Sara Lee Cherry Pie.
CONSIDER LOOSE LEAVES
A report by ConsumerLab.com, an independent site that tests health products, found that green tea brewed from loose tea leaves yielded the highest levels of EGCG.
TRY GOING PU-ERH
Pu-erh is a type of green tea that's fermented and comes in little green balls that look a bit more like contraband you'd buy at a Phish show than like typical tea. Animal studies have shown that pu-erh decreases fat storage and helps regulate blood sugar levels. Among humans, it's been shown to have anti-cancer properties. And in China, pu-erh is considered a traditional hangover remedy.
PREGAME YOUR NEXT PARTY
A study published in the journal Biological Chemistry showed that green tea protected the liver from some of the oxidative stress brought on by alcohol.
DITCH THE DAIRY
A study in the European Heart Journal found that while tea can improve blood flow and blood-vessel dilation (and thereby lower your blood pressure), adding milk to the tea counteracts these effects.
PROTECT YOUR HEART
Polyphenols in green tea block a "signaling molecule" called VEGF, which can trigger both heart disease and cancer, found a 2015 study from the Institute of Food Research.
KEEP IT COOL
Those with the highest levels of folate in their bloodstreams lose 8.5 times more weight when dieting, according to the British Journal of Nutrition. To preserve folate and EGCG levels, store tea in a cool, dry place, preferably in a sealed plastic bag to reduce exposure to air, sunlight, and moisture.
PAIR IT WITH PROTEIN
A diet high in protein increases your blood levels of EGCG, the metabolism-boosting catechin found in green tea, while stimulating the release of ghrelin, the "I'm full" hormone, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
CRACK SOME PEPPER
A compound in black pepper called piperine may help improve blood levels of EGCG by allowing it to linger in the digesting system longer–meaning that more of it is absorbed by the body.
USE IT TO CRUSH A COLD
EGCG has been shown to stop the adenovirus (one of the bugs responsible for colds) from replicating. Start pumping green tea into your system at the first sign of a cold and you should be able to stave off worse symptoms so you can keep your diet and workout schedule on track.
FILTER YOUR WATER
Concentrated levels of certain minerals in water can interfere with the absorption of EGCG, the powerful ingredient in green tea. If you have hard water, consider using a water filter to brew your tea.
LOSE UP TO 14 POUNDS—FROM YOUR BELLY FIRST!
All it takes is a humble bag of tea. Find out how in THE 17-DAY GREEN TEA DIET, developed by the bestselling authors of Eat This, Not That!