If you want to lose weight, decaffeinated green tea can help. The fat-burning antioxidants in green tea work independently of caffeine, so you don't need the stimulant to enjoy green tea's slimming effects. But the process that removes caffeine from green tea leaves also removes more than half its antioxidants. Decaffeinated green tea provides a softer rev to your metabolism than the caffeinated original.
Fat-Burning Properties in Green Tea
The calorie-burning properties in green tea are called catechins. If you're reading product labels, you might also see catechins referred to as epigallocatechin gallate, EGCG or flavonoids. The latter could be misleading — all catechins are flavonoids but not all flavonoids are catechins. If you drink green tea purely for its taste — more delicate than the black tea more commonly consumed in the United States and Britain, such technicalities mean little. But if your aim is weight, loss, every catechin counts, according to a report posted by the USDA.
A cup of brewed, loose leaf green tea contains an average of 127mg of catechins, according to a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Brewed decaffeinated tea contains 56mg. Cup per cup, you'd be getting about half as many catechins in brewed decaffeinated tea. You could drink twice as much tea or settle for half of the benefits. If you drink bottled decaffeinated green tea, you would get only 12mg of catechins per serving, according to the USDA. You would need to drink 4.6 cups of bottled tea to obtain the catechins in a single cup of brewed decaffeinated tea or 10 cups to achieve the benefits of brewed caffeinated tea.
Green Tea Compared to Exercise for Weight Loss
Drinking 12 cups of decaffeinated green tea daily — 72 oz. as the USDA measures tea in 6 oz. cups — would burn about as many calories as taking a leisurely 30-minute stroll. You could lose about a pound every four weeks drinking 12 cups of decaffeinated green tea if your results matched those in a clinical study conducted by Kevin Maki, a U.S. researcher who tested the differences between drinking green and black tea for weight loss.
Green Tea Burns Abdominal Fat
According to Maki's study, men who consumed 660mg of catechins — the amount in 12 cups of decaffeinated green tea — lost 5.4 lbs. in 12 weeks compared to men who drank black tea containing 22mg of catechins. Because the men also reduced the caloric intake, the weight loss attributable strictly to green tea consumption would be 2.5 lbs. -– a quarter pound per week. In Maki's study, published in 2009 in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition," green tea catechins proved especially effective in burning abdominal fat.
Decaffeinated Green Tea a Safe Choice
The only documented side effects from consuming green tea are related to its caffeine content, so decaffeinated green tea should be safe for most people. The metabolism-boosting effects of green tea catechins could augment a calorie-restricted diet. If you eliminate 500 calories from your daily food and beverage intake, you could expect to lose four pounds in a month. Green tea could boost the total to five pounds. If drinking 12 cups a day seems too difficult, the long-term effects of drinking smaller amounts would add up. Drinking two cups a daily could net a 2 lb. weight loss in a year.