Monday, August 8, 2011
The Ultimate Tea Diet
It all started when I was at the library renewing some books for Zach and realized I had some time to kill since both Zach and Elliott were taking naps and would be sleeping for another hour or so. I went over to my favorite section, the cookbooks. That is where I found this book. It should have been in the "diet" or "weight loss" section, but the author does have almost 100 pages of recipes to cook with tea, so I guess it could be considered a cookbook. I started by skimming the first couple chapters, but found it very interesting and brought it home and read the whole thing. (Ah, I just love the library.) I thought it was really good and, despite the name, it isn't really a diet. He briefly mentions somewhere in the middle of the book about having a lean protein, complex carb, and healthy fats at every meal and he says exercise is good, but just do whatever you can. Rather, his book is about what you can add to how you already eat and live. If you haven't guessed it, the thing you should add to your diet is TEA!
I love it because it's inexpensive and all natural. What is it in tea that helps you lose weight and curb cravings? Tea is made up of 3 ingredients: caffeine, L-theanine, and epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). The EGCG is a great antioxidant that actually stimulates your metabolism. You're actually burning fat as you're sitting there drinking it. (I couldn't resist putting down the book at this point and making myself cup of green tea.) The caffeine stimulates your body to lose weight. It acts as a thermogenic (which is the process in which your body & especially the fat cells, heat up and therefore helps you burn more calories), but unlike over the counter thermogenics like Hydroxycut or Lipo6, it's all natural! Now, caffeine alone is not good for you. Like sugar... and drugs, it can be addictive and it gives you a high and a crash. That's where the wonderful ingredient L-theanine comes in. This ingredient isn't release in our bodies right away. The caffeine hits our brains first and gives us that "wake up jolt". But then the L-theanine is released into our blood systems and stimulates alpha brain waves (which is responsible for putting our bodies in a relaxed and effortless alert state) that cancels out the caffeine. L-theanine content is in 1-2% of the plant and the caffeine content is only 0.5%. The book explains all these 3 ingredients in much more detail, but I'm just summing it up.
One more important thing to note is that the weight loss benefits in tea are from the teas that are made from the plant, Camellia sinensis. From this one plant, green tea, black tea, oolong tea, and white tea. They are all processed and dried a bit differently (which the author explains in more detail), but they contain the "TEA-3"- caffeine, L-theanine, and ECGC. What I didn't know, is that the other drinks labeled as "tea" such as chamomile, peppermint, lemon verbena, etc, are really just herbal blends, aka tisanes. You certainly can drink them all you want as they are all herbs, but those teas just won't have the fat burning effects. Just read the label. For example, there may be two different tea boxes labeled "Vanilla tea." One might list ingredients like spearmint, lemon grass, french vanilla, rosebuds, etc. That is a tisane. The second one would say white tea, spearmint, lemon grass, french vanilla, rosebuds. It has white tea, from the Camellia sinensis plant and therefore has the TEA-3.
The author's "diet" is simple. "Find the tea you like, and drink it all day". Doesn't sound hard. Doesn't add much more to your day than just brewing a big pitcher of tea, keep filling up your water bottle and sip it until bed! If the little bit of caffeine does affect you, and you aren't able to go to bed, he goes on to explain that if you get the loose leaf tea, all you have to do is make one batch and throw it out. You can reuse the leaves for 5-8 more batches, depending how strong you like your tea, but they lose 98% of their caffeine content after the first seeping. I find no problem sleeping after having a cup of green tea before bed so I just get the "pre-bagged" teas at the grocery store. I just started incorporating teas throughout the day for 3 days now so we'll see how it goes in the long run!