With the number of people in the gym ever increasing, treadmills smoking and the sight of people crunching widespread, the question burning everybody’s’ lips, does that magic supplement exist? A powder or capsule that can torch fat naturally?
Name: Brandon Tiller
Year of Study: 2nd Year
There are whispers in the corners of gyms, telling you this and that, those sceptics laughing the idea off, and those who sink down every supplement thrust upon them with the hope it is the one. I’m sure you’ve heard of green tea extract amongst those whispers, but is the cousin of Britain’s famous brew really a heavyweight in the fat burning industry?
The Fundamentals of Fat Loss
Lets begin right at the foundation. Every time we chow down on that man-sized, muscle fuelling, umpteenth meal of the day, desperate to squeeze as much muscle-building potential out of our bodies as possible, excess calories eaten in the form of fats and carbohydrates are no use to the body and are packed together and then stored for a later date as triglycerides, or fatty acids within fat cells, and to some degree liver and muscle cells, a process known simply as lipogenesis.
Being the automated machine it is, our body thinks this is ideal, however, in the eyes of a fitness enthusiast, this is disastrous. These fatty acids have a very high energy yield (9kcal/g) compared to that of carbohydrates (4kcal/g) and are therefore retained and stored with more abundance than glycogen.
The Process of Fat Burning
Fat-burning itself is achievable in one of two ways, increasing the bodies metabolic rate, the breakdown and use of fatty acids as an energy source or raising the activity of enzymes that act on fat cells to maximise the availability of these fatty acids.
In the case of fatty acid breakdown, a process known as β-oxidation occurs, in which the triglycerides are catabolised (broken down) back into fats and carbohydrates to be burnt as energy. Much like shovelling coal into the furnace of a steam train to keep everything moving. Not to worry though, that dreaded C word, synonymous with muscle building, is positive in this case, and completely unrelated to muscle catabolism.
Now this all sounds a little bit tricky, when ideally, all we are concerned with is walking down that beach with a six pack so chiselled you could grate a block of cheddar on it.
The Key to a Sculptured Physique
That is where green tea may potentially be the Holy Grail, the key to a sculptured physique. How is it that a plant can be related to such a complex mechanism though? And does it have a significant effect? Well, once the kettle has boiled and the bag is brewing, catechins (natural chemicals present within the leaves) are extracted into the water and it is these small compounds that can make such a big difference!
The noted catechin in green tea is called Epigallocatechin gallate; we’ll call it EGCG for short to save a mouthful. And studies with this have been conducted to define fat-burning fact with fiction. Different doses of EGCG and a placebo were given to active men to identify whether or not it has the ability to increase β-oxidation of fatty acids and assist in fat-burning.
Across all studies, it was conclusive that supplementing with EGCG did in fact aid fat burning across the board.
Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG)
Reasons for this are not yet set in stone, but are proposed to be down to one, or a combination of these three ideas. EGCGs ability to increase fatty acid breakdown, decrease fat cell production or reduce fat absorption in the small intestine, not too bad for something you can sip on and enjoy whilst you relax and read this article.
Surprisingly, lower doses of EGCG (300mg/day) were more beneficial than higher doses (600mg/day), increasing β-oxidation by up to 33%, compared to 20% respectively within two hours of meal consumption.
However, the exact level of EGCG in a single cup of green tea is not definitive, which is why many sports supplement manufacturers have developed their very own ‘Green tea extract powder’, an accurately dosed powder that provides the ideal amount of EGCG as well as high levels of additional antioxidants that have a host of other health benefits!
It must be noted though that the greatest effects were seen whilst the EGCG was supplemented with 200mg of caffeine, a stimulant of the nervous system that controls the release of adrenaline into the blood stream, hormones that act to mobilize fatty acids and, of course, give you crazy levels of drive and intensity whilst busting your guts in the iron clad dungeon.
Increases of up to 50% were reported, so why not combine Green tea extract powder with Caffeine for the best possible benefits.
As it stands, there may be truth behind those whispers after all. Green tea extract alone will not build the lean body of Adonis; intense and smart training coupled with a calorific deficit will be the main factor.
But, like Rome, a ripped body is not built in a day, who’s to say the Romans didn’t use all the help they could get?
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