Green Tea Diet: Fact and Fiction

As with so many sky-rockets to fame, the Perricone Prescription -- more widely known as the green tea diet -- came to the world's attention a few years ago. Dr. Nicholas Perricone, author of several books, including the Perricone Prescription that detailed the medical research behind the astonishing fat burning properties of green tea and green tea extract.

Dr. Perricone states that substituting coffee with green tea could produce weight loss of 10 pounds in 6 weeks. Incredulous as it sounds, is it really possible to lose weight with green tea alone? According to Dr. Perricone (as well as numerous medical research studies), green tea and green tea extract contain phytonutrients that perform at least 3 functions in the body that promote weight loss.

  1. Green tea regulates glucose and insulin levels. Sharp spikes of insulin signal the body to store fat. As Dr. Perricone puts it, "elevated insulin puts a lock on body fat." Coffee, on the other hand, contains an ingredient that raises blood sugar levels, which in turn, produces elevated levels of insulin. Green tea balances blood sugar itself, preventing the production of excess insulin. "If you do nothing else but substitute coffee with green tea, your insulin levels will drop and you will lose weight," says Dr. Perricone.

  2. Green tea promotes metabolism. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported a medical research study in which metabolism rates rose by 4% in a 24 hour period. A chemical in green tea lifts thermogenic activity in the body (a fancy term for the rate at which your body burns calories). This chemical also raises levels of oxidation of body fat (the burning of fat cells).

  3. Green tea trims appetite. Fat loss of 21% of body weight was observed in laboratory mice in a University of Chicago study. The researchers concluded that the fat loss was due to significant loss of appetite and diminished food intake. While Dr. Perricone has not referred to appetite suppression as a benefit of green tea, a small handful of other studies have also asserted this theory.

Green tea and green tea extract (the extract is simply a concentrated form of the effective ingredients in green tea) boast many other health benefits, which may not directly impact weight loss, but which are excellent tonics and health aids. Green tea has been found to trim cholesterol levels, lower hypertension, prevent certain cancers and preclude or reverse liver impairment.

The green tea diet has captured the hopes of dieters around the world. Dr. Perricone unknowingly unleashed another fad diet waiting to happen. The internet has seen a meteoric rise in green tea weight loss products, similar in intensity to the acai berry diet sensation. Fad diets should be considered with caution, especially when expensive products boasting quick results are being offered. Fad diets can hurt the dieter not only because of their high cost and unfeasible promises, but also by being rough on the body. Rapid weight loss programs and crash diets are generally unstainable (the weight loss will eventually come back) and can put the body into any number of nutritional imbalances that can do the dieter far more damage than good.

The green tea diet is not a weight loss miracle as the green tea weight loss industry would have you believe. Notwithstanding, this in no way diminishes the fact that green tea can be a very helpful addition to your weight loss diet program. Dr. Perricone's advice to substitute coffee with green tea is a good piece of wellness wisdom. His assertion that a green tea diet itself can effect spectacular weight loss is, unfortunately, a disservice to the millions of dieters who are waiting for a magic bullet.

Bottom line: Yes, go get some green tea or green tea extract. Look for low cost bagged tea products or bottled green tea extract ($8 per bottle). Drink or drop your green tea every day. It has relatively low levels of caffeine, so it is safe to drink (diluted) throughout the day. If you are looking to lose weight, don't fall for the idea that the green tea will do it for you. Real, lasting and safe weight loss only results from dietary changes and regular exercises.