Can matcha help you lose weight?
The answer is a little more complicated than a simple yes or no, but there is some evidence to suggest that your healthy diet could be aided by this powerful green powder.
What is matcha? Matcha is a finely ground powder made from green tea leaves. Unlike normal green tea which is made from leaves which are dried, chopped and steeped in hot water, matcha contains the entire tea leaves in order to deliver a greater dose of nutrients. Plus, green tea plants cultivated specifically for matcha are grown in the shade which allows the leaves to develop a bright green hue and more intense flavour.
People have been drinking matcha for centuries in Japan and China, but it is only in recent years that the beverage has soared in popularity in the West, mostly for its purported health benefits. Traditionally it is made by whisking a small amount of matcha powder - about half a teaspoon - with hot water using a bamboo whisk, creating a frothy consistency that could be compared with a latte.
However, these days matcha is more than just a hot drink - it can be found in a huge range of food items, beauty and skincare products, and nutritional supplements.
What are the health benefits of matcha?
Buddhist monks have long been drinking matcha for its supposed ability to boost mental alertness. It isn't clear why matcha seems to have this effect, but it could be because it contains a good dose of caffeine which gives us a potent energy boost and helps us to feel more awake.
Many people prefer the energising effects of matcha over coffee because green tea is rich in antioxidants and they find it doesn't give that jittery feeling that coffee often does. Although caffeine does not directly lead to weight loss, in theory, the caffeine in matcha could help you to feel more energetic during exercise so that you workout harder and burn more calories.
Matcha is also thought to improve metabolism, which is where it could really aid with weight loss. It contains a compound called EGCG, which is an antioxidant proven to boost metabolism and help to burn fat. There is also evidence that EGCG impacts the production of leptin, a hormone that occurs naturally in our bodies and controls hunger.
It is thought that matcha could help to reduce appetite, which in turn might lead to reduced food intake and subsequent weight loss.
Will matcha really help me lose weight?
A 2005 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that participants who drank high quantities of catechins - a major component of matcha - on a daily basis for 12 weeks saw twice as much weight loss as participants who didn't.
However, there is still more research to do be done to understand exactly how much matcha is required to optimise weight loss. It is also worth mentioning that other teas which contain catechins could have similar effects.
Another study, this time conducted in 2012 and published in the Journal of Functional Foods, found that catechin-enriched green tea lead to a higher proportion of visceral fat loss. Visceral fat is found inside our bodies surrounding our internal organs, and it is this type of fat which increases the risk of serious health conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Drinking matcha could therefore help you to lose fat from the most dangerous areas when you're following a weight loss program. While there is no definitive understanding of why matcha might aid weight loss, the health benefits outlined above give something of an explanation.
If matcha can make you feel more energetic, you're likely to feel inclined to exercise more often or more energetically, thus burning more calories. If it controls hunger, it can help to minimise food cravings and make it easier for you to stick to a healthy, calorie-controlled diet.
Plus, if matcha helps to boost the metabolism, you may find that you lose weight a little more quickly and efficiently when adhering to an exercise regime and diet designed for fat loss. That doesn't mean to say that matcha is a miracle supplement that will lead to easy weight loss. In order to lose weight, you have to be more active and watch what you eat.
There is no supplement that could possibly change that. However, if you're adopting a healthier lifestyle and aiming for weight loss, matcha might help your efforts.
Do I have to drink matcha to enjoy its health benefits?
Although traditionally matcha is whisked with hot water to make a warm drink, it does have a rather potent flavour that not everybody is fond of. To disguise the taste you could use hot milk instead of water and add spices and a sweetener such as agave or honey to mask the matcha taste.
Alternatively, you could add it to smoothies, oatmeal, pancake batter, yoghurt... the sky's the limit. Just remember that even though matcha may help you to burn fat, it doesn't mean that adding it to sugar- or fat-laden treats will make them healthy or offset all those calories! If the taste of matcha really isn't for you, you could incorporate it into your life by the way of supplements instead.
Our Matcha Green Tea Gummies are flavoured with mango which makes them a really yummy way to get that wonderful matcha boost with no fuss or hassle. They also contain spirulina and spinach, both of which help to support an active lifestyle. If you're trying to lose some weight and want to maximise the benefits of your healthy diet and exercise regime, matcha gummies are the ideal supplement for you.