Current interest in the role of functional foods in weight control has focused on plant ingredients capable of interfering with the sympathoadrenal system.
We investigated whether a green tea extract, by virtue of its high content of caffeine and catechin polyphenols, could increase 24-h energy expenditure (EE) and fat oxidation in humans.
Twenty-four-hour EE, the respiratory quotient (RQ), and the urinary excretion of nitrogen and catecholamines were measured in a respiratory chamber in 10 healthy men. On 3 separate occasions, subjects were randomly assigned among 3 treatments: green tea extract (50 mg caffeine and 90 mg epigallocatechin gallate), caffeine (50 mg), and placebo, which they ingested at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Relative to placebo, treatment with the green tea extract resulted in a significant increase in 24-h EE (4%; P < 0.01) and a significant decrease in 24-h RQ (from 0.88 to 0.85; P < 0.001) without any change in urinary nitrogen. Twenty-four-hour urinary norepinephrine excretion was higher during treatment with the green tea extract than with the placebo (40%, P < 0.05). Treatment with caffeine in amounts equivalent to those found in the green tea extract had no effect on EE and RQ nor on urinary nitrogen or catecholamines.
Green tea has thermogenic properties and promotes fat oxidation beyond that explained by its caffeine content per se. The green tea extract may play a role in the control of body composition via sympathetic activation of thermogenesis, fat oxidation, or both.