It can be hard to imagine your daily morning routine without your regular coffee fix, but swapping out the java for a cup of green tea might actually make you feel better. Here’s why:
1. Green tea has less caffeine
Green tea has less than a quarter of caffeine, compared to the same amount of coffee. This might seem more like a disadvantage than an advantage for some, but consuming less caffeine on a regular basis will actually improve your energy levels in the long haul. How so? Because your body will adapt to consuming less caffeine by becoming more efficient at making energy on its own. Caffeine does a few things to your body: It reduces the need for sleep by blocking the parts of the brain that tell your body that it needs some shut eye. It increases energy levels by encouraging fat metabolism. It also enhances productivity and increases the amount of physical or mental work that you can do before you get tired.
If caffeine has all of these benefits, why would you want to reduce it? The answer is quite simple. Your body will adapt to these effects by lowering its natural energy production. Your body does this in an attempt to restore balance and bring your body back into equilibrium. The more caffeine you consume daily, the less energy your body will produce on its own. This explains why it is so hard for you to wake up in the morning before your first cup of coffee: Your body has learnt to depend on caffeine for energy instead of its own biological processes. Lowering your daily caffeine intake will also reduce the risk of dependence (i.e. not being able to function properly without it).
2. Green tea contains L-theanine
The l-theanine in green tea carries a host of benefits for the brain. It helps to relax you (good-bye anxiety or post-coffee jitters) and increases cognitive function. Most concentration-boosting chemicals increase energy levels, but L-theanine gives you a relaxed form of concentration. This will help you to get more work done before getting stressed out. Theanine will also elevate mood levels and curb depressive emotions because of its calming effects.
The calming, relaxing effects of green tea cause many people to drink up a cup to help them sleep. Personally, I would not recommend this because the hint of caffeine may disrupt natural sleeping patterns. This is due to the fact that caffeine blocks the part of the brain that regulates sleep need. If you feel like you sleep better after consuming caffeine, this might indicate caffeine addiction – insomnia and restlessness are common symptoms of caffeine withdrawal.
3. The detoxing effects of green tea
Green tea helps to clean out your system in a variety of ways. Firstly, the lowered caffeine content stimulates the bowel system so that you can pass bowels – along with the toxins that they might be holding onto. Secondly, green tea (when consumed moderately – less than 4 cups a day) helps to clean out the liver and kidneys. This will help them to get rid of toxins and focus on other important tasks that need to be done like regulating your hormones and controlling blood sugar levels.
Green tea is high in antioxidants. Antioxidants, commonly found in unprocessed plant foods like fruit and vegetables, reduce oxidative stress. They have two main functions. Firstly, they help to detox the body on a cellular level by cleaning out unwanted by-products that can damage cells. Secondly, they help to repair cells. This is why increased antioxidant consumption in very closely associated with better health, increased immunity and the overall reduction of age-related illnesses.
These nutrients are called anti-oxidants because they counter oxidative stress on a cellular level. Oxidative stress increases with negative health activities like smoking, inhaling polluted air, eating processed foods and inactivity (not exercising enough). Oxidation is what causes rust to accumulate within pipes or other metals over time. Antioxidants, like those found in green tea, help to reduce the wear and tear that tends to accumulate in our bodies over time.
4. Green tea can facilitate weight loss
Green tea, when used as part of a healthy eating and exercise program, can help you to lose weight. One of the reasons why green tea increases fat loss is because of its most popular anti-oxidant: Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG for short). EGCG is a popular ingredient in many weight loss products. People who drink green tea before exercise, for example, can burn up to 20% more fat than those who don’t.
While this might only add up to a few extra calories burned throughout the day, but the small tip of the scale in your favor can add up to massive results of repeated regularly. The fact that green tea will also increase your body’s ability to make its own energy, compared to coffee, will also increase fat metabolism over time. Additionally, the antioxidants will improve liver function and therefore improve its ability to turn fat into energy – since this process happens in the liver.
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By reducing caffeine dependency, improving mood, fighting against depression and anxiety, improving cellular health and aiding fat metabolism; green tea might be exactly what you need to give your health that extra boost. I encourage you to give green tea a try for a week or two to experience the results for yourself. Remember to always do everything in moderation and consult your doctor before making any lifestyle changes.
Saguren Redyrs is a personal trainer from South Africa who focuses on how small lifestyle changes can benefit long-term health. You can read more of his articles on his blog SA Spotters. This article does not, in any way, aim to replace of substitute advice given by a medical professional.