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There has, over the last few years, been a lot of interest in green tea not just for its many health benefits, but also its use as a diet aid. Tea is known to have thermogenic properties, which basically means it increases the rate of your metabolism (or increases your body’s temperature). Although this is entirely true, there is not a natural substance around with a strong enough thermogenic effect to single-handedly allow you to lose weight (except maybe fire). The key is knowing HOW TO USE green tea as a diet aid. Keep reading and you’ll see how our (free) green tea diet plan can help you get healthy!
Getting in shape is not just a case of doing a few extra crunches at the gym, it’s not about going “Paleo” or a “slow carb, sugar fast”, and it’s not about cutting back on fast food (though that’s always advisable). The reality is that getting in shape is a combination of all these things and more. It’s not a fad diet; it’s a shift in lifestyle focus. It’s a choice whereby you agree to treat your body how you would like it to treat you. There is nothing you will ever own in your life quite as amazing and finely balanced (and forgiving) as your body, so a little “tlc” will add a lot of life to your years, and the Green Tea Diet Plan is a great place to start.
To answer this we need to take a step back and ask the questions “why any diet plan?” The answer to this is reasonably straight forward, but has some profound implications. Of course, we all want to look and feel better, but an important question is why! If you want to lose weight because of body image issues, you might be well served spending time addressing them. Yes, that sounds spectacularly trite but it IS important. If you lose weight because you aren’t happy with your body, it will never be enough. THERE WILL NEVER BE A POINT WHERE YOU SAY “right, I’m PERFECT”, so learning to see that you are already a perfect version of you will pay dividends. But, you ask, if I am a perfect version of me, why bother with all the trouble of diet and exercise… especially if I’m already perfect! Well, loving your body means treating it as best as is possible, because you want it to know it is loved and because it will love you back! Now, why the Green Tea Diet???
To answer this, let’s look at how diets should fundamentally work! Your body needs a certain amount of energy to get through each day, which is called your Daily Energy Expenditure (or DEE). This is the number of calories your body burns, and therefore the number of calories you need to consume to break even. Working out an exact DEE can be a little inexact and at times misleading. Add to this the fact that once you KNOW your DEE you now have to count your calories to ensure you’re not eating too much… so for someone looking to use a simple, yet effective, diet, we don’t recommend starting here.
The Green Tea Diet plan is based around the idea of Intermittent Fasting. This has been shown in numerous studies to be the best form of diet with regards safe weight loss. Does this mean it causes the most weight loss? No, just that it is the best for OVERALL HEALTH (with regards blood markers for inflammation and other potentially harmful hormones), for KEEPING THE WEIGHT OFF, and for MINIMIZING METABOLIC DEPRESSION. This is important, because many diets will cause you to have a huge reduction in your daily calories which slows your metabolism, and after a prolonged period of dieting not only will it stop working, but once you start eating normally you’ll put back on the weight with interest… AND won’t be all that healthy for your troubles. Our goal is HEALTH, and that will mean eating right, exercising, and having an athletic body (because we were meant to move).
Intermittent Fasting (or IF) is the easiest way of cutting calories WHILE improving your health and not needing to spend all your time checking how many calories are in 4 slices of celery with peanut butter! This way you can easily run a calorie deficit that isn’t too crazy and then for two days a week eat as you normally would (as this has been shown to help the metabolism return to normal so you can go back to dieting without having to worry!)
The first step of your green tea diet will be replacement! This replacement happens in 2 parts: firstly we replace unhealthy foods with healthier alternatives, and secondly, we replace breakfast with green tea! An easy way to think of it is that we’re replacing processed “CRAP” foods (see glossary at the end of the guide) with healthy, fresh whole-foods. This also means that even though you’ve heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day (which, unfortunately, isn’t exactly correct), you will be replacing it with the most nutritious drink possible, GREEN TEA. One of the primary reasons breakfast is believed to be the most important meal of the day is that it is when your body is most insulin responsive, as it hasn’t had any food for hours. But, this really just means that the first meal of the day is very important. Another reason people get so worked up about breakfast is the idea that it “sets you up for the day”, that you need to get as much fuel as possible in early. This is patently not true, and unfortunately many proponents of this idea fail to remember to eat less at dinner (to set themselves up for sleep). This idea of “windows of nutrition” has been on the decline as it has become more and more apparent that it is not this simple. Add to this the obvious, that your body goes into (or at least wants to go into) “rest and digest” mode after eating a big meal, while you’re planning to go out and have a busy and eventful morning. These 2 ideas don’t quite mesh, and given the health benefits of fasting AND hormonal advantages to operating on an empty stomach (such as…) it suddenly becomes clear that it’s not as straight forward as we were led to believe. There are studies that show people who eat breakfast have lower incidences of certain diseases and studies that show people who fast live longer and have better “bio-markers” for health, the difference being it is near impossible to show that it was the EATING BREAKFAST that lowered the rate of disease (and not just a contributing factor or even just a coincidence), whereas showing the impact of fasting is reasonably manageable. There is no clear answer to the breakfast conundrum, though it is clear that fasting is incredibly healthful! (and pretty easy on the wallet)
Simply put, in the morning you can take what vitamins you like, if absolutely necessary eat something small (dried fruit or nuts), and then sip on about 4-500mls of lightly sweetened green tea throughout the morning. Lightly sweetening it will help to keep your blood sugar up and help to stop you craving food. Have a second (or third) cup if necessary, but no food until lunch. Your lunch, dinner, and snacks should all be healthy, whole-foods (or at least healthier).
You should do this from Tuesday – Saturday (on Sunday and Monday you can eat as you like, but still healthy). The reason for this is that studies have shown that 2 consecutive days at maintenance calories (enough to maintain your bodyweight, or to put it another way, the amount you would normally eat without putting on weight) can bring the metabolism back to near “pre-diet” levels and improve metabolism more than 1 cheat day (where you over-eat). This is the first 2 weeks of the diet before starting the next step (below), EXERCISE!
As mentioned before, this helps on 2 fronts, the first being that you cut hundreds of calories from your day and can stock up on any vitamins you may miss with a nutrient dense lunch. The second, less recognised, benefit, is the relief this provides your body. Aside from the obvious strain constantly having food in your digestive system, there are also hormonal balances at play. When you are constantly “processing” food, you run the risk of chronically elevated insulin which can be hard for the body (which likes balance). Also, when you eat food, your body uses processes of the parasympathetic nervous system (digestion, urination, peristalsis, etc.). Many of these systems are “antagonistic” with regards their counterparts in the sympathetic nervous system meaning that if you are eating while stressed/”on the go”, neither system is working as it should. Just as in Hofmekler’s Warrior Diet, you should spend your morning/afternoon alert and productive (hunting/working) and your evening relaxed and recuperative (eating and reading my blog). Finally, the psychological effects of associating food with satiety or even comfort can lead to unhealthy eating habits. Needing food when you get up or when you get stressed is not a healthy (or happy) way to live.
For the first 2 weeks, the goal is to clean up your diet. Ideally, you will end up with a collection of recipes you can use to replace processed foods. Once you get over the initial pain of having to learn new recipes, you should be able to prepare a healthy meal in under 20 minutes. Many people find cutting breads out of their diet very difficult, so you can look to make your own. This logic can be applied to things like pizza (try substituting in a healthier/easier base and cut out the sugar in the sauce), Take-away food (a lot of Chinese recipes are actually quite simple and are healthy if made from scratch), or even desserts (which can be made healthier by substituting out some of the ingredients).
The goal here, MORE THAN ANYTHING, is to make changes you can stick with! Over time, these changes will add up and in a couple of months you will have transformed your diet.
We generally recommend having recipes for almond/coconut flour bread, easy salads, chocolate protein bars, omelettes, rice salads, sushi (just cause it’s fun), and (vegetable) soup. Everything (except the omelette) will still be delicious even if kept in the fridge for a day or two, so this means that you’re saving yourself time prepping healthy food.
Environment is also incredibly important, so now is the time to clear your cupboard/fridge of junk and replace it with fruit, versatile vegetables, some leafy greens for emergency salads, some berries/nuts/dried fruit (because snacking will happen no matter how much you tell yourself it won’t, so be prepared), some good quality protein powder, AND some water based, non-sugary drinks (green tea, black tea, herbals, fresh vegetable juice, or fresh citrus juice – lemon/lime with a touch of honey, even all natural cordials will work at a stretch).
The truth with this type of diet is that though most people lose weight, there are some who will struggle for one of three reasons:
1. You’re mis-managing your portion size and as a result are still consuming at/above your daily caloric expenditure
2. You’re snacking without realising it. This is a big problem as it can be an invisible habit that you don’t even notice (having a biscuit with tea, or having a snack after dinner etc)
3. The most awkward, but least likely, reason is medical. You’re correctly following the diet, doing the exercise, but not losing weight. This might mean you have a depressed metabolism or that there’s an underlying hormonal issue (hypothyroidism is a possible culprit). In reality, following this diet/exercise plan is still the best thing to do as it is very healthy in general. Go get checked out (by an ACCREDITED physician, not some D-Bag trying to get you to do an allergy test and sell you supplements before you even know what the problem is).
After you’ve done this, you can re-evaluate your approach. If it’s down to a depressed metabolism from too much “yo-yo” dieting, increase your calorie intake for a while (and your sleep) and then start back slowly. If it’s hormonal, then start on the medication (if you have to) and look for ways to naturally help with the underlying problem.
It’s almost always problem 1 or 2, but if you really feel you’re in line with your diet plan and getting your exercise in, and still not losing weight, it might be time to look for a professional’s help. Ok, so with the basics out of the way, let’s look at the reasoning behind this kind of diet in the Green Tea Diet Plan Part 2!