Wednesday, June 3, 2015

60%+ Reduced Absorption of EGCG if You Consume GTE W/ Food - Better Take Your Green Tea Caps On Empty

Green tea smoothies - If you don't want to waste more than 60% of green tea's precious EGCG content, you better don't blend it with too much other stuff
While the previously discussed effect of milk on the bioavailability of the polyphenols from green tea (the beverage) is probably negligible, a recent study from the University of Cranberra suggests that the inhibitory effect of food on the absorption of the major catechins in green tea may be significant enough to say that it's important to take them away from food.

To assess the effects of different food matrices on the bioavailability of capsulated green tea supplements, Naumovski et al. came up with a systemic absorption test healthy fasted humans.
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On three separate days, their four healthy, normal-weight participants (3 males and 1 female aged 18-64 years) had to come to the clinic fasted (10h of fasting minimum). At the laboratory, the participants ingested 500 mg of EGCG given either as

  • two capsules (2 × 250 mg) with 100 mL of water only (without any breakfast), 
  • two capsules (2 × 250 mg) provided with 50 g of Special K breakfast cereal (Kellogg’s, Pagewood, NSW, Australia), or
  • in form of 200 mL of full cream milk or EGCG (500 mg) that had been incorporated in 200 g of strawberry sorbet 
All treatments were ingested within 5 min and no additional food was taken for a further 4 h. All participants were provided with a lunch and a drink three hours after ingesting the EGCG, which consisted of a sandwich (bread, ham, cheese, tomato, lettuce) and 200 mL of orange juice.
The reduction it antioxidant capacity you get if you just add milk to your tea is much lower (learn more)
Why is this study relevant for you? Obviously, more does not always help more, but if you ingest 500mg of EGCG, for example, to help you along with weight loss, it will make a difference if the amount that will actually arrive in the blood is diminished by 63% or 74%. That's the kind of difference that may even explain why some people are seeing an effect from green tea capsules, while others are not! It's also worth mentioning that this (albeit EGCG specific effect) of complex food matrices is significantly more pronounced than the effects of milk (esp. skimmed milk | see figure on the left) on the total antioxidant capacity of tea - an effect I discussed in detail in a previous article.
To determine the effect of the different food items on the absorption of EGCG, the scientists used blood samples that were taken before the ingestion of the capsules / sorbet, 30min, 1h, 2h, 3h, 5h, and 8h afterwards by the means of a previously installed intravenous catheter (BD, North Ryde, NSW, Australia).
Figure 1: The mean plasma EGCG concentration-time curves for the three different methods of oral delivery: capsules without breakfast (green), capsules with breakfast (purple) and strawberry sorbet (red). The values are means ± the standard error of the means for the four participants (n = 4 | Naumovski. 2015).
As the data in Figure 1 shows the amount of EGCG that actually made it into the blood of the study participants was significantly (and practically relevantly) reduced when the capsulse were ingested with food or the EGCG was incorporated into the sorbet.
SuppVersity Suggested: "Caffeine not Required for Performance Enhancing Effects of Green Tea in Recreational Athletes - 25% Increase in Fatty Acid Oxidation, 11% Increase in Maximal Endurance" | more
So what? With an AUC (area under the curve, is a measure for the total amount of EGCG that was released into the blood stream during the 8h study period) that was 2.7 and 3.9 times higher "on empty" compared to the "light breakfast" and "sorbet" trials and similar differences for the peak levels and the time it took for the EGCG levels in the blood to reach their maximum, there's little doubt that it does make a difference whether you take your green tea supplements with or without food.

In case you want to test whether my statement that GTE is still the most promising of the legally available fat burners (read more), you may thus want to make sure you're taking the EGCG on empty | Comment on Facebook!
  • Naumovski, Nenad, Barbara L. Blades, and Paul D. Roach. "Food Inhibits the Oral Bioavailability of the Major Green Tea Antioxidant Epigallocatechin Gallate in Humans." Antioxidants 4.2 (2015): 373-393.