I’m excited to share some developments from a project that’s been on my mind for about 5 years, since Megan Ramos and I started the Intensive Dietary Management program to help people lose weight and reverse type 2 diabetes by focusing on dietary methods rather than medications. One of the innovative features of the IDM program was the addition of intermittent and extended fasting as a therapeutic option for weight loss, and with that key factor, success rates improved dramatically.
At the time, no decent reference books on fasting and very little good information was available anywhere even on the Internet, which has information on everything. With nothing available, I had to write ‘The Complete Guide to Fasting‘ to provide a trustworthy, reliable source of credible information. The same problem exists for fasting aids. There is simply nothing available for people who have trouble dealing with hunger pangs and other issues while fasting. If nothing was available, then I would need to create it from scratch. Sure, some people take to fasting like a duck to water, but others have issues, and there is nothing designed specifically to help them. Until now. I’m thrilled to be able to offer a new line of Fasting Tea in collaboration with Pique Tea.
I’ve always encouraged drinking green and black tea during the fasting period for a number of reasons. Successful weight loss depends NOT on counting calories, but upon controlling the body’s hunger mechanisms and energy expenditure. As weight loss progresses, hunger increases and basal metabolic rate decreases. This compensation may lead to weight regain. Many clinical studies support the weight loss benefits of green tea. The compounds responsible for the benefits are thought to be the green tea catechins (GTC), of which EGCG is the main one.
The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) activates the so called ‘fight or flight’ response. When confronted with a lion, for example, the SNS is stimulated, and the body prepares for upcoming action – to either fight, or run really fast. Hormones such as noradrenalin increase awareness, arousal and increase availability of energy (glucose). SNS activation plays a big role in overall energy expenditure and lipolysis (burning of fat for energy). In 1975, researchers found that green tea catechins (GTC) blocks COMT, the enzyme that degrades noradrenalin and thus GTC could increase noradrenalin levels and increase energy expenditure. Caffeine operated by blocking phosphodiesterase and increases cyclic AMP which had the same effect of increasing noradrenalin. Since green tea contains both GTC + caffeine, this could work together to increase the calorie expenditure by up to 4%, a rather significant amount of energy if sustained daily.
Activation of the SNS increases lipolysis as the body pushes stored energy (glucose and body fat) into a readily usable form (blood glucose) to prepare for the upcoming fight or flight. Certain areas of body fat, the abdominal areas are more sensitive to the fat burning effects than others. For example, one study in type 2 diabetes showed that green tea could reduce waist size even though body weight was unchanged, indicating a decrease in the dangerous visceral fat.
The other big problem of long term weight loss is that hunger increases over time, and thus controlling hunger is a hugely important factor in long term success. Studies suggest that high dose GTC lowers ghrelin (the hunger hormone) and thus can suppress hunger pangs. Further, GTC interferes with normal nutrient absorption by inhibiting the enzymes (amylase and glucosidase) needed for proper glucose absorption. In diseases of excess nutrition, anti-nutrients (like fiber) can be valuable tools. Taking GTC with food (meals) may lead to malabsorption of up to 25% of the glucose load. GTC blocks the enzymes needed for carbohydrate absorption, and some of it passes right through our bodies. In one study, participants were given a carbohydrate rich meal (rice) with a mixture of green tea, black tea and mulberry, and the amount of breath hydrogen measured. When carbohydrates are eaten, but not absorbed, they ferment in the intestinal system and produce hydrogren, which can then be measured. The tea mixture clearly blocked the body from absorbing all the available carbohydrate – exactly the effect we want for weight loss and type 2 diabetes.
So, the potential benefits of using tea as an aid to fasting is very promising. In medicine, every potential therapy must be evaluated according to the benefit/risk ratio. The benefits are relatively small, but the risks are almost non-existent. Tea has been used without major health issue for millennia. If there was going to be a problem, we, as humans would have known about it a long time ago. Thus, the benefit/risk ratio is very high for the use of tea. The two big problems of long term weight loss (hunger and decreased metabolic rate) are remedied to some degree by green tea, a completely natural substance. Awesome.
However, there were some problems with just telling people to drink green tea. The doses of green tea catechins (GTCs) studied is quite high often requiring upwards of 5-10 cups per day. In Asia, where people often drink this amount, it may be acceptable, but elsewhere 3 cups would be a more reasonable amount. Further, if you are drinking 10 cups of tea per day, then you would need to be concerned about the purity of the product (pesticides and mold) that may be on the tea leaves.
Since no line of fasting tea on the market was acceptable, I realized that I would need to create an entirely new category to help people with their weight loss and fasting. So I worked the cutting edge folks at Pique Tea (from California – where else?) on a potential solution. Pique Tea is not your usual blend of tea leaves and offers a unique solution to the two problems of GTC dose and purity.
First, the single plantation, high-altitude green tea is grown in a family owned tea garden in the Zhejiang province of China. Instead of merely packing the tea leaves into teabags for traditional steeping, the tea undergoes a cold brew process for up to 6 hours.
The more familiar cold brew process in coffee allows for better tasting coffee for several reasons. Coffee contains many aromatic chemicals that are water soluble. Hot water brewing extracts these solubles quickly and releases them into the air, which is why there is such a nice smell in the room. However, the high temperature can cause oxidation (the same process as rusting) and degradation of these compounds, giving coffee a more sour and acidic note. Brewing in colder temperatures is slower, so extraction of these compounds takes hours or even days.
Using this same idea, cold brew tea is able to extract more fully the delicate polyphenols and catechins that are thought to be responsible for much of the metabolic benefits of green tea. This patented Cold Brew Crystallization process extracts up to 6 times the amount of GTCs from the green tea, compared to hot water brewing. You could drink 2-3 cups per day of Pique tea to obtain the equivalent amount of catechins used in studies (5-10 cups per day). Third party testing confirms the higher doses of fat-busting GTCs.
I believe the Pique approach is superior, because those studies used an industrial method of enriching green tea with catechins rather than this ‘whole foods’ method of cold brewing tea that preserves all the natural elements in its natural balance. The cold brewed tea is then dehydrated and crystallized so that it is available in a convenient form that can be dissolved in hot or cold water. You can take this small packet anywhere and brew a full bodied cup of tea. Pique Tea is essentially dried crystals of concentrated tea with none of the industrial processing used in catechin enrichment of green tea extracts used in studies.
Regarding purity, all Pique tea is organically grown and triple checked for purity. There are three levels of pesticide screening – at the time of purchase of tea leaves, at the time of delivery and the final product. In addition, Pique performs in house testing of heavy metal, bacteria, and mold toxin to ensure the highest purity on the market. This combination of purity and flavour allowed Pique to capture 3 gold medals (out of 3 categories entered) in the 2018 global tea championships, that is judged purely on flavour.
With all these advantages, Pique tea is a great solution to the ‘fasting aid’ problem. This is an organic, whole foods, Keto-friendly tea that contains high levels of the GTCs. But we can do better. The new fasting line of teas contains two additional elements to help. We blended the pure green tea with organic matcha – the ground up leaves of green tea. This energizing blend gives the tea a slightly heavier body that further helps suppress the appetite during fasting. The other blend is designed to be a calming mix of citrus and ginger – essences designed specifically to deal with hunger pangs and stomach gurgling.
The two Fasting Teas will be available shortly and you can find more information here. I understand fully that fasting is not always easy, and I’m hoping that this Fasting Tea will be the difference that allows people to harness the healing power of our own bodies. This new fasting tea can help reduce hunger pangs and increase energy expenditure. In almost every other pursuit in life (like golf) there are aids. Finally, we have something to help people with fasting. If people are better able to deal with hunger, then they can allow their own bodies to ‘eat’ their own body fat – the precise reason why it is there in the first place.
Full disclosure – I do consulting with the Pique Tea company to create the Fasting Tea line, and am compensated for it.