British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

Metabolism and Metabolic Studies

Effects of green tea extracts on non-shivering thermogenesis during mild cold exposure in young men

Chantal Gosselina1a2 and François Hamana1a2 c1

a1 Unité de Recherche sur la Nutrition et le Métabolisme, Hôpital Montfort, 713, Chemin Montréal, Ottawa, ON, Canada K1K 0T2

a2 University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada K1N 6N5


The effects of epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) and caffeine on non-shivering thermogenesis (NST) during cold exposure is unknown. The purpose of the present study was to quantify the effects of co-ingesting EGCG and caffeine on the thermogenic responses of a 3 h cold exposure. A total of eight healthy males were exposed to mild cold, using a liquid-conditioned suit perfused with 15°C water, on two occasions and consumed a placebo or an extract of 1600 mg of EGCG and 600 mg of caffeine (Green tea). Thermic, metabolic and electromyographic measurements were monitored at baseline and during the cold exposure. Results showed that the AUC of shivering intensity over the cold exposure period was reduced by approximately 20 % in the Green tea (266 (sem 6) % maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) × min) compared with the Placebo (332 (sem 69) %MVC × min) (P= 0·01) treatments. In contrast, the total AUC for energy expenditure (EE) was approximately 10 % higher in the Green tea (23·5 (sem 1·4) kJ/kg × 180 min) compared with the Placebo (327 (sem 74) kJ/kg 180 min) (P= 0·007) treatments. The decrease in shivering activity combined with an increase in EE, following the ingestion of EGCG and caffeine during the cold exposure, indicates that NST pathways can be significantly stimulated in adult human subjects. The present study provides an experimental approach for human investigations into the potential role of diet and bioactive food ingredients in modulating NST during cold exposure. Stimulating NST pathways in such a manner may also provide important targets in the search of targets for the management of obesity and diabetes.

(Received May 04 2012)

(Revised October 16 2012)

(Accepted October 16 2012)

(Online publication December 14 2012)

Key Words:

  • Epigallocatechin-3-gallate;
  • Caffeine;
  • Non-shivering thermogenesis


c1 Corresponding author: F. Haman, fax +1 613 562 5149, email


  Abbreviations: BAT, brown adipose tissue; CHO, carbohydrate; EGCG, epigallocatechin-3-gallate; EMG, electromyography; MVC, maximal voluntary contraction; NA, noradrenalin; NST, non-shivering thermogenesis; RMS, root-mean-square; ST, shivering thermogenesis; T rec, rectal temperature