Whether you’re a tea drinker or more of a coffee person, you can’t deny that there’s something calming about a steaming cup of Earl Grey. Relaxation is not all there is to this drink, though. Indulging in a mug can also bring some potential health benefits (think: cancer and heart disease prevention) and may even support your efforts in losing weight. You should know even the best teas for weight loss won’t help you shed pounds or burn belly fat overnight (sorry to disappoint!), but they can be a great addition to a healthy diet and fitness routine.
“No tea is going to act as a magic bullet,” says Liz Sasso-Karelitsky, RDN, of Love Food RD, but one way to get the most out of your tea is by having a cup right after eating. “The act of making a cup of tea and taking the time to sit and drink it would help to signal to your mind and your body that the meal is over.” The ritual of preparing it also helps you take a moment and tune into your fullness cues, she adds.
Tea is also a great way to stay hydrated, says Sarah Rueven, RDN, CDN, the founder of Rooted Wellness. When you’re dehydrated, you might crave sweets and other sugary foods even though you’re just thirsty. Drinking enough fluids can also help your cells communicate better, which encourages your body to put in the extra work to slightly increase your metabolism. Plus, herbal teas that are meant to help you sleep can also contribute to weight loss, since getting sufficient rest can be a major factor in the process, she explains.
If you’re more into iced than hot tea, note that the benefits are the same, no matter what temperature your brew is. But if you prefer to order your chilled refreshment out, Sasso-Karelitsky suggests being careful about what’s in your cup. Chains like Starbucks are known for pouring lots of sweeteners and juices into their iced teas, she says. So, always ask for unsweetened.
One note: Pregnant women should stay away from herbal teas containing licorice root, which can be harmful in high doses. Instead, stick to other options like peppermint, chamomile, and ginger, Rueven says. Also, make sure to consume caffeinated teas in moderation, Sasso-Karelitsky adds.
Want to give teas a try? Here are the 10 best teas for weight loss and the science behind them.
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One Clinical Nutrition study found green tea extract can led to weight loss and even reduced waistline in women after 12 weeks. This might be because green tea extract significantly lowers ghrelin levels in the body, which is a gut hormone. (An added bonus: Green tea also lowered cholesterol in the participants!)
FYI, tea is a supplement that’s not regulated by the FDA, says Rueven. That means you can’t always be sure how much green tea or green tea extract you’re really getting in one product. The amount of these ingredients may vary, she notes.
A good rule of thumb when buying: “The more organic, natural, less processed varieties are most likely going to have a higher amount of green tea extract,” per Rueven.
Black tea may help you lose weight, explains Sasso, but that’s mostly due to its caffeine content. “The caffeine can help give us a little bit more more energy,” she says. More energy equals more exercise, which can help you burn a few extra calories.
While white tea hasn’t been studied as much as its black and green counterparts, some evidence suggests it may help with weight loss. White tea extract has been shown to cut down fat accumulation in mice by ramping up metabolism, according to a 2019 study. But more research still needs to be done to fully support this claim and demonstrate whether it applies to humans.
There are many different kinds of herbal tea, from peppermint to chamomile. While a cup can’t reduce belly fat, Rueven says ginger tea contains the compound gingerol, which is great for bloating and gas. “And, it also has anti-inflammatory properties that can calm your GI tract,” she adds. Pro tip: Honey and lemon pair well with ginger for an extra-soothing flavor.
Matcha is a Japanese green tea that’s sold as a powder. It contains more antioxidants than other kinds of tea because the tea plants are grown in the shade, according to one study in the scientific journal Foods. It’s considered to be the highest quality green tea on the market.
Drinking matcha one day, then 30 minutes before exercising can increase fat oxidation, or the rate at which your body burns fat, research in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism shows. (But it’s worth noting that the study was small, and more testing still needs to be done.)
Note that matcha contains a high amount of caffeine, so avoid drinking it in the evening.
Rooibos tea is a type of herbal tea that grows in South Africa. There’s red rooibos and green rooibos, which are processed differently—red is fermented, while green isn’t.
A review in the journal Planta Medica concluded that the aspalathin in rooibos tea can potentially increase sugar and fat metabolism. You can take in this compound by drinking rooibos tea or by consuming green rooibos extract, which contains a high concentration of aspalathin. Again, more research (specifically on humans) is still needed to confirm the effects.
This caffeinated tea may help you burn off more energy because it stimulates fat burning and ups your metabolic rate. It may help lower body fat content, per a review in Food Science and Human Wellness.
Mate tea, including the popular Yerba mate tea, could have some serious weight loss benefits. One Journal of Functional Foods study found that mate can help you burn off more calories and lose weight. It can also lower cholesterol, in case you need another reason to brew a cup.
Purple tea is a kind of green tea that was first developed in Kenya. One small study in the International Journal of Biomedical Science found that the caffeine in purple tea leaves and extract can stop the body from absorbing fat. Ten male participants noticed weight loss and lower body fat after downing 100 to 200 mL of tea twice a day for one month.
Fermented Pu-Erh tea hails from China’s Yunnan Province and is a popular weight loss aid in Asia. It contains two compounds, therabrownin and gallic acid. They can help fight off free radicals and clear out toxins—plus, they have anti-obesity effects, according to a study published in Food Research International.
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