Weight loss is a complicated subject. Fad diets seem to come and go monthly, and plenty of people find it difficult to fit grueling exercise regimens into their already-busy lives.
Also, societal standards and the body image issues they create often enter into the discussion, making it unproductive (and not much fun).
That’s why it can be helpful to look at weight loss through a different lens. While calories and exercise do matter, there’s another way to improve your health that also just might enhance your weight loss efforts.
Drinking tea daily can boost your efforts, and it doesn’t need to be a trendy “diet tea,” “weight loss tea,” or “flat tummy tea.” Pure, high-quality, natural teas contain a variety of naturally-occurring compounds that can help you stay on track and reach your goal weight.
Keep reading to learn what science says about tea, weight loss, and health!
How Tea Can Help You Achieve Your Goal Weight (And Stay There)
1. Support Fat-Burning
Drinking tea can help your body burn fat, even when you aren’t exercising.
And if you want the highest concentration of polyphenols and flavonoids, try matcha. These finely-ground tea leaves make the most potent tea available. (4)
A 12-week randomized study comparing overweight subjects on a standardized diet with or without green tea found the green tea group lost 3.3 kg (that’s over 7 pounds!) more weight than those who didn’t drink tea. (5)
Similarly, Puerh tea has also been shown to aid in weight loss. (6)
Additionally, a study on mice found that green, black, and oolong teas can help reduce inflammation and visceral belly fat even when the mice are fed a high-fat, high-sugar diet. (7) Visceral abdominal fat is the type of body fat that’s worst for your health, so it’s great to know you might be able to combat it by drinking more tea.
Finally, if you do have time to exercise, green tea can help you burn even more fat! Drinking tea dramatically boosts your fat oxidation during and after exercise, so don’t forget to hydrate with tea to get the most out of your physical activity. (8)
2. Bolster Metabolism
“Metabolism” is a catch-all term for your body’s daily energy needs. Your metabolism is measured in calories.
As you probably know, to lose weight you need to expend more calories than you eat, on average. That’s why eating less and exercising more are the most common methods for weight loss.
Research shows that drinking green tea can boost metabolism, upping your daily calorie burn by 4-8%. (9) (10) (2) While that may not sound like a lot, it adds up fast, especially when you consider those calories are burnt in addition to your diet or exercise regimen.
Not only that, green tea may also help you maintain your metabolic rate during fat loss. Normally as you lose weight your metabolism dwindles, which is the common culprit behind weight loss stalls. But one study suggests that in overweight women, green tea might help to prevent this effect. (11)
3. Guard Against Fat Gain and Help Maintain a Healthy Weight
Along with fat loss, another important aspect of weight loss is not regaining weight after you worked so hard to lose it.
Studies suggest that up to 80% of people who lose significant amounts of weight regain the fat they shed within one year. (12) That seems pretty unfair – all that hard work, followed by a rebound!
That means drinking white tea and green tea may help reverse the trend of unwanted weight gain after fat loss.
Some promising evidence also suggests that rooibos tea, a caffeine-free herbal tea, could help with maintaining a healthy weight by boosting metabolism and blocking new fat cells from forming, but no large-scale study has been done yet to confirm the results. (15) (16)
4. Fewer Cravings
Anyone who’s tried losing more than a few pounds knows that cravings, hunger pangs, and the temptation to binge on high-calorie foods can be major issues during and after weight loss.
It’s an easy mistake to make, but just one day of overeating can set you back a week or more.
What’s really behind cravings? One major factor is ghrelin, also called “the hunger hormone.” Your stomach, gut, and brain produce and release ghrelin. Any time your ghrelin levels spike, you’re likely to feel hungry–even if you just ate! (17)
Fortunately, catechins in tea can help to regulate your ghrelin levels. (18) That’s why drinking tea is an easy, simple way to minimize your cravings and balance your appetite during weight loss.
But what about night-time hunger pangs? It’s not a good idea to drink black tea before bed unless you want to be up all night!
Well, it turns out that natural compounds in caffeine-free peppermint tea can also be effective at curbing your cravings. These compounds instantly send a signal to your brain that reduces hunger.
One study found that inhaling the scent of peppermint resulted to an average of 5 pounds of weight loss in a single month! (19) If you go with peppermint tea to help curb cravings in the evening, remember to inhale the minty aroma while you sip.
Yet another caffeine-free way to curb your hunger pangs is by drinking ginger tea. Research shows that ginger tea can help you feel fuller and eat less. (20)
It can aid your digestion and increase nutrient bioavailability, too! (21) (22) When you drink ginger tea you absorb more nutrients from foods you eat, another reason you’re less likely to experience cravings.
Lastly, there’s another way tea can help you consume fewer calories. If you replace your morning latte or frappuccino with black or oolong tea, you’ve just reduced your daily calorie intake by an easy 300-500+ calories!
5. Blood Sugar Regulation
Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels is essential for preventing type 2 diabetes, but most people don’t realize it can also have a positive impact on weight loss.
When your blood sugar levels are high, your body can’t switch into fat-burning mode. In scientific terms, hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) inhibits lipolysis (the breakdown of fats) and fat oxidation (fat-burning). (23)
The primary causes of high blood sugar are overindulgence in carbs and insulin resistance.
That’s probably why one 12-week study demonstrated that hibiscus extract reduced body weight, body fat, and waist circumference in overweight people. (26)
Hibiscus can also help prevent metabolic syndrome, or control blood sugar in people who already have diabetes. (27)
What is a Healthy Weight, Exactly?
Currently, the most common standard for medical weight assessment is the body mass index (BMI). However, some researchers argue that BMI is “arbitrary and subjective,” and the data shows it’s not always the best way to gauge a healthy weight. (28) (29) (30)
If you’re shorter or taller than average or have a heavy bone structure, odds are that your BMI number won’t reflect your health accurately. In fact, in men, having an “overweight” BMI is linked with a lower risk of death by disease! (31)
That’s why it’s wiser to set a goal based on your body fat percentage or waist circumference. These measures accurately reflect whether or not you’re overweight, and they allow you to set realistic goals.
A body fat percentage of around 28% for men and 30% for women appears to be low enough to stay healthy for life. (32) That means most people may be setting goals that are overly ambitious!
At the start of your weight loss journey, you can have your body fat measured with calipers (by a personal trainer or doctor) or a DEXA scan at a bone clinic. Another even simpler way is to measure your waist at your belly button and compare it to your hip circumference–if you can get your waistline the same size or smaller than your hips, you’ll know you’ve reached a healthy weight. (31)
If you decide to lose weight, it’s vital that you do it for yourself. If you feel pressured by cultural expectations, your spouse, or even your doctor, chances are you’ll just beat yourself up and won’t find the level of commitment necessary to succeed.
Losing weight isn’t easy, so every bit of help counts.
By maintaining a healthy weight, you can lower your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, and pain. (33)
Drinking Camellia sinensis-derived teas like green tea, white tea, oolong, Puerh, and matcha provides you with numerous benefits for easier weight loss. Not only that, tea offers synergistic health benefits that complement the positive effects of losing weight. (34)
Alternatively, if you’re sensitive to caffeine or want a caffeine-free option for bedtime, herbal teas like rooibos, mint, hibiscus, and ginger are also fantastic choices that can boost your body’s ability to shed unwanted weight.