For many people, it would be a dream come true if weight loss could be as simple as sipping the world's second most-consumed beverage, tea. Whether you prefer black, green or oolong tea, the jury, or in this case, the scientists and health experts, are still not back with a conclusive verdict as to whether any type of tea can make you lose weight.
Two pervasive weight loss misconceptions are that certain foods can make you burn fat/lose weight and natural or herbal products are safe and effective. As the Weight-control Information Network of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases points out, no food or drink burns fat and creates sustained weight loss. Additionally, anything that you consume, be it natural, herbal or otherwise, has the potential for negative consequences. The single best way to lose weight and maintain that weight loss is to reduce the number of calories taken in and increase physical activity levels.
Various types of types of tea are purported to have name numerous health benefits, which are recognized by traditional Chinese medicine and herbalists. Traditional Western medicine is also beginning to advocate some of those health benefits, but research is ongoing and as such, there are few medical claims. MedlinePlus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine advises on the proven benefits of drinking black or green tea, noting that they are likely effective in increasing mental alertness, but in relation to promoting weight loss, there is too little evidence to rate their effectiveness.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's research arm, the Agricultural Research Service, has conducted and continues to conduct studies to determine the health benefits of tea. In a small study conducted by physiologist William Rumpler and his colleagues, 12 volunteer test subjects were given one of four beverages over a period of three days. The beverages included full-strength tea, half-strength tea, colored water with caffeine similar to the amount in tea and colored water. After the three day period, energy expenditure was measured in all the test subjects; those who had drunk the full-strength tea or the caffeinated water had a 3 percent higher energy expenditure rate than the other test subjects. Additionally, in the test subjects who drank the full-strength tea, the fat oxidation was 12 percent higher than after the caffeinated water, suggesting that something other than just the presence of caffeine causes the weight loss, which would amount to an average of 67 calories per day.
EGCG, or epigallocatechin-3-gallate, is a substance in tea that may promote weight loss. The Aug. 19, 2010 edition of "Obesity" contains the results of a study done by the Department of Health and Exercise Science of Colorado State University titled, "Influence of Short-Term Consumption of the Caffeine-Free, Epigallocatechin-3-Gallate Supplement, Teavigo, on Resting Metabolism and the Thermic Effect of Feeding." Based on the results of other research, it has been determined that EGCG is the most bioactive of the catechins, or flavonoids, found in green tea. This study tested a supplement of EGCG and the effects it has on a resting metabolic rate and the thermic effect of feeding. This study concluded that short-term use of an EGCG supplement did not increase the two measures of energy consumption.
As MedlinePlus advises, there is still too little evidence for traditional Western medicine to advocate that any tea promotes weight loss. There is also too little evidence to advocate that any tea will not promote weight loss. Researcher Rumpler's test group drank 3 cups of full-strength tea per day, which may have lead to a loss of an average of 67 calories per day. In research terms, the test was of too short duration and with too few test subjects to be conclusive. Even if the results are taken as evidence, 67 calories per day does not make tea the stuff of weight loss dreams.
Tea does have antioxidant properties and contains polyphenols, which are both known to promote good health as part of a nutritious, balanced diet. Tea also contains caffeine, a substance not without its own benefits and health considerations.
If you enjoy drinking tea, do so unless contraindicated by your health condition or advice from your health care provider. Drinking tea without sugar as a replacement for other beverages with calories, may aid your weight loss goals by decreasing the liquid calories you consume.
- MedlinePlus: Green Tea
- MedlinePlus: Black Tea
- Agricultural Research Service: Brewing Up the Latest Tea Research
- "Obesity": Influence of Short-Term Consumption of the Caffeine-Free, Epigallocatechin-3-Gallate Supplement, Teavigo, on Resting Metabolism and the Thermic Effect of Feeding
- Weight-control Information Network/National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: Weight-loss and Nutrition Myths