Teas sold as diet teas or weight-loss teas often contain laxatives, so they aren't usually recommended for regular or long-term use. If you'd like to use a safer version of a tea that may have some weight-loss benefits, you can make your own laxative-free version using green tea.
Weight-Loss Tea Effectiveness and Risks
Weight-loss teas often contain buckthorn, aloe, cascara sagrada, senna or other laxative herbs. When you drink these teas, you use the bathroom more often, but any weight loss will most likely be water weight and not true weight loss. Once you're properly hydrated, the weight will come right back. Using laxatives can have a number of adverse effects, including stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea, dependence on laxatives and dehydration, and impaired absorption of nutrients. Laxatives can also cause electrolyte imbalances, which in turn can lead to muscle weakness and heart and liver damage.
Green Tea and Weight Loss
The catechins found in green tea help improve fat loss caused by exercising, according to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2009. It appears the beneficial effects of green tea on weight loss may be greater in people who usually get a lot of caffeine in their diet than those who don't consume much caffeine, notes a study published in Obesity Research in 2005. The combination of catechins and caffeine in the tea may have synergistic effects and increase fat burning while decreasing appetite, both of which may be responsible for its effects on weight loss, according to a review article published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry in 2010. The effects of green tea on weight are relatively small, however. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition in 2010 found that drinking 4 cups of green tea per day led to an additional 5 pounds of weight loss over the course of the eight-week study. You'll need to cut calories and increase your physical activity for more significant weight loss.
Additions to Tea That May Improve Weight Loss
Not everyone likes plain green tea, and adding sugar to the tea may limit its weight-loss effects. There are plenty of other potentially beneficial additions you can use to improve both the flavor and your weight loss, however. For example, cinnamon may help decrease body fat and improve body composition, according to a preliminary study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition in 2006, although further research is necessary to verify these potential benefits.
Those who really need a touch of sweetness in their tea may want to add honey instead of sugar. An animal study published in Nutrition Research in 2011 found that using honey instead of sugar helped limit weight gain and food consumption. Further research is needed to know if the effect is similar in people. Keep the honey to a minimum, though, as it still adds calories you'll need to take into account if you want to lose weight.
Ingredients to Avoid in Tea for Weight Loss
For the best weight-loss results, don't add milk or cream to your green tea. The type of protein found in milk appears to limit the metabolism-enhancing effects of the green tea and thus its potential weight loss benefits, according to a study published in Nutrients in 2011. Likewise, you shouldn't add sugar, as this just adds empty calories to your tea without the benefits of any essential nutrients.