Tea with lemon is a healthful drink that's almost calorie-free, which makes it an ideal drink for a weight-loss diet. Tea itself, especially green tea, may have some effect on weight loss, but don't count on it as your main strategy for slimming down. If you enjoy lemon tea, incorporate it into a weight loss plan that includes a reduced-calorie diet and exercise.
Start With Green Tea
Drinking water before meals helps fill you up so you will eat fewer calories, making it easier to lose weight. In a study of 48 dieters, those who drank about 2 cups of water before meals lost more weight than those who didn't, according to research published in the journal Obesity in 2011.
But if water is good, green tea may be even better. Of all the available teas, green tea has some evidence for potential weight loss benefits in some people. In one study, people who drank at least 4 cups of green tea per day for 8 weeks lost 5 pounds more than those who drank the same amount of water. The increased weight loss is most likely due to the combination of caffeine and polyphenols in the tea, both of which may increase metabolism and fat burning. The study, published in 2010 in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, used subjects who were obese, so it's not known if green tea has the same effect in people with healthy weights or in those who are overweight, but not obese.
Increase Weight Loss Effects With Lemon
Once you've brewed your green tea, add a splash of lemon juice. Lemon, and other vitamin C-rich foods, may increase the quantity of beneficial polyphenols your body absorbs from the tea, according to a Purdue University study published in Food Research International in 2010. Stirring in a little sugar or honey may increase absorption even more, but be careful not to add too much because these sweeteners can add a significant number of calories to an otherwise calorie-free beverage. A tablespoon of lemon juice has just 3 calories, but each teaspoon of sugar has 15 calories and each teaspoon of honey has 21 calories. Increasing your vitamin C intake may have other weight loss benefits, as well. People who consume more vitamin C tend to burn more body fat during exercise, according to an article published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition in 2005.
If you're not a fan of lemon in your tea, there are plenty of other ways to use lemon juice. Squeeze a slice or two over fish or seafood to give the food more flavor, add lemon juice to your water or use it to make a salad dressing along with a little olive oil and Dijon mustard. A mix of garlic, olive oil, lemon and herbs or spices makes a delicious marinade for fish or poultry.
Skip the Milk and Cream
If you're trying to lose weight, you may want to skip the dairy add-ins for your green tea. Although milk and cream are among the more common additions to tea, a milk protein may limit any increases in metabolism caused by green tea, according to a study published in Nutrients in 2011.
On the other hand, adding milk to black tea may be OK. Another study, published in Free Radical Research in 2001, found that milk doesn't affect absorption of polyphenols in black tea. Both studies were very small, so further research is necessary to verify the effects of milk proteins on polyphenol absorption in various kinds of tea.
Milk and cream also increase the number of calories in your tea, so if your cup of green tea did have any slight fat-burning effects, they'd most likely be negated by the extra calories.
Follow a Reduced-Calorie Diet
Diet is one of the main factors that affects how much weight you lose. For each pound of weight loss, you need to burn an extra 3,500 calories by eating less, exercising more or both. You can do this by eliminating 500 calories per day from your typical diet, which will result in losing 1 pound a week.
Besides eating fewer refined grains, eat fewer processed, sugary and fatty foods. Get most of your calories from vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains and lean protein foods to help with weight loss and to get enough of the essential nutrients. Divide your plate into quarters, with one section each for fruits, vegetables, whole grains and protein.
Don't Forget to Exercise
Adding exercise to your daily routine makes it easier to lose weight. Aim for a total of 300 minutes of cardio and two strength training sessions per week. Examples of cardio include swimming, brisk walking and running, as well as aerobics or dance classes.
You may get even more benefits from exercise if you drink green tea daily. Study participants who drank a beverage containing green tea polyphenols lost more belly fat from exercising compared to those who exercised but didn't drink the tea, according to a study published in The Journal of Nutrition in 2009.