The calories you get from the foods you eat and the beverages you drink all contribute to weight gain if you consume more calories than you need. Neither tea nor coffee will melt belly fat; this is one of many nutrition myths that can derail your weight-loss plan. But both of these beverages can contribute to a reduced-calorie diet, to help you lose weight and belly fat, when you drink them without any added sugar, milk or cream.
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There's a reason for belly fat, and weight gain in general: too many calories consumed and not enough of them expended, or "burned," in energy output. No magic brew can boost your metabolism or burn body fat. The Mayo Clinic explains that your basal metabolic rate, or BMR — how many calories you burn when your body is at rest — is one factor that governs how many total calories you burn. You also burn a small number of calories through a process called thermogenesis, the energy your body uses to process food. The rest of the excess calories you eat you need to burn through physical activity to avoid gaining weight. The "liquid calories" you get from tea, coffee and other drinks can all add up if your beverages contain added sugar or fat.
One 8-ounce serving of brewed tea without sugar contains only 2 calories. Add 2 tsp. of granulated sugar to your tea, however, and you get an extra 32 calories. Some brands of sweetened, bottled tea have 140 calories, only 10 fewer than a 12-ounce can of regular cola. "Extra sweet" varieties of tea can impart up to 210 calories per bottle.
One cup of plain, brewed coffee also contains only 2 calories. Add 1 tbsp. of granulated sugar and your drink now has 51 calories. The same amount of half-and-half adds 20 calories, while skim milk adds only 5. So, it's possible to keep your coffee low-cal if you go easy on the sugar and creamer. On the other hand, a 20-ounce serving of some gourmet coffee drinks, made with whole milk and whipping cream, can give you up to 700 calories, almost all from added sugar and fat.
Unsweetened tea and coffee are low-calorie, non-sugary beverages. All you really need to drink for weight loss, though, is plain water, the Harvard School of Public Health says. Finding ways to cut calories — even those you get from beverages — is crucial to losing weight, including belly fat. The American Council on Exercise says the best way to burn belly fat is to put in an hour of moderate-to-vigorous exercise every day; couple this with twice-weekly strength training sessions to build lean muscle mass.
- U.S. Agricultural Research Service: National Nutrient Database
- Harvard School of Public Health: How Much Sugar Is in Soda, Juice, Sports Drinks and Energy Drinks
- Mayo Clinic; "Metabolism and Weight Loss: How You Burn Calories"; October 2009
- Mayo Clinic; "Coffee Calories: Sabotaging Your Weight-Loss Plan?"; Katherine Zeratsky; October 2010
- Starbucks: Menu
- American Council on Exercise: How Can I Get Rid of Belly Fat?
- Harvard School of Public Health: Healthy Beverage Guidelines
- Mayo Clinic; "Dieting? Beware of Liquid Calories"; Katherine Zeratsky; November 2009
- Lipton: Pureleaf Extra Sweet Iced Tea -- Nutrition Facts