There’s a plethora of trendy drinks circulating on platforms like TikTok and Instagram, promising rapid weight loss, from lemon water to apple cider vinegar shots, and the ever-popular “weight-loss teas.”
However, the reality is that no single food or beverage works like magic when it comes to losing weight.
The most effective approach to weight loss is multifaceted, involving a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein, regular exercise, and healthy sleep habits.
If you’re aiming to eat healthier and shed some pounds, opting for nutrient-dense foods is key.
Sugary beverages, while high in calories, offer little nutritional value compared to nutrient-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Moreover, sugary drinks don’t promote the same feeling of fullness as solid foods, and most individuals don’t compensate for liquid calories by eating less, as noted in a 2023 review from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
So, what’s the ideal choice for weight loss? Let’s explore why tea tops the list.
Tea, the second most consumed beverage globally after water, can play a significant role in achieving weight-loss goals.
There are two main types: true teas and herbal teas. True teas—green, oolong, black, and white teas—are derived from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, while herbal teas are made from various plant parts.
Switching from calorie-laden drinks like sweetened coffee to lower-calorie, unsweetened tea can substantially reduce your overall calorie intake.
Americans, on average, consume 145 calories daily from sugar-sweetened beverages, so opting for a low-sugar option can lead to significant calorie savings over time.
All true teas contain catechins, a type of polyphenol associated with increased metabolism and the breakdown of fat for energy, according to a 2020 review in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.
Green tea, particularly matcha-grade green tea, boasts the highest catechin levels among true teas.
The Best Drink for Weight Loss
Aids in Reducing Sugar Consumption
Research underscores the adverse health impacts of excessive sugar-sweetened beverage consumption, as per a 2019 study in Circulation.
Opting for unsweetened green tea over sugary drinks can effectively lower your added sugar intake.
Besides being sugar-free, drinking two to three cups of green tea daily may confer additional health perks, including a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes, according to a 2019 meta-analysis in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research.
Abundant in Catechins
While all true teas contain catechins, green tea boasts the highest levels, particularly epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG, the predominant catechin in green tea, has drawn considerable interest from researchers.
Green tea, and EGCG specifically, may aid weight loss by increasing metabolic rate and facilitating fat burning for energy, as per a 2018 review from Molecules.
A higher metabolic rate translates to potential weight loss, as it denotes the number of calories your body expends during everyday activities.
Pairing green tea with exercise seems to enhance EGCG’s efficacy.
A small 2018 study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Science found that women who consumed matcha green tea before exercising burned more fat than those who did not.
Long-term research on green tea consumption and weight status is limited.
However, a 2022 study conducted in Korea, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, noted a 44% lower risk of abdominal obesity among women who consumed four or more cups of green tea daily.
Green tea’s unique blend of catechins and caffeine makes it particularly beneficial for weight loss. Caffeine, a natural stimulant, enhances alertness and exercise performance.
When it comes to calorie burning, caffeine and EGCG seem to complement each other.
A 2017 systematic review from Nutricion Hospitalaria concluded that green tea extract was effective for weight loss only when combined with 80 to 300 milligrams of caffeine daily.
Potential Side Effects
Green tea extract, a common ingredient in weight-loss supplements, has been associated with potential adverse effects such as constipation, nausea, liver damage, and increased blood pressure, according to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements.
However, no safety concerns are reported for consuming green tea as a beverage.
While an 8-ounce cup of green tea contains approximately 30 mg of caffeine—considerably less than the 90 to 100 mg in a standard cup of coffee—opting for decaffeinated green tea may be preferable if caffeine sensitivity affects your ability to sleep soundly at night.
Interference with Iron Absorption
Green tea contains tannins and oxalates, natural compounds that can impede iron absorption in the body.
Although tannins may reduce iron absorption with one meal, long-term studies have yet to definitively establish a link between tea consumption and iron deficiency, according to a 2017 review in Current Developments in Nutrition.
While the weight-loss effects of green tea are likely modest, it offers health benefits beyond plain water.
As you reconsider your beverage choices for weight loss, consider incorporating green tea into your routine—it hydrates, provides an energy boost from caffeine, and supplies potent antioxidants in the form of catechins.