The term tea is sometimes applied to brews made by infusing different types of herbs in water. However, real tea is made from tea bush. A plant whose scientific name is Camellia sinensis. While tea originated from Asia, it is now grown many parts of the world. It’s no wonder that more tea is consumed than any other beverage except water.
Billions of people enjoy the soothing effects of a drink of tea. According to the World Tea News, about 2.16 billion cups of tea are consumed daily. Per capita tea consumption is 35.2 liters annually. In fact, drinking tea has become akin to a daily tradition for billions of people across the world.1)
But, is tea good for weight loss? This is the subject of our discussion. But first, let us look at what causes excess weight or obesity.
What Causes Excess Weight?
Being overweight or obese occurs when a lot of fat is stored in the body. This does not mean that only people who consume a lot of fat or oils can pack on body fat. The truth is that any food you eat that your body does not break-down to produce energy, is converted to body fat. This is the reason why there are so many overweight or obese people seeking to shed some weight.
But to shed this excess weight, your body has to break-down the fat and use it as a source of energy. This is a difficult feat considering that body fat is locked inside cells. Still, you can lose weight by following a strict diet made up of food with fewer calories than what your body needs, or exercising in such a way that your body uses up all the calories in the food you eat so that it has to break down stored fat for energy.
But this is harder it sounds and would require that you follow the regime for a long period of time. Hence the need for more sustainable and less demanding weight loss routines.
Can Tea Help in Weight Loss?
If your body is regularly stimulated to burn more calories, you may be able to lose weight. This is one of the ways that tea supports loss of weight.
Many studies have found that regular consumption of tea stimulates an increase in metabolic rate. This means that the body ends up burning more calories than it would without tea consumption.
But how does this happen? Tea contains various beneficial compounds including caffeine which is known to enhance physical performance and therefore, fat burning. One cup of tea contains 24 – 40 mg of caffeine, which is less than the 100 – 200 mg per cup of coffee.
Still, this is a significant amount that can act as a weight loss aid. Caffeine works best when it is combined with physical activity. It also inhibits appetite so that your calorie intake is reduced.2)
Catechins, Powerful Antioxidants
Besides caffeine, tea also contains antioxidants called catechins such as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Various studies have shown that catechins have weight loss effects in the body. Catechins boost metabolism, both when you are physically active or at rest.
EGCG, the most potent catechin in tea inhibits the action of an enzyme that breaks down the fat-burning norepinephrine hormone. This helps to increase the amounts of norepinephrine hormone available for the breakdown of body fat. It is worth noting that the fat-burning hormone works from within the cells where the fat is stored.3)
Other studies have found that some compounds in tea called polyphenols, promote growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut and inhibit growth of harmful bacteria. This is an additional way in which tea promotes loss of weight.4)
Which Tea Is Best for Weight Loss?
Many studies have been conducted on a number of the most common tea varieties. The findings of these studies show that tea in general is beneficial to health and specifically as an aid to losing weight. This is because the different varieties of tea come from the same plant species: Camellia sinensis. For this reason, the different teas contain the same active compounds such as caffeine and catechins.
However, due to the different harvesting and processing methods, different teas may have higher or lower amounts of the active compounds. This would mean that you may need to take more or less tea depending on the type, to get similar results.
Types of Tea
While there are many different varieties of tea, the most common types are black tea, green tea, oolong tea, white tea and Pu-erh tea.
How different are these teas? As previously mentioned, all these teas come from the same plant. The main difference between them is the way they are processed after harvesting.
- Black tea is the most widely consumed tea globally at 84 percent of all tea consumed. It is made from fermented tea leaves.
- Green tea is the second most popular at 15 percent of all tea consumption. Green tea is produced by steaming the freshly harvested leaves to inhibit fermentation. The tea leaves are then dried, milled and packed for the market.
- The other three; white tea, oolong tea and Pu-erh tea, constitute a total of 1 percent of tea consumption. Each is processed in a different method. However, because of their relatively low consumption, there are few studies on them.5)
How to Take Tea for Weight Loss
The most common method of taking tea is by brewing a cup. This can be done by pouring boiling water over a teaspoon of tea in a cup and letting it to steep for a few minutes. Some tea experts advise you to let the boiled water to cool down before pouring it over the tea leaves to maximize antioxidant activity.
Alternatively, you can take a tea extract to achieve similar results. It is, however, important to note that tea is effective in weight loss when it is taken without sugar, milk or similar additives.
What makes tea even more important for weight loss is the fact that you don’t need to drink too much of it to benefit. According to some studies, 2 to 3 cups in a span of 24 hours can help you shed a few pounds within 12 weeks.
A Natural Solution
A lot of studies show that regular intake of tea is good for weight loss. And whether you prefer black, green, white, oolong, Pu-erh or tea extract, the effect is similar if your intake contains similar amounts of the active compounds. Additionally, unlike beverages like soda and juices, tea is natural and free from additives.
Tea also has other health benefits. It can help lower the risk of stroke, heart attack and heart disease. It also has anti-cancer properties.
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