Weight Loss from Tea: Is There Any Evidence?

Although weight loss from tea is probably possible, it is not a magical supplement that will help you drop the pounds with very little work. Green tea has become popular in recent years as an anti-aging and as a weight loss supplement, and there is a core of truth to both claims, but the effect is weaker than what is hyped by supplement manufacturers.

Green Tea for Weight Loss

There is good scientific support for green tea’s cholesterol lowering effect, which helps contribute to an overall decrease in cardiovascular health. But what about weight loss? It can increase the metabolism, and thus energy expenditure, and so in theory should help burn fat better. One good thing about this is that it can do so without any known dangerous side effects, like with ephedra. Ephedra is a (now banned) stimulant that was somewhat effective in increasing metabolism, but it does so by increasing heart rate and blood pressure, and so it increases the risk of stroke and heart attack as well.

Green tea performs the same function without also increasing heart rate and blood pressure, and so can be seen as a healthy way to burn more energy more efficently and more safely. While studies support the cholesterol-lowering effects, they are not conclusive when it comes to weight loss from this tea. It is highly likely that the effect is simply not strong enough to make a noticeable difference in the amount of weight you will lose.

However, it has been shown to make a difference in fat oxidation and 24 hour energy expenditure, compared to a placebo, and so it might still be a good overall supplement to add to your weight loss plan. One study showed that its energy burning effects outweigh that of the caffeine content, and so even decaffeinated varieties might be good for increasing metabolism.

Conclusion

Good for the heart and cardiovascular system, and almost certainly safe to use, green tea is probably not the greatest supplement for direct weight loss. But since it has been proven to increase energy use and fat oxidation, it might still help be a contributing factor to your overall weight loss dieting plan. It does contain a small amount of caffeine (about 20% that of a typical cup of coffee), and so be aware that it could make you nervous or make it difficult to sleep if you are not used to caffeine.

Resources

http://www.ajcn.org/content/70/6/1040.full