Weight Loss Tea

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If you’re into tea, you’ve heard the claims a thousand times. Drink tea to lose weight. Amazing weight-loss wulong tea. Best tea for weight loss!

And you know what? Those claims are true. Tea (or to be more specific, EGCG which is found in the highest concentration in green tea) does, as demonstrated by experiment against placebo and caffeine-only supplement, increase energy expenditure and fat oxidation.

So there you go. Science for the win.

Shirtless male model drinking tea because clearly he lost weight doing so Oh wait…this is the Tea Geek blog. You know, Tea Geek—where every class starts with the disclaimer about the right answer always being “it’s more complicated than that.”

Yeah, so that experiment I mentioned? Well, they dosed the subjects using green tea extract with an EGCG concentration of approximately 1-2 cups of miscellaneous green tea brewed roughly the way most people brew green tea. (It’s hard to tell for sure because the concentration of EGCG depends on cultivar, processing, leaf age at plucking and how long since it was processed, brewing temperature, leaf-to-water ratio and all that good stuff. So if you really want to be sure you’re getting the right amount you shouldn’t drink tea but take an extract pill.  But we’ll say a cup or two.) They dosed the subjects 3 times during a day. So now we’re talking the amount of EGCG in 3-6 cups of green tea per day.

And their energy expenditure shot through the roof! Well, if by “shot through the roof” you mean “increased by approximately 4%.”

Which, for the subjects’ assigned diet during the exercise, amounted to an increase of about 78 calories in a day.

Which is the caloric equivalent of about 20 pistachios or a single stick of string cheese.

Which means that if you really want the tea to help you lose weight, you’d better be so close to losing weight already that you’re only gaining weight by the caloric equivalent of one boiled egg or a single orange per day, and you’d better drink two cups of tea with every meal every day.  Then, hoo boy!  Watch out.  You’ll start shedding the pounds…er…a few calories every day.

Actually, how many pounds would that be?  Doing a little math, if you were maintaining your weight in perfect equilibrium without tea, and you started to drink your 3-6 cups per day, you’d end up dropping one pound every 6 weeks for a grand total of 8 pounds per year!

So yes, tea helps you lose weight.  Or, you could just drink a cup of tea instead of a can of coke and that would do you twice as much good.

Bonus:  Curious what else you could be burning off with your daily 1.5 quarts of tea?  Here are 20 snacks under 100 calories.  Keep in mind that your weight-loss tea intake will be completely overwhelmed by some of those snacks.  You’d better keep to the ones under 80 calories just to be safe.

4 Comments »

  1. Toffler said,

    July 21, 2013 @ 8:59 am

    You have a great writing style and I liked the simplified analysis but I think the assumption is flawed. The premise that body weight is merely a function of calories in v. calories out is increasingly being proven false.

    Beyond the 4% increased energy expenditure due to EGCG, you also have the increased movement, and thus energy expenditure, from caffeine (more energy means you’re more likely to workout, right?). Second there’s less snacking since tea helps hydrate, improves satiety and sensations of fullness, and curbs cravings (at least some teas do).

  2. The Lazy Literatus - Geoff said,

    July 21, 2013 @ 11:14 am

    You’ve done many a blog. This one is my favorite.

  3. Michael J. Coffey said,

    July 21, 2013 @ 12:14 pm

    Geoff: Thanks!

    Toffler: Refer back to the experiment. They tested against a caffeine-only supplement, so any expenditure of energy due to caffeine has already been taken into account and didn’t have a meaningful impact on the results. (Or, as they put it, “Treatment with caffeine in amounts equivalent to those found in the green tea extract had no effect on EE and RQ nor on urinary nitrogen or catecholamines.”) So we can rule out “extra energy” from caffeine.

    They also controlled the diet of the participants of the study, so there was no more/less snacking in the experiment. But in the real world a person might snack less if they’re well hydrated. Following that line of logic, though, water is better for weight loss than tea because (a) it’s hydrating and will reduce snacking, and (b) it doesn’t contain a diuretic (caffeine). (Technically speaking, water is also a diuretic, since the more water you drink the more you urinate, but caffeine has a very slight stimulating effect in that direction.)

  4. May King Tsang said,

    July 22, 2013 @ 1:39 pm

    Like Geoff said: my favourite blog post by you too. I often talk about balance in my health benefits of tea talks. Eat well, sleep well, drink tea and exercise. I love my food, love my tea but exercise, not my cup of tea, which is why I’m not Victoria Beckham sized :) Thanks again for a great arTEAcle.

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