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Tea and Weight Loss

by Lainie Petersen

Tea can help make this less intimidating
Several years ago I lost a great deal of weight. While there were several factors that led to my weight loss, the loss coincided with my decision to start drinking tea instead of high-calorie beverages. As a result, lots of people have asked me about using tea for weight loss.

The Idea

The notion that tea is good for losing weight isn’t a new one: For years I’ve been seeing ads promoting so-called “diet teas” that will help people shed 50 pounds after a single gulp.

(Not really, but you get the picture.)

Tabloids often feature articles on “green tea” or “oolong” diets that encourage readers to drink lots of tea for weight loss while following a calorie restricted meal plan. Unfortunately, many people end up disillusioned by these plans and products when they don’t work.

The Science

Responsible scientists and medical professionals are in full agreement: There is no magic bullet for weight loss. No matter how much tea you drink, if you don’t adjust your eating and exercise habits, you won’t lose weight. While some studies may show a modest weight loss in individuals who regularly drink tea, the key here is that the weight lost is modest: Certainly not enough to cause the kind of weight loss that a significantly overweight person needs to achieve to get healthy.

The Scoop

So which is it? Does tea work for weight loss or not?

My own experience showed me that tea can be an effective weight loss tool, but not because there is some magical compound in tea. Instead, the reason why tea can help some people lose weight is that it is a delicious beverage that is essentially calorie-free.

The Great Switcheroo

Here’s the thing: I’m a foodie and wine lover. I’ve also been known to enjoy a latte or three. The trouble is that wine and lattes contain calories (quite a few of them). In fact, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2009 showed that its subjects drank 20% of their daily calories: Juice, milk, soda, alcohol… it all adds up.

So when I discovered tea, good tea, I realized that an exquisite oolong could provide me with the enjoyment of drinking a good glass of wine with none of the calories. I also found that a stout Assam or Keemun made for a tasty way to begin my day, so I could leave the lattes behind.

By making these beverage switches, I was cutting thousands of calories per week. Combined with healthier eating and exercise, the pounds started to come off.

Curb Those Cravings

Flavored teas and tisanes also play a role in weight loss efforts. Naturally sweet herbals, such as rooibos or honeybush, don’t need added sugar and can help satisfy a sweet tooth, particularly if flavored with chocolate, hazelnut or vanilla. Fruit tisanes are likewise both sweet and very low in calories and sugar. If a craving hit, I found that drinking a flavored tea or tisane often took care of it.

Have you used tea to improve your health or lose weight? Let us know about it here!