When attempting to lose weight, I think it’s pretty safe to say that most of us would love to have an easy solution. Eat this or drink that (like weight loss teas or green teas)- make one little, simple change and BAM the pounds just start falling off. No extra effort needed!
Of course, if it were that easy then we’d all be exactly the size we wanted.
Now, I don’t really bring it up here on the blog much (mainly because it isn’t particularly relevant) but I know my way around tea. While I don’t consider myself to be an expert (and certainly wouldn’t have the audacity to call myself a “master”), I am fairly knowledgeable about it. I’ve spent several years as an assistant and student to several tea masters in New York and also worked at a prominent Japanese teashop for a year as well. I’ve assisted with tea tastings and hosted some of my own. That’s why, for the life of me, I can’t figure out where this hype for drinking tea, green tea, “skinny tea” etc for weight loss is coming from.
I’ll start with my own anecdotes and work my way to actual studies and you know, “science stuff”.
First off, when I drink green tea I eat more.
When I studied tea, we drank a lot of different green tea varieties and one thing we always did before testing a tea or doing a tasting was eat. Similarly, we always advised that clients coming in for a tasting do the same before they arrived. Why? Because a strong tea high in caffeine and tannins on an empty stomach can make you feel shaky and ill like nobody’s business. I’ve made the mistake a few times and unless I got food in my body ASAP, it never ended well. I experienced it more often when I worked at the Japanese teashop because we had work schedules and shifts and if I didn’t get enough at my lunch break to keep me full for the next 4-5 hours of my shift I would quickly start degrading and would start feeling very sick and weak. In most Asian and other Eastern countries it’s just understood that you drink tea with meals.
Based on my own personal experiences (and the experiences I know from other tea students and enthusiasts) I can’t help but wonder where on earth all this “tea for weight loss” is coming from. I got tired of reading completely unscientific and questionably cited articles about it.
In doing my own research on the subject I found several things: most studies and experiments done on the subject were done on extremely small groups (around 60-100 people on average) and most studies were done on the effects green tea has on weight maintenance for people that had previously lost weight. Along that vein a few studies supported the hypothesis that green tea helped with maintenance but most were inconclusive or did not support it. There is even speculation that green tea weight loss could also be impacted based on ethnicity (Caucasians being less affected by it than Asians) as well as your initial daily caffeine intake.
When investigating “skinny teas” or companies, brands and diets based around “weight loss teas” I found that- surprise- they advise you to workout, eat a clean diet, lots of water and avoid certain foods. In reading a lot of reviews from people that had success or recommended these products, many of them said that they used these teas instead of drinking soda or other sugary beverages. Well duh– of course you’re going to lose weight if you suddenly make all these changes for 2 weeks! I also saw some criticism from people saying that they were hungry all the time… Another thing I should note is that most of the “teas” are not actually tea. To get all official here, I’d like to explain that true “tea” is made from the leaf of the Camellia sinensis plant. Sorry herbal teas- you may make for a tasty beverage, but you aren’t actually tea!
What is the point that I’m getting at here? First off, pay attention and always be skeptical of quick and simple weight loss solutions. Make sure to check sources and references! Second, tea may be good for you but also is not a weight loss solution. Despite there being some data that it may help, there really isn’t any sort of strong, definitive information to support it. And third, if you like drinking it, then drink it and enjoy it as a tasty, healthy drink and leave it at that- quit trying to make everything so complicated!