Is Tea Good for Weight Loss?

By: Marissa Donovan M.S., R.D.

Herbal Chamomile Health Tonic

There's lots of hype around tea's benefits—especially when it comes to drinking tea and weight loss. Next to water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world, and for good reason. Tea is a versatile beverage that can be served hot or cold. Tea also comes in a variety of flavors and it can help quench thirst, wake you up or help you relax. While there are many varieties sold at the store, true teas include green, oolong, black and white. Each true tea is derived from the Camellia sinensis plant, but the tea leaves are processed differently, which accounts for different colors, flavors and health benefits. But can drinking tea actually help you lose weight?
Related: The Best Foods for Weight Loss

Can Tea Boost Your Metabolism?

Matcha Tea Latte

Pictured Recipe: Matcha Green Tea Latte
Tea, specifically green tea, has been touted for its ability to boost metabolism. While tea does contain caffeine and catechins (natural antioxidants said to increase energy expenditure and burn fat), research shows mixed results regarding the use of tea for weight loss and weight maintenance. A 2009 meta-analysis published in the International Journal of Obesity linked catechins in tea to a modest—about three pounds over 12 weeks—weight loss. However, a more recent review study found drinking green tea was not associated with significant weight loss. And, since many studies used concentrations of catechins much greater than what you would get from drinking green tea, further research is needed to support claims of tea aiding in weight loss through increased metabolism. The upside? Drinking unsweetened tea does help keep you hydrated, which can assist with weight loss by preventing overeating caused by mistaking thirst for hunger.

Health Benefits to Drinking Tea

apple cider vinegar tonic

Pictured Recipe: Apple Cider Vinegar Tonic with Green Tea

It may not be a magical metabolism booster and weight-loss aid, but tea is still a pretty healthy beverage! Drinking tea, including herbal teas, has a plethora of proven health benefits. In fact, different teas may help with the following:
  • Settle your stomach 
  • Keep your heart healthy
  • Lower your risk of diabetes
  • Help you focus
  • Improve your sleep
  • Decrease your risk of stroke.
So even if tea doesn't help you lose weight, there are plenty of other reasons to drink up. Drinking black tea, which is high in flavonoids, was tied to improved cardiovascular function in a small study in the Journal of Hypertension. Both black and green tea were shown to decrease risk of stroke and coronary heart disease in another study from Food & Function. And a 13-year study of nearly 40,000 people in the Netherlands found that those who drank tea frequently had a lower risk of heart disease-related death compared to people who didn't drink tea. While the four varieties of true teas tend to provide highest concentrations of antioxidants, herbal teas have also been linked to better heart health (hibiscus tea in particular) and other benefits.
Try It At Home: Healthy Green Tea Recipes

Bottom Line

If you do drink tea, be sure not to cancel out some of the benefits of by dumping sugar or honey into your morning or afternoon cup. A little bit of sweetener is OK if that's your preference, but order a green tea latte out and you could be looking at 30 grams (more than 7 teaspoons) of sugar—about half of which is added sugar (some comes naturally from milk). Bottled iced teas, sweet tea, chai tea and matcha tea lattes all may contain lots of added sugar. Added sugar adds extra calories without any nutrition, and too much added sugar can hinder your weight-loss efforts. When ordering tea, whether hot or iced, opt for unsweetened versions to reap the most nutritional benefit from your tea. And, remember, while tea may not yet be proven to directly aid in weight loss, it is a good choice to include for its countless other health and hydration benefits.
Learn More:
4 Teas to Drink for Better Health
1-Day Clean Eating Meal Plan
Can Apple Cider Vinegar Help You Lose Weight?