If you’re a tea drinker, you probably already know your cup is salubrious. “Tea has medicinal properties, and it is the second-most-consumed beverage in the world,” says Vicki Shanta Retelny, RDN, the Chicago-based host of the podcast Nourishing Notes.
Observational research has found that drinking two or three cups per day is associated with a lower risk of early death, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke, according to a review published in June 2019 in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research. On the other hand, the evidence for tea’s effects on weight loss hasn’t always been clear.
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Here’s what scientists know — and don’t know — about the effect of tea on body weight.
How Drinking Tea May Help With Weight Loss
If your beverages are typically high-calorie, swapping in tea may lead to weight loss. For example, trading a sugar-laden mocha for a zero-calorie tea at the coffee shop can easily save you a few hundred calories, notes Sarah Koszyk, RDN, the San Francisco–based author of 365 Snacks for Every Day of the Year.
Research suggests that tea may also play a direct role in weight loss. “Teas contain catechins, which can increase metabolism by stimulating the body to break fats down more quickly and burn more calories,” Koszyk says.
Catechins are a type of plant compound with powerful antioxidant properties, according to past research. Tea is especially rich in four catechins: epicatechin (EC), epigallocatechin (EGC), epicatechin gallate (ECG), and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Of these four, EGCG is the most abundant, and it is thought to contribute most to the many health benefits of tea, according to a past review.
There are many varieties of tea, and several of the traditional types — green, black, white, and oolong — are harvested from the dried leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Their unique flavors and properties are thanks to differences in processing, geographical location, and plant varieties. These differences also affect the nutritional composition of each tea, which means certain types may be better suited for weight loss than others.
Robust Research on Tea and Weight Loss Is Lacking
That said, many studies look at the effects of tea in capsule or tablet form, which may provide study participants with a more concentrated dose of plant compounds like EGCG than a typical bag of tea would. Other studies …….