If you’re a tea drinker, you know the benefits of a cup. “Tea is medicinal, and it’s the second most consumed beverage in the world,” says Vicky Shanta Retelny, host of the Chicago-based Nourishing Notes podcast.
Observational studies have linked two to three cups a day to a lower risk of early death, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke, according to a review published in June 2019 in the Journal of Molecular Nutrition and Food Research. On the other hand, the evidence for the effect of tea on weight loss is not always clear.
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Here’s what scientists know and don’t know about tea’s effects on body weight.
How does drinking tea help you lose weight?
If your drink is usually high in calories, switching to tea can help you lose weight. For example, trading in a sugary mocha at a coffee shop for zero-calorie tea can save you hundreds of calories, notes Sarah Koszyk, San Francisco-based author of 365 Snacks Every Day of the Year.
Studies have shown that tea plays a direct role in weight loss. “Tea contains catechins, which increase metabolism by causing the body to break down fat faster and burn more calories,” says Koszyk.
Past research has shown that catechins are plant compounds with powerful antioxidant properties. Tea is rich in four catechins: epicatechin (EC), epigallocatechin (EGC), epicatechin gallate (ECG), and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Of the four, EGCG is the most abundant, and a past review suggests that it contributes the most to tea’s many health benefits.
According to Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Their unique taste and characteristics are due to the differences in processing, geographical location and plant varieties. These differences affect the nutritional value of each tea, meaning that some types of tea are better for weight loss than others.