As I’m writing this piece, I’m yoyoing between smirking and rolling my eyes at Instagram pictures of various ‘celebrities’ holding up bags of ‘fitness teas’ to honor them for their svelte figures or teas that they swear, are to be thanked for their peachy derrieres. I’ll tell you this right now – if any of this were in fact true, entire specialties in the medical community along with fitness trainers would be wiped out instantly. Tea is NOT a miracle cure. Weight CANNOT be lost quickly nor by wishful thinking and certainly NOT by tea.
Green Tea is touted to be the au naturel way to ridding your body of the blubber it has gained. Simply put, there is scientific backing to the ‘green tea burns fat’ claim due to Catechins elements that are found in it. In particular, EGCG or Epicallocatechin-3-gallate has been found to suppress fat build up in the body. This is done by inhibiting the enzyme catechol-Omethyltransferase, which in turn is responsible for breaking down the ‘fight and flight’ hormone in the body, Noradrenaline. The result is, noradrenaline is kept circulating in the bloodstream for longer and the body senses a need for fuel. It taps into fat stores to provide energy for the sudden ‘Fight and/or Flight’ that may occur.
But promising as it sounds, don’t be (or try not to be) fooled. A cup or even a few cups of green tea alone is not sufficient to show significant improvements in one’s body weight. This has been proven through several randomized controlled trial studies. A 1999 study conducted Dr. Dulloo at the University of Geneva found that green tea boosted energy expenditure by 4%. It translates into that if one burns 2,000 calorie a day, Green tea would be responsible to about 80 of those calories. The same energy provided by a small banana! And for those of you popping green tea extract pills in the morning, you’ll be even more disappointed because the isolated L-theanine (an amino acid) in these pills doesn’t cross the blood-brain barrier as effectively as that in brewed green tea, making it virtually useless.
Similarly, Matcha, which is the new-age green tea prodigy, isn’t all plus either. Matcha is made from green tea leaves and only differs in the grinding process. Because it is a concentrated form it contains higher doses of L-theanine and EGCG, but infusing it into lattes and ice creams does negate its limited benefits. Consume it in small quantities, like green tea to reap what it can offer.
Where green tea is directly useful when it comes to weight loss is, it reduces one’s appetite. And this property isn’t only restricted to green tea. Peppermint infused tea is also thought to be an appetite suppressor and the sweet flavor helps in satisfying a sweet tooth without unnecessary calories. Teas with cinnamon, bilberry tea and rose tea too have a similar effect and help in warding off cravings as well as boredom. So in those hours in between meals when you’re instinct is to reach out for a chocolatey-gooey snack, brew a cuppa and sip on it.
The added benefit is that they have a soothing and relaxing effect too, which is particularly useful whilst at work to beat the stress.
Stress is a massive weight-gain culprit; anxious munchies are all too familiar thanks to long work hours. Other teas that might help with weight loss by staving off stress are Rooibos teas that contain stress-busting flavonoids which blast away anxiety-ridden cravings or Sobacha, which is a buckwheat tea that contains fiber and can curb unwarranted greedy pangs. Guayusa, an Amazonian tea is another option to prevent that late afternoon emotional downswing ; it contains L-theanine that gives ones a non-jittery boost (unlike coffee), maintaining one’s alertness and focus.
But for any tea to show significant weight loss, it HAS to be paired with a clean, healthy diet and regular, moderate-intense exercise. The “TeaTox” tea fad is possibly the silliest and even most dangerous myths I’ve come across in the food industry today. The teas sold and/or promoted as ‘fitness teas’ tip your scales favorably because they exhibit laxative and/or diuretic properties. A diuretic is a substance, which encourages the kidneys to excrete more water from the body, and is usually prescribed by doctors in medical health conditions. A laxative, well, need I elaborate? Your weighing scales tip (or dip) because you’ve defecated or urinated in excess and not because you’ve burnt fat! The numbers on the weighing scales will go up soon after that next meal.
The teas that contain the laxatives, like Senna, are further marketed to be “bowel cleansers”. Sorry but since when did our intestines have to be sterile? They never were and they’re never meant to be; a healthy GI tract is teeming with bacteria. The bowels can however be unhealthy, if you put unhealthy foods down your gut but drinking teas with laxatives will only hurry out the crap you’ve ingested (pun intended and pardon my French!). Long-term use of these teas is highly detrimental to nutrition absorption and it’ll only leave you craving more and increase your risk of eating calorific and processed food items. Not to mention, you’ll feel immensely dehydrated and if the tea you consume further has a diuretic component in it as well then you could land yourself in hospital. All for just a few hours of fake weight loss. Moreover a fair few of these “fit teas” contain stimulants or unproven herbs that aren’t regulated by health authorities and may possibly cause allergic reactions making them riskier.
I beseech you; stop falling for this marketing ploy. There is only one foolproof and minimal/no risk way of weight loss. You know it so start directing your finances into purchasing and cooking good, wholesome produce and into a gym membership. Unlike the celebrities on social media who endorse these hideously toxic teas (not detoxing sadly), you won’t have an entourage to care for your body and it’s needs, nor will you make any money out of this consumption.
Dr. Daamini Shrivastav (BA.MBB Ch) heads marketing, media and communications at Conceive Gynaecology & Fertility Hospital. She’s a self-confessed ‘all-thingshealth’ buff and besides being a Pilates Instructor, she is also founder and owner of #theRYELife.