Losing weight can be frustrating, especially for those who want to stay away from surgery or weight-loss drugs. If you’ve decided to keep your weight-loss plan as natural as possible, you may find it hard to know where to start. You may want to consider trying one of the many brands of dieter’s tea.
“Dieter’s tea” refers to any tea drink that promises weight loss. About a dozen brands are on the market, containing different ingredients and herbal blends. The one thing they have in common is the claim that drinking them will help you lose weight.
Clinical studies such as one done at the University of Birmingham in 2008 suggest that drinking green tea can boost your metabolism. According to the Birmingham study, drinking green tea raises your metabolic rate and improves your glucose tolerance and sensitivity to insulin, while also speeding up the rate at which you metabolize fat. This is because green tea contains more polyphenols, called “catechins,” than any other kind of tea. It also has higher levels of antioxidants, which protect against cell damage.
Diuretic and Laxative Teas
Plants such as angustofolia, buckthorn, cascara and locust plant contain chemicals that encourage the body to purge liquids. Teas also contain caffeine, which acts as a diuretic. Many dieter’s teas are a blend of teas and diuretic plants.
Other dieter’s teas contain senna (cassia angustifolia), which is a powerful natural laxative. Dr. Mark Babyatsky at EveryDayHealth.com explains that senna has a stimulant effect on your gastrointestinal tract, making it release nerve proteins called neuropeptides that regulate our systems. Neuropeptides aid elimination by increasing fluid production and intestinal contractions.
Some dieter’s teas contain plant extracts that claim to suppress the appetite and burn stored fat, such as ephedra, ephedrine, guarana, hoodia, kola nut and ma huang. Studies of these supplements, such as one done at the University of California in June 2005, found no evidence of increased weight loss associated with these extracts.
Pros and Cons
Pure green tea is clinically proven to have higher levels of antioxidants and catechins, so drinking it instead of sugary sodas and chemical-laden diet soft drinks has obvious health benefits. Still, according to Dr. Andrew Weil, you would have to drink 12 cups of tea a day to counteract the diuretic effects of the caffeine in the tea and get the amount of water your body needs to function well. When you don’t get enough water, your cells will take it from your bloodstream, which can put a strain on your heart. Drink no more than two cups a day of pure green tea, and make sure you also drink water.
Diuretic and laxative teas can kick-start a weight-loss program by showing you a three- to five-pound loss in the first week, but this is just excess water. The side effects of these teas include short-term diarrhea and possible long-term constipation. Diarrhea is caused by overproduction of neuropeptides and can lead to abdominal cramps and dangerous dehydration.
Also, according to Babyatsky, if you use dieter’s teas for longer than a few days or exceed the recommended dosage, you can drastically reduce the amount of neuropeptides in your system, which leads to serious constipation.
Stimulant teas can make you feel a little more energetic at first, but the University of California study found that taking the recommended dose of ephedra and guarana results in increased heart rate and blood pressure, and a negative effect on potassium levels and glucose. The report concludes that “such effects could be detrimental in persons with hypertension, atherosclerosis, or glucose intolerance, conditions that are strongly associated with obesity.”
References and ResourcesUniversity of Birmingham Green Tea Study
Diuretic Effects of Caffeine
Laxative Effects of Senna