The best tea for fat loss is any plain unsweetened tea that you choose to drink instead of some other unhealthy beverages like these belly busters: sweet tea, soda, juice, smoothies, beer, etc.). (For more background, here are 7 Ways Tea Can Help You Lose Weight.)
Disappointed with that answer? Don’t be. It’s the honest truth: If you are looking for a magic bullet for weight loss, you won’t find it in a teacup. Drinking tea alone is no more effective than any other fat-loss technique if you don’t combine it with other healthy eating practices. In other words, a cuppa plain tea won’t cancel out the tea biscuits.
That said, unsweetened tea is second only to water as the weight loss beverage most recommended by nutritionists and other health experts. For good reason: Plain tea contains zero calories and is rich in natural compounds that have many health benefits.
But which is the best type of tea for fat loss? One could argue that green tea is tops simply because green tea has been clinically studied more than any other kind of tea. Many studies have shown that the bounty of antioxidants in green tea may reduce inflammation and lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Research suggests that special compounds called catechins and the caffeine in green tea stimulate thermogenesis and boost metabolism. Other studies correlate drinking several cups of green tea a day for longer than six weeks with weight loss.
Of course, any calorie-free tea can help with weight loss if it replaces a high-calorie beverage. To get the biggest fat-loss benefit from tea, pick your favorite from these tea types recommended by nutritionists and pair it with one of The 6 Best Diets That Will Make You Live Longer.
“One of the best teas that support fat loss is black tea,” says Tiffany Joy Yamut, a registered nurse, certified nutritionist, and co-founder of the keto diet resource Ketogenic Buddies. Black tea is made from leaves of the same plant from which green tea is made:
Camellia sinensis. The big difference is how it’s processed. Black tea leaves are exposed to air and allowed to oxidize into that trademark dark brown color. “A 2016 study published in Molecules showed that polyphenols in black tea can prevent obesity; one of its mechanisms is that it inhibits lipid (fat) absorption,” says Yamut. “I follow a low-carbohydrate diet and black tea suits my lifestyle well since it contains no carbs plus some caffeine to jumpstart my metabolism.” However, black tea isn’t for everyone, she cautions. “Tea has caffeine, which can worsen gastroesophageal reflux disease symptoms.”
“Any plain tea without sugar, honey, and syrups is great for weight loss,” says Amanda A Kostro Miller, RD, LDN, who serves on the advisory board for Fitter Living. “Not only can you get fluid for hydration, [but you’re also] filling up your stomach for only a few calories.” If you run out of tea, you can always hydrate for fat loss by knowing This Is How Much Water You Need to Drink for Weight Loss.
This traditional Chinese tea, also known as black dragon, is made from the leaves of the same plant that yields green and black teas. The only difference is that unlike green tea, oolong is allowed to oxidize, but not long enough to turn into black tea. The result is a flavor that is less bitter than black tea, lighter, and more “grassy.” Oolong tea has not been studied to the extent of green tea, but studies do point to its potential as a weight-loss beverage. In one study published in the Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine, 102 overweight people consumed 8 grams of oolong tea, or about four cups a day for six weeks. Measuring body fat and body weight levels, researchers found that 70% of the heaviest subjects lost a little more than 2 pounds while 22% lost more than 6.5 pounds. Also, 12% of subjects experienced a decrease in subcutaneous fat.
Plant-based nutritionist Stephanie Mantilla‘s favorite weight-loss tea is caffeine-free rooibos from South Africa. Studies have shown that the red tea “helps block the creation of fat cells and increase metabolism,” says the founder of Plant Prosperous.
Because the herbal tea is high in antioxidants and contains anti-inflammatory properties, one South African researcher is investigating its effect on fat stem cells. Dr. Hanél Sadie-Van Gijsen of the Division of Medical Physiology at Stellenbosch University is seeking to address the inflammation and oxidative stress within the fat tissue to relieve whole-body inflammation and insulin resistance. She says inflammation and oxidative stress are hallmarks of “dysfunctional fat,” and responsible for many of the diseases associated with obesity.
Peppermint is a time-honored home remedy for indigestion, and it is believed to be a metabolism booster. “This tea’s antifungal nature is also responsible for its ability to help improve digestive health,” says nutritionist Lisa Richards, author of The Candida Diet. “A cup of peppermint tea after a meal can help alleviate gas and bloating while also speeding along digestion and potentially metabolism through this means as well.”
Ginger tea is a favorite of Trista Best, RD, a registered dietitian with Balance Once Supplements, due to its robust flavor and antioxidant richness. “Ginger is unique for weight loss in that it contains compounds known as gingerols and shogaols, compounds that reduce the oxidative stress that exacerbates obesity,” she says. “This damage occurs at the cellular level and once those damaged cells replicate the body’s natural processes that maintain homeostasis can become disrupted leading to decreased metabolism, energy, and more.”
A number of experts told us that green tea, matcha (a powdered green tea), and green tea extract are considered to be some of the best for supporting healthy weight loss because they are particularly high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds including EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate).
“EGCG seems to help block the formation of new fat cells and may also reduce hunger and cravings, plus caffeine in green tea has appetite-decreasing effects,” says Dr. Josh Axe, D.N.M., CNS, founder of Dr.Axe.com.
This catechin abundant in green tea is also thought to improve recovery from exercise, boosting metabolism and potentially reducing fat storage. “Antioxidants found in green tea can support metabolic health by lowering oxidative stress, plus they keep blood sugar levels more balanced which is beneficial for controlling fat storage,” says Axe.
“The ECGC in green tea can deactivate the genetic triggers for diabetes and obesity,” says Kelly Choi, author of the Eat This, Not That! book The 7-Day Flat-Belly Tea Cleanse.
To learn how drinking green tea changed Choi’s life, read I Tried a Tea Cleanse for 7 Days and This is What Happened.