You know green tea is good for you—and have probably even heard that if offers some weight-loss benefits. Green tea’s benefits come from all those powerful compounds, called catechins, plus green tea has some serious antioxidant power. In fact, green tea delivers more antioxidants than any other type of tea. It’s overall healthfulness is on point, too, with research showing it has heart health benefits, could help to prevent Alzheimer’s, promotes healthy skin, and maybe even have anti-cancer properties.
And yes, green tea can help with weight loss. Research shows the benefit comes not just from the catechins, but also the caffeine—the two work together to produce weight-loss effects. For example, in one study of healthy men, those who took a supplement with green tea extract EGCG and caffeine upped their calorie burn significantly (4 percent), and also their fat metabolism by 41 percent, whereas the caffeine-only group boosted their fat burn only and just by 33 percent. Other studies support this mechanism, too, showing that green tea’s weight loss benefit comes from increasing calorie and fat metabolism, as well as preventing some of the absorption of fat and sugar, thus decreasing calorie intake.
Although the research around weight loss is positive, interestingly and unfortunately, the science that has looked at green tea helping to keep lost weight off just isn’t there. A review study published earlier this year in the journal Nutrients concluded that there isn’t evidence that green tea—or the EGCG within it—helps with maintaining weight loss.
But what about other teas—are they helpful when it comes to weight loss, too? Turns out that although green tea seems to get the lion’s share of the spotlight, black tea has some very promising weight loss research behind it. Also referred to as “fermented tea,” black tea’s polyphenols are thought to be more effective than those in green tea. And oolong, which is “semi-fermented,” may also potentially have more powerful polyphenols. There are a few ways that black tea helps with weight loss: its polyphenols inhibit fat and sugar digestion and absorption, which essentially then prevents those calories from being absorbed into your body. Black tea polyphenols also promote fat metabolism and help quell oxidative stress, which contributes to inflammation. There’s also some newer research in animals that suggests the polyphenols in black tea have the potential to shift the gut microbiome in a way that can encourage weight loss, and also boost the body’s ability to metabolize fat.
Drinking tea—be it green, black, or oolong—can give you an extra edge when you’re trying to lose a few pounds. But we mean it when we say just an extra edge. It won’t melt the pounds away. From an overall health standpoint, though, green tea is still thought to be best for warding off some chronic conditions.