Weight loss teas have been taking social media by storm. If you follow any celebrity on Instagram, it’s likely you’ve been marketed a weight loss, or detox tea. These teas are marketed as miracle products, with the ads containing fit bodies, flat stomachs and claims of a loss of 10 pounds in a week.
Before you put complete faith in the celebrities marketing these teas, there are a few important things to know about the actual products, which are unlikely to be included in the advertising caption.
Before we look into how well Teatoxes work, we have to understand what they’re doing, or at least what they are claiming to do.
A popularly marketed brand, LyfeTea (to be drunk at night), claims that its detox tea “allows your body to rid itself of toxins that may have been building up over many years. This aids in excess energy, boosts metabolism and allows impurities to leave your body.” Its counterpart, LyfeTea cleanse (drunk in the morning), “gives you energy and elevates your mood. It will boost your energy level without the aid of artificial ingredients.”
Across nearly all brands, the tea you drink in the morning claims to energize you and quicken your metabolism, whereas the tea you drink directly before bed claims to clear out all those bad toxins that are preventing weight loss.
The actual ingredients across brands vary widely, but the commonalities in their function are astonishing. Here is a breakdown of some common ingredients and their functions:
Most, if not all, of the energizing morning teas have caffeine in them. Caffeine consumption through the use of these teas could be the cause of the immediate change that many experience when they drink the tea. Obviously, caffeine wakes the body up, and causes you to feel more energized. Not necessarily miracle work, but caffeinated teas have been used widely instead of coffee, so this idea is nothing out of the ordinary.
Yep, that’s right. The ingredient responsible for the “detoxing” qualities of the teas “drunk at night” is a plant with laxative properties. The consumption of these plants can trigger a flatter-appearing stomach, a lighter feeling, and what looks on a scale as quick weight loss. In a word, it looks like a miracle.
There are not too many downsides to the consumption of caffeine through these teas that differ in any way from its consumption in other forms, such as through coffee. However, there are still some pros and cons to the consumption of caffeine, which you can read more about in this article.
The main issue with the diet teas is the laxatives. The sudden weight change experienced by many who use these teas as a form of weight loss is actually just a loss of water weight. Extreme loss of water weight without the proper compensation can lead to dehydration, and all the negative effects that brings with it.
In small print on some of the websites, companies acknowledged this, encouraging users to consume more water when using the tea. Plus, once you stop using the tea, all that water you lost in the beginning will come back, which doesn’t give you much incentive to stop after the recommended 28 day cleanse.
Dehydration isn’t the only downside. The laxative qualities in the plants interacts with the gut in a different way than fiber does, which is why it’s not bad for you to eat fibrous foods. These qualities interact with your gut in a way that can disrupt how your digestive system actually works, and cause it to stop functioning without the help of the tea. That’s right, you’ll need more help with doing the do because your body has stopped doing it for you. All teas discourage prolonged use for this exact reason.
Some users have found it difficult to stop the course for this exact reason, and have seen the harm it can do, as illustrated in this article about the risks of diet teas. There have even been a few class action lawsuits against detox tea companies, for use of the herbs senna and guarana, a common ingredient in energy drinks. Both ingredients have laxative qualities, and are still in use.
One lawsuit argues that senna stimulates the large intestine instead of the small intestine, where nutrient absorption takes place. Herbal laxatives might even cause you to gain weight in the long term, by slowing metabolism, though the research on this front is shaky. Both ingredients are also all-natural, so it’s important that that label doesn’t fool you into thinking that something is safe for consumption.
Where does this leave us?
The notion of a body cleanse or detox is a relatively new one. It makes sense in simple terms that with all the unnatural ingredients that are in our food, we should clean our body out every once in a while, but that’s not entirely true. The large issue with this claim is the fact that your body naturally detoxes, and interfering with its natural process can do more harm than good.
Overall, the research on the weight loss benefits of any and all of the ingredients used in weight loss teas is relatively none, and that which has been done has been inconclusive at best. The benefits of the use of teas is typically more easily explained as a correlation between sudden weight loss, or a better appearing body, and motivation to adopt a healthier lifestyle.
All in all, it’s best to read up on what you’re consuming, and stick to tried and true methods of weight loss. If you really need tea, I recommend green tea, which has great health benefits, without the downsides. Health.com has an excellent article going more in depth on the truth behind detox teas, and what you should know before paying money for them. In terms of healthy and effective weight loss, there really are no shortcuts.