There is no single product that can revolutionize weight loss and make you drop pounds overnight without much effort or planning.
But, hot drinks can play a key role in weight loss. They’re a powerful way to help you feel full and to keep you hydrated. Some may even promote weight loss directly, to a degree.
To get this outcome, you need to choose the right beverages. After all, many drinks are laden with sugar or excess calories. So, does oolong tea help you lose weight?
The simple answer is yes.
In this post, we examine how this happens – along with how you can get the best weight loss benefits from the tea.
Oolong Tea and Weight Loss
Oolong tea can impact your weight in a number of ways. Some are direct, others indirect.
- Behaviorally. Hot drinks take time to consume and they can be satisfying. This makes them a great alternative to a snack. Oolong tea is especially powerful as it is almost calorie free.
- Energy Expenditure. Oolong tea may slightly increase the energy your body uses. Most of this impact comes from the caffeine. However, other components may play a role as well.
- Inhibiting Fat and Carb Absorption. Some theories suggest that tea can reduce how much fat and carbs we absorb from food. This could make weight loss easier.
- Promote Fat Burning. Some compounds in oolong tea may increase the rate of fat burning. This can make weight loss easier and reduce the risk of gaining weight.
- A Source of Water. Oolong tea is also a good way to keep you hydrated. You are mostly just consuming water after all. Getting enough water is significant for promoting weight loss (1,2). This is the main reason why lemon water helps some people to lose weight.
These outcomes aren’t just theoretical either. Instead, they’re supported by research.
Oolong Tea Weight Loss Results
One study had participants consume 8 g of oolong tea each day for 6 weeks. 70% of the severely obese participants lost more than 1 kg (2.2 pounds) in this period, with 22% losing more than 3 kg (6.6 pounds). Outcomes were similar for other groups too.
While the weight loss levels weren’t dramatic, there were no other changes to diet or lifestyle at the same time. Researchers suggested this might occur through improvements to lipid metabolism (3).
An animal study also found that the polyphenols from black, green or oolong tea could promote fat loss, even during a diet designed for weight gain (4).
Compounds in Oolong Tea
The previous studies suggest that oolong tea can promote some weight loss. But, they’re incomplete. Much more research is needed before we understand all of the patterns and effects.
So, let’s turn to the research on individual components in oolong tea. There are three key areas to consider.
Caffeine in Tea and Weight Loss
Oolong tea doesn’t normally contain as much caffeine as coffee. So, the weight loss impacts may not be as strong. But, the presence of other compounds may make up that difference. Many people also prefer oolong tea and it is a good alternative for many situations.
Tea Polyphenols and Weight Loss
Another important type of compound in oolong tea is the polyphenols. The term refers to a class of micronutrients that we get from plants. They are high in antioxidants, offering many potential health benefits.
This category also includes another class of molecules, called catechins. These have been directly connected to fat oxidation and energy expenditure. Research shows that the combination of catechins and caffeine is also more powerful than either caffeine or catechins independently (16,17).
This suggests decaffeinated oolong tea would not offer the same benefits as tea that contains caffeine.
Studies also show that consuming tea high in catechins can lead to decreased body fat and improved maintenance of weight loss (18,19). As with caffeine, these patterns can make weight loss somewhat easier and more sustainable.
EGCG in Oolong Tea
One specific polyphenol of interest is EGCG, which stands for epigallocatechin gallate. You’ve probably heard about this before, as it’s a key catechin from green tea. This is also why you see green tea extract in so many weight loss supplements.
EGCG has been the subject of many research studies and has been associated with many different health benefits. These include improving metabolic health, decreasing heart disease risk (20) and even fighting cancer (21). The site Self Hacked highlights many of the benefits in more detail.
Here, we’re just focusing on one advantage – weight loss.
EGCG helps increase levels of norepinephrine in the body. This is a hormone that controls the breakdown of fat cells. When norepinephrine levels are increased, the breakdown of fat will also increase (22).
Many studies have shown a connection between green tea or EGCG and weight loss (23). As always, more research is needed but the relationship is a promising one. It may be a key reason why tea is so relevant to weight loss.
Best Way to Brew Oolong Tea
Tea offers health benefits, regardless of how you make it. But, there is considerable debate about the healthiest methods for brewing tea.
When it comes to health overall, conventional wisdom suggests that longer brewing times lead to more healthy compounds in the tea itself. But, this is an area of debate. The key problem is that higher temperatures and longer steeping times can get more compounds out of the tea – but may also degrade those same compounds.
- One study suggested that a short immersion in hot water offered the highest antioxidant levels for black tea (24).
- A second study suggested that the best technique may be to use a hot infusion followed by ice (25). This was designed to get the healthy compounds out of the tea faster, without allowing heat to degrade them.
- Research for weight loss suggests that lower temperatures and shorter steeping times help to retain the catechins that are relevant for weight loss (26). This study suggested that steeping in 194°F for 3 minutes was better than 212°F water and was more powerful than a longer steeping time.
- A 2013 study also showed that hot tea was associated with a lower BMI and waist circumference, while iced tea was associated with the reverse (27).
All of these studies have their own limitations and don’t consider the same variables. But, they do suggest two patterns.
- A short steeping time and a lower temperature OR a higher temperature and rapid cooling help ensure the highest levels of beneficial compounds in the final drink. The two systems haven’t been compared, so it’s not clear which is best.
- Hot tea may promote more weight loss than iced tea. This impact is probably based on behavior rather than the compounds – especially as iced tea is frequently sweetened and is often consumed in a different setting.
While more research is needed, the most powerful answer may be steeping at around 194°F for 3 minutes. This gives you a high level of compounds and a hot drink.
But, be aware that the study in question only considered two steeping times and two temperatures. There is no information about whether other temperatures or durations are better or worse.
Oolong Tea Precautions
Tea is considered a safe drink and is commonly consumed. So, there isn’t much to worry about.
Even so, there can be side effects if you drink a large amount. This can include abdominal spasms, loss of appetite, headaches and nausea. Excessive consumption can also decrease iron absorption, due to the polyphenols present.
But, these are most likely if you’re drinking more than 5 cups of tea per day. Even then, many people experience no issues at all.
Also, oolong tea does contain caffeine. You may need to limit your intake if you are sensitive to caffeine.
Green Tea vs Oolong Tea
Of course, oolong tea isn’t the only option for weight loss. Many of the observed effects apply to other beverages, including various types of tea.
And, why not? All tea comes from the same plant – Camellia sinensis (anything that doesn’t isn’t technically tea, although we do use the term). The differences between green tea and oolong tea are simply the result of processing, as tea leaves are naturally green when they’re picked.
- Leaves used for green tea are then heated, dried and rolled. That process dramatically reduces oxidation and breaks up the structure of the plant cells.
- Oolong tea involves keeping the leaves under conditions that allow for oxidation. The leaves aren’t rolled either, so the cell structure remains intact.
- In general, oolong tea is considered partially oxidized, while green tea is non-oxidized. The oxidation plays a role in the color difference between the types.
- Other teas use different techniques. The site Tea Source examines these, along with the implications for appearance and taste. Examine.com also offers more details about the specific steps.
The differences mean that the various teas contain many of the same compounds, making them all relevant for health. But, the teas aren’t entirely the same.
For example, green tea is typically higher in EGCG content, which may make it more powerful for weight loss. It has also been researched more extensively, especially for weight loss. On the other hand, green tea tends to be lower in caffeine.
This suggests that both types of tea can promote weight loss. The best choice may simply depend on personal preferences and perhaps the time of day.
- Many people use oolong tea earlier in the day as an alternative to coffee.
- Green tea is particularly relevant later on, reducing stress and helping people to unwind.
Where to Buy Oolong Tea
Oolong tea is a popular drink. As such, it’s easy to buy. Many grocery stores will have a large selection of products and brands to choose from. You may also have some local stores that specialize in tea.
You can also purchase online. This is actually more powerful, as you can easily compare the products and there is a much broader selection.
To do so, you could just look for a site specializing in tea – and there are many of those. But, I recommend getting started on Amazon. It has a large selection of oolong tea products, including many reliable brands.
Amazon also features reviews from users. You can read these to get a sense of what the tea tastes like. This is a powerful way to make sure you get tea that you enjoy. You can also check out the various tea reviews on Pinkibag for in-depth information on many different products.
The same patterns are true for other types of tea too. So, you can turn to Amazon for green tea and there is a wide selection available. You can also do this for options that aren’t technically tea, like rose tea and yerba mate.
Does Oolong Tea Help You Lose Weight?
Oolong tea is no miracle solution for weight loss, nor should it be.
Instead, it is a simple and healthy way to help you lose weight in the long-term. It can promote weight loss in multiple ways, such as through the behavioral impacts, the caffeine and the other compounds present.
The tea is also simply a good habit, one that may improve your health in other ways. If nothing else, oolong tea is a great alternative to sugary drinks and tends to be inexpensive. It’s also much more reliable than the latest fad diet or weight loss teas that are mostly laxatives in disguise.
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