Keeping the needle on your bathroom scale from edging up can be quite a struggle. While nothing can take the place of a healthy, balanced diet and plain old exercise (sorry, we had to say it!), there are some allies you can enlist in the battle of the bulge. And among the chart toppers is white tea!
All tea – white, green, and black – is brewed from the leaves of the plant called Camellia sinensis and contains many beneficial polyphenolic components such as epigallocatechin gallate, epigallocatechin, epicatechin, and epicatechin gallate. And of all these teas, white tea is the least processed form and made from very young tea leaves and leaf buds. Since processing reduces the amount of beneficial catechins in tea, white tea has a comparatively high content – even more than green tea.1 2
Let’s take a look at how this rare tea can help you manage your weight.
When we consume more food than we use, it gets stored as fat so that we can use it for energy in the future. Cells known as preadipocyte cells are transformed by the body into fats cells or adipocytes during this process. One study found that when these precursors of fat cells were treated with an extract of white tea, it inhibited the formation of new fat cells. Basically, the white tea extracts were able to reduce the expression of genes linked to the development of new fat cells.3
Our bodies break down or oxidize fat to release energy. And fat oxidation is linked to your weight gain, with studies finding that lean people have higher fat oxidation and obese people have low fat oxidation.4 And this is where your cup of white tea comes in. Research indicates that caffeine present in white tea can stimulate fat oxidation at least in part by activating the central nervous system.5 Research has also shown that white tea stimulates the breakdown of fat from mature fat cells.6
Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a polyphenol present in white tea, can even hamper the absorption of calories by your body. One study looked at the effect of this polyphenol on mice that were fed a high-fat diet. EGCG hindered the accumulation of body fat and resulted in more calories being excreted through stool. While this study looked at EGCG extracted from green tea, white tea has a comparatively higher concentration of this beneficial compound.7
Your metabolic rate is the rate at which your body burns calories. A fast metabolism means that you burn more calories when you rest or engage in any activity. This is partly genetic. But your body senses dieting or the restriction of food as starvation and responds by slowing down your metabolism.8 It also adapts to weight loss by reducing the metabolic rate.9 That’s why it can sometimes be tough to lose weight and maintain weight loss. But white tea may be able to counter this decrease in the metabolic rate as tea polyphenols can increase the rate at which calories are burnt.10
Having a cup of white tea after your meals can help amp up your weight loss efforts. The Chinese and Japanese, for instance, traditionally serve tea after meals.11 But make sure you ditch the milk and sugar! It has been reported that compounds known as caseins which are found in milk proteins can bind with tea polyphenols. This might make it more difficult for your body to use the beneficial polyphenols that tea provides. In any event, you can save a few calories by holding the milk when you have your white tea.12 Also, avoid calorie-dense sugar and flavor with a squeeze of lime when you have your cup of white tea.