Is green tea good for weight loss?

Research in humans and animals points to a resounding sort of. What that means:

Theres evidence that green tea can help you lose weight

A number of small but respectable clinical trials have found that overweight people who had green teaeither in drinkable form or in extract formlost more weight than people who didnt have any. Science being science, there are also a few studies that showed no benefit from green tea drinks or supplements. Overall, I would say it may assist modestly, says Kristin Kirkpatrick, R.D.N., consultant for Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine for the Cleveland Clinic.

In studies that found a weight-loss benefit in green tea, there was a trend toward weight loss or tea drinkers lost significantly more. But its not usually a total transformation. One small study conducted at Oklahoma State University, for instance, found that people who drank green tea or took green tea extract lost about 1.3 pounds more over 8 weeks than people who drank water. Some studies suggest even decaf green tea may have a benefit.

Green tea may even help you lose belly fat

An older study found that among people who ate regularly and exercised 180 minutes a week, those who drank a beverage with the most biologically active compounds in green tea, called catechins, had a greater percentage change in abdominal fat (belly fat) than did people who got a drink with no catechins.

Why it might work

There are a number of theories on why green teaespecially the main catechin called epigallocatechin gallatemight help you out a bit if youre looking to lose weight.

Its possible that catechins in green tea may actually inhibit carbohydrate digestion and absorption, Kirkpatrick says, citing a report in the journal Scientific Reports that showed lower carb absorption after people downed a green tea extract.

I think some of the most promising ones are looking at green teas effects on the microbiome, she says. Research is increasingly finding that it alters the guts microbiome, and those changes could be what makes it helpful for dropping pounds.

Matcha may help, too

Kirkpatrick gets a lot of questions from her clients on whether trendy matchathe powdered version of green teais as helpful as the green tea leaves that come in teabags or as loose tea. There havent been a ton of studies on matcha alone, she says. But adds that its reasonable to think its just as useful, as green tea comes out of the leaves of the plant, and matcha is made of the ground-up plants.

While numerous studies have looked at green tea extracts taken as supplements, Kirkpatrick urges people to get their green tea from the actual tea itself; in the most whole form possible.

Its not just about weight loss

There are more reasons than weight to drink green tea. Kirkpatrick points out the impressive benefits being found regarding green tea and the prevention of cancer. And then there are benefits in possibly preventing heart disease, potential memory benefits and other health boosters in the green stuff.

Weight loss is so multifaceted; green tea is not going to guarantee weight loss, Kirkpatrick says. But as long as youre not getting a sugared-up version of the stuff; green tea doesnt interfere with any medications youre taking; and youre not looking for it to be a weight-loss panacea, then go ahead and drink up.