What is a detox tea diet?

May 23, 2024
What is a detox tea diet?

What is a weight-loss or ‘detox’ tea?

Weight-loss and detox teas have gained popularity in the dieting world, promising to cleanse the body, increase energy, reduce bloating and promote weight loss. We take a look at how these teas work, whether there is any science to back their supposed health benefits, and the potential risks of drinking them.

Browse our full range of health benefit guides and read more about popular diets, such as the juice diet and detox diet. Also, check out our healthy tea recipes, then discover the health benefits of green tearooibos teachamomile tea and ginger tea.

What is a detox tea diet?

These diet plans involve drinking particular blends of herbal teas at certain times of the day. Some plans also encourage changes to your normal diet.

How do weight-loss teas work?

Weight-loss teas contain ingredients such as senna, which has a laxative effect, causing an increase in the frequency of bowel movements. Some plans require you to drink two tea bags, one in the morning and one at night. These types of plans may include a daytime energising herbal tea, combined with a nighttime tea bag that includes a laxative.

Can a tea really help me lose weight?

Our bodies have a built-in detox system, which includes the liver, kidneys and gut. You do not need to follow a specific detox regime or drink a specific tea to kick-start the detox process – your body is constantly working hard to do this for you.

Although you may experience an initial weight loss, especially if a restricted eating plan is combined with drinking the tea, much of this weight loss will be water, stored glycogen and waste products. It is more than likely that the majority of this loss will be regained once normal eating patterns are resumed.

What can I eat when following a tea detox?

Some plans will advise you to change your eating patterns, while others suggest drinking the teas in addition to your normal diet. Most ‘detox’ diets limit caffeine, salt, sugar and alcohol, as well as refined and processed foods; however, other food groups may also be excluded, depending on the plan you follow. Ideally, you should eat a varied, balanced diet that includes fruit, vegetables, wholegrains and lean protein, such as eggs, dairy, fish, meat and beans and pulses.

What’s the evidence for weight-loss teas?

There is currently no scientific evidence to support the use of these products for weight loss. Although there is some research to suggest that green tea may result in a small weight loss in overweight or obese people, this is reported as statistically not significant. Any weight loss in this circumstance is thought to be thanks to the natural thermogenic properties provided by caffeine and plant compounds like catechins. That said, there is no reliable evidence to suggest that herbal teas and their ingredients, including those that have a diuretic or laxative effect, may aid fat loss, fat burning or prevent calorie absorption. It is likely that you may lose weight in the form of water, especially if there is a restricted eating plan recommended. However, this weight will almost certainly be regained when you finish the programme and return to eating normally.

Are weight-loss teas healthy? A nutritionist’s view…

Some of these products contain ingredients like senna, which has a laxative effect and stimulates a bowel movement. Taken in high doses over long periods of time, these ingredients may result in adverse effects.

The teas may also include ingredients that act as a diuretic and promote fluid loss through the production of urine. Ongoing and abnormal loss of fluids may lead to dehydration and potentially cause you to lose valuable minerals like sodium, potassium and calcium. Used in the long term, this might lead to complications because your muscles, heart and nerves use these important minerals (electrolytes) to function properly.

With no scientific support that consuming weight-loss teas is effective or sustainable, and with the prospect of most dieters regaining the weight they lost when they return to their regular eating patterns, these products are unlikely to be a weight-loss solution.

What are the potential side effects from weight-loss teas?

As noted above, longer-term use may impact the balance of electrolytes, (sodium, potassium and calcium) which may lead to muscle weakness and other side effects.

Some of the ingredients in weight-loss teas, like senna, may irritate the gut, causing cramps, discomfort and loose stools. Furthermore, long-term use of laxatives may cause issues with bowel regularity and function. Currently, the NHS advice is that, if you do wish to follow one of these programmes, you should limit your intake of a laxative-containing product. These should only be used occasionally and for a short period of time.

In addition, some of the herbal ingredients may interact with medications and reduce their efficiency. These may include, but are not limited to, steroids and certain heart medications. The laxative effect of some weight-loss teas may also cause medicines to move through the digestive system more quickly, which could prevent proper absorption, potentially reducing the efficiency of certain medications including the contraceptive pill.

Is there anyone who should avoid drinking weight-loss teas?

Those under 18 and the elderly should avoid using weight-loss teas. Furthermore, if you have an underlying health condition or are on medication, including the contraceptive pill, you should consult your GP or medical practitioner beforehand. In addition to this, anyone with emotional or psychological issues around food (including any history of eating disorders), or those with a low body mass index (BMI) should avoid using weight-loss teas.

Does a detox tea diet work?

With no scientific evidence to support their use, herbal weight-loss teas are not appropriate as a weight-loss strategy; however, if you do wish to consume them, ensure that you are also eating a healthy, balanced diet.

Looking for ways to maintain a healthy weight? Read our advice on how to lose weight and keep it off.

Please note, if you are considering attempting any form of diet, please consult your GP first to ensure you can do so without risk to health.

Now read:

How to eat a balanced diet
Six things you should consider before starting a diet
How much should I weigh?
How many calories should I eat?
Can you speed up your metabolism healthily?
All our popular diet guides

This article was last reviewed on 29 April 2024 by Kerry Torrens.

A registered nutritionist, Kerry Torrens is a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food magazine. Kerry is a member of the The Royal Society of Medicine, Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC), British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT).

All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

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