Swiss researchers studying yerba mate tea benefits have found some great news: Drinking chilled tea may do wonders for fat loss. While the nutritional goodies found in tea are well known (it improves heart health, boosts immunity, and lowers blood sugar), the researchers decided to examine whether the body responds differently to the drink’s temperature.
A team from the University of Fribourg gathered 23 healthy adults and instructed them to sip a cup of unsweetened yerba mate tea, a caffeinated, bitter-tasting brew from South America that’s comparable to green tea. They first drank the yerba mate tea at 37°F, then were told the following day to drink another cup at 131°F.
In both cases, the volunteers were monitored a half hour before drinking the tea and 90 minutes after. The authors of the study took note of the test subjects’ cardiovascular responses (such as heart rate and blood flow), along with their oxygen consumption and fat oxidation, a process that burns stored fat and releases energy.
The research team discovered that iced yerba mate tea produced more than twice the amount of energy expenditure (aka calorie burning) compared to hot tea (8.3 percent versus 3.7 percent). “Moreover, cold tea promotes fat oxidation and reduces the metabolic load on the heart,” the researchers stated in a press release. “If this result is confirmed when the tea is consumed over a longer time, then drinking cold caffeinated tea could turn out to be useful within a weight-loss program.”
“I am not surprised by these findings, since there have been similar findings with ice-cold water where consumption triggered an increase in metabolism,” says Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, author of Belly Fat Diet for Dummies ($14.39, Amazon).
She explains that in order for the body to digest fluid, the beverage needs to reach body temperature. “In doing so, it requires energy — meaning calories — so the cold beverage would increase calorie burn as it gets warmed,” Palinski-Wade continues. “Therefore, this increase in metabolism can help to burn up stored energy, raising the demand for energy stores to burn. And since fat is stored energy, as metabolism rises, the need to metabolize fat for energy may rise as well.”
Even better, Palinski-Wade adds that tea keeps its beneficial antioxidant properties whether enjoyed hot or cold. “So for those looking to improve body composition and body weight, switching from hot tea to iced tea may be beneficial, as long as you don’t sweeten it with lots of added sugar.”
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