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The Detox Tea Trend

Social media is full of unsolicited advice on health and lifestyle. Trending recently is consuming detox drinks to lose weight. These drinks are often promoted by celebrities, and aggressively marketed by manufacturing companies who pay for their ads to appear in social media feeds. Many of these weight loss drinks are marketed as teas, but do they work and are they safe?

Detox tea for weight loss? Debatable.

Detox tea for weight loss? Debatable. Adair Hoover, ©2019, Clemson Extension

The most common ingredients in detox teas are: Senna, Caffeine and Guarana.

  • Senna is marketed as an herbal laxative that aids in intestinal cleansing. However, when Senna is consumed too frequently it causes vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration.
  • Detox teas almost always include caffeine, which is an appetite suppressant that increases urine and stool elimination.
  • Guarana, a dietary supplement and stimulant, is four times as potent as caffeine.

Senna, caffeine, and guarana are the ingredients that supposedly detox the body in these “magical” weight loss teas.

If you are intrigued with the idea of drinking tea to lose weight consider the following.

  1. Weight loss from a detox tea is probably just a temporary loss in water weight. A pound of weight is lost after excreting 2 cups of water. That quick weight loss will come right back as soon as the fluid is replaced.
  2. Detox teas are often made and sold without regulatory oversight. Health claims are not necessarily based on credible scientific research. You can conduct your own science-based research at google scholar: https://scholar.google.com/

The takeaway: Detox teas are likely a fleeting fix for weight loss and not a sustainable lifestyle change. When making the decision to hop on the detox tea trend, consider this:

A more sustainable lifestyle change for weight loss is to slightly modify your diet. To lose one pound, you need to burn 3,500 calories. That number seems high but when you consume 500 fewer calories a day, you can safely drop 1 pound a week. An easy way to do this is to swap out low nutrient-dense, high calorie foods for healthier options.

Examples provided by the Mayo clinic include opting for a bowl of strawberries (fresh or frozen), which is 69 calories, over a cup of chocolate ice cream (285 calories). When getting your daily coffee, choose black coffee over a flavored latte. The black coffee is only 4 calories and the flavored latte is 250. If you are craving a bubbly drink, reach for sparkling water (0 calories) instead of a carbonated soft drink.

References:

  1. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a601112.html
  2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/calories/art-20048065

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at hgic@clemson.edu or 1-888-656-9988.

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