Revealed: The Truth About Instagram's #1 Detox Tea Trend
Detox tea for weight loss is the big new diet right now, and it all seems so easy! Drink tea, lose weight. Whether scrolling your Instagram feed or taking a walk down your local high street, it’s pretty difficult not to spot a detox tea for weight loss on your virtual or real world travels. I popped into Holland & Barratt only this morning and was confronted by a huge display of Bootea, and the same tea lines the shelves near the till point at my nearest Boots. Even Kylie Jenner got in on the act, flaunting her FitTea on Instagram.
At first glance, I’m tempted. A quick-fix 14-day detox to help ease me into the New Year minus a few pounds—very tempting indeed. But at what cost? These designer tea bags aren’t cheap (so there’s that cost), and while all the tea brands are careful to avoid any weight-loss claims, reading between the lines, it's clear that's the goal of more and more women sipping on these beverages.
Pinterest has seen a 407% increase in people saving detox tea ideas, be them store-bought or DIY, so with such a huge growing interest, we took it upon ourselves to call on three nutrition experts for their insights. We sent each of them the claims and ingredients for three of the biggest detox teas on the UK market and asked them to send us their feedback. What they had to say makes for an enlightening read. Keep scrolling to find out more about this growing trend in teas…
The Tea Breakdown
To kick things off, we called on Pandora Paloma, a food coach and founder of healthy events catering company Rooted London, who broke down the good (and the not-so-good) parts of each tea.
Bootea 14 Day Teatox ( £20 ) (£15)
Claims: “The award winning 14-Day Teatox will leave you feeling energised and motivated to reach your goals.”
Recommendations: There is a free eating plan on the website that you can download and carry out during the 14 days.
How to use: The detox includes a 14-day supply of loose-leaf tea, and a seven-day supply of Bedtime cleanse tea bags (one for every other night).
Daytime Tea: Chinese oolong tea, maté leaves, ginger root, fennel seeds, lemongrass, dandelion leaf, ginseng root, gotu kola leaves, and nettle leaves
Pandora Paloma Says: “This is a nice mix of ingredients, and the oolong and maté, both of which contain a small amount of caffeine, will no doubt pick you up. Maté is also known to promote energy levels, suppress appetite and burn fat, but studies show 15 to 75 grams would be needed to show an effect, and I can’t tell how much this tea contains.”
Bedtime Cleanse: Senna leaves, peppermint leaves, fenugreek seeds, liquorice root, burdock root, hawthorn leaves, valerian root, psyllium seeds
Pandora Paloma Says: “Senna has been known for centuries to promote a laxative effect and is an FDA-approved non-prescription laxative. The senna fruit is known to be gentler than the senna leaf, and long-term use of senna is actually not recommended. The American Herbal Products Association warns against long-term use of senna leaf; this is due to the many chemicals called sennosides, which can irritate the lining of the bowel, and it’s this that causes the laxative effect. What we don’t know here is how much senna is included in the tea—the recommended dosage is 17.2 milligrams daily for use with constipation. All of the other ingredients support the digestive system in some way.
“Liquorice and psyllium are known to support constipation, and peppermint is known for soothing the digestive system, while valerian calms the muscles and mind.”
Fit Tea 14 Day Detox (£20)
Claims: “The ingredients boost energy, support metabolism and reduce bloating.”
Recommendations: “Stay hydrated with plenty of water. Exercise regularly 3-5 times per week. Eat healthy, balanced meals, and repeat.”
How to use: Drink the tea every morning, with or without breakfast.
Ingredients: Organic green tea, oolong tea, garcinia cambogia extract, pomegranate, organic roobois, ginger, stevia, honey, guarana, citric acid, sea salt (electrolytes), lemon juice, matcha green tea
Pandora Paloma says: “This contains caffeine from the matcha and oolong, as well as green tea, which are all naturally caffeinated. Garcinia contains the chemical hydroxycitric acid (HCA). Developing research suggests that HCA might prevent fat storage, control appetite, and increase exercise endurance; however, whether these effects occur in humans is unclear. What we don't know is how much of garcinia is needed to have this effect—again it comes down to the exact amount in each tea bag and, thus, whether this really does have an effect on the body.
“Stevia is an FDA-approved sweetener claiming to be a ‘natural’ alternative to sugar. It is, but very often companies add other ingredients that aren't so natural. A recent study from the Weizmann Institute of Science showed that artificial sweeteners could have a detrimental effect on our body, that includes an increased risk for obesity and diabetes. There’s currently not yet enough research to point to stevia’s health benefits or, in turn, the negative side effects.
“The reality here is that for 14 days, if you follow the brand’s recommendations for exercising three to five times per week, you’re going to see an effect. I’m not sold on this tea.”
Teatox Skinny Teatox Organic 14 Day Program (£25)
Claims: “Our guiding principle is to contribute to a healthier lifestyle through the natural power of our teas. But we are aware that sustainable effects are difficult to achieve solely through a drink.”
Recommendations: This tea duo comes with a Skinny&You guide with a nutrition plan and fitness exercises.
How to use: "We recommend to drink one cup of the Good Morning tea about 20 minutes before breakfast and one cup of the Good Night tea in the evening during your 14 or 28 days."
Good Morning Tea: Lemongrass, dandelion, green mate leaves, goji berries, green sencha tea, ginger root, birch leaves, nettle leaves, goldenrod, horsetail
Pandora Paloma says: “Vitamin C is a natural antioxidant found in good concentration in goji berries. One hundred grams of dried goji contains 48.4 milligrams of vitamin C, or 80% of your recommended daily allowance. Papaya has 60.9 milligrams of vitamin C per 100 grams. You catch my drift! This is caffeine-rich from the mate leaves and sencha green tea, plus nettle and ginger are lovely cleansing blends. Horsetail is used as a diuretic and widely used for fluid retention, which promotes me to think you may be losing weight, but how much of it is water? Studies would need to show this. Of all the teas, I like the sound of this one for a morning pick-me-up.”
Good Night Tea: Rooibos, lemon balm leaves, peppermint leaves, green oat herb, hibiscus blossom, elderflower, lime blossom, yarrow, cornflower blossoms.
Pandora Paloma says: “Oh, rooibos, my favourite caffeine-free tea! This tea sounds delicious. Lemon balm works to calm the body and offers support for the digestive system. I’d use this tea pre-bedtime.”
A Valid Tool for Weight Loss?
What’s clear from exploring these detox teas for weight loss and the brands that create them is that each encourages you to eat healthier and move more (no bad thing), which means you’re likely to see results anyway.
“It’s the sort of thing we've seen before,” says Peter Cox, clinical nutritionist at OMNIYA. “An example of this is in the medical field is the weight-loss pill. The recommendation with this was that it might help weight loss, but in conjunction with dietary control and exercise, when in actual fact it was the dietary control and exercise that actually caused the weight loss, not the drug or the active ingredients. So the question with these teas is will they have an effect on their own? And the answer is almost certainly not.”
In other words, you won't be able to mainline junk food, drink the tea and see results, that's never going to happen and even the tea brands themselves understand this, hence the encouragement for exercise and healthy eating.
The other issue is how much serious testing have these teas undergone? “These teas have quite novel combinations of herbs, and those combinations are probably largely untried and tested,” warns Cox. “Yes, these teas all contain renowned herbs with known benefits that can potentially ‘detox.’ The problem with a tea is we don't know how much of the active ingredient there is and if there's enough of it to have a significantly beneficial effect.”
Also, as highlighted by Paloma above, some contain diuretic and laxative ingredients, so it’s likely any weight loss or de-bloating is caused by loss of water and most certainly not fat. Jennifer Beecroft, a registered Nutritional Therapist (bee-nutrition.co.uk), agrees, “All of the teas contain caffeine, a stimulant that temporarily increases metabolic processes and energy levels, as well as suppressing the appetite. Caffeine is also a diuretic and encourages the kidneys to excrete additional fluid. Bootea and Skinny Teatox contain dandelion and nettle leaves, which also have diuretic properties.
“Senna leaves and psyllium seeds found in Bootea act as laxatives, increasing the water content and frequency of bowel movements. Excreting additional water will lead to weight loss through an undesirable state of dehydration; a reduction in bloating will cause a temporarily flatter stomach, but neither of these should be confused with a reduction in excess body fat, which requires the intervention of dietary and lifestyle modifications.”
On the plus side, Beecroft states, “All three teas contain ingredients to support the digestive system and to potentially reduce bloating, such as ginger and peppermint.”
So is it worth spending what little money you have in January on these teas? Cox isn’t adverse to you drinking them, at least in the short-term: “If you were a client of mine, I'd be inclined to say ‘Try it, see how you feel.’ But I wouldn't recommend taking them indefinitely or over a long period of time without actually identifying the effect or knowing the levels of the active ingredients.”
“Motivation to be healthy is likely to be boosted initially due to weight loss achieved from additional fluid excretion, plus the energy hit from the caffeine,” explains Beecroft. “But these are only temporary effects.”
While many of us are after that much-needed motivation, and if we're being real here, a quick fix, Paloma rightly says, “Eating well should be a way of life, not a quick fix, because very often you’ll just put the weight back on.”
If your goal is to lose weight, Paloma recommends this: “Eat more greens, more rich-coloured fruits and vegetables, cut down on stimulants such as alcohol, which has a vast amount of hidden calories, and exercise more. The reality is, if you're eating healthier foods, cutting back on your usual diet and exercising your calories in versus energy out will mean you’ll be in a position to lose a couple of pounds.”
Okay, so it’s not as exciting as the prospect of losing weight with a detox tea, but it will see you right in the long-term.
Opening image: @isabellath