IS TEA BAD FOR WEIGHT LOSS?

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TL;DR – You’ll only lose weight if you expend more calories than you eat on a daily basis over a long enough period of time.

Tea can easily fit into a diet that produces weight loss results, but if you drink large amounts, it may be a good idea to cut down slightly

HOW MANY CALORIES IN TEA?

Tea is Britain’s favourite drink, we guzzle gallons of it everyday, but is it making us fat?

It’s certainly not the prime suspect, but if you drink a lot, it could contribute to weight gain

Tea in its pure form, i.e. black tea is actually calorie-free, but when we add milk and sugar, the calories mount up.

Let’s take a look at the calories of each component;

COMPONENTAMOUNTCALORIES
Tea1 bag0
Semi Skimmed Milk25ml12
Sugar1 Teaspoon (4g)16
TOTALN/A28

28 calories – very little indeed, even if someone was on a 1,000 calorie per day diet; 4 cups would make up less than 12% of their calories.

So, for most people multiple cups of tea a day aren’t going to cause an issue.

Of course, not all tea is made EQUAL.

tea calories
Looks innocent enough, but guzzling these could prevent you from losing weight

MILK MATTERS

Clearly, the two components that contribute most to the calorie content of tea are the milk and sugar.

Let’s look at how many calories are in different varieties of milk;

TYPECALORIES PER 25ML
Skimmed8
Semi Skimmed12
Whole16

Obviously, the less fat in your milk, the fewer calories overall will be in your tea, so if you want to minimise calories, Skimmed milk is best.

There’s an 8 calorie difference between skimmed and whole milk which might sound insignificant but if you’re a 4-cup-a-day drinker this could actually make a huge difference over the course of a year.

As we saw above, a tea with one sugar and semi-skimmed milk comes to around 28 calories. With Whole milk, this would total 36 calories.

Over a year, this means

4 Tea per day with One Sugar and Semi Skimmed Milk = 40,880 calories

4 Teas per day with One Sugar Whole Milk = 52,560 calories 

That’s a difference of 11,680 calories per year or 3.3lbs of body fat.

That means JUST switching from Whole Milk to Skimmed Milk could mean you lose 3lbs over the course of a year.

Arla Best of Both Milk
Another option is Arla ‘Best of Both’. This has the taste of semi-skimmed but at ALMOST the calorie amount of Skimmed (10 calories per 25ml)

SUGAR VS SWEETENER CALORIES

Added sugar is of course the other major source of calories in tea.

Cutting out Sugar can of course save calories but for most people, tea wouldn’t be the same without it.

So what’s the solution?

Sweetener.

It provides the same sweet hit as good old table sugar but for a grand total of zero calories.

Winning.

Let’s take a look at how different amounts of sugar stack up against each other calorie-wise;

AMOUNT OF SUGARCALORIES
1 Teaspoon (4g)16
2 Teaspoons (8g)32
3 Teaspoons (12g)48
4 Teaspoons (16g)64
5 Teaspoons (20g)80

If you’re having more than 5 teaspoons of sugar in your tea then quite frankly, you’re a psychopath.

So, the amount of Sugar you have has a much bigger effect on the calorie-content of your tea than the type of milk.

If we carry on using the example of our 4-cup-a-day drinker, we can see that if we stick with semi-skimmed milk but add TWO sugars, our tea goes from 28 calories to 44 calories.

So, over a year

4 Teas per day with One Sugar and Semi Skimmed Milk = 40,880 calories

4 Teas per day with Two Sugars and Semi Skimmed Milk = 64,240 calories

That means, if you kept everything else the same but started adding TWO sugars instead of one to your tea, you’d gain 7lbs (3kg) of weight over a year – that’s half a stone!

Let’s say you were ALREADY drinking 4 Teas per day with Two Sugars and Semi Skimmed Milk, cutting this habit out completely would mean losing 18lbs (8kg).

Most avid tea drinkers wouldn’t even entertain the idea of giving up their brews however.

So let’s say you were ALREADY drinking 4 Teas per day with Two Sugars and Semi Skimmed Milk and you started using (calorie free) sweetener instead of sugar.

This would reduces each tea from 44 to 12 calories and your daily total calorie intake from tea (if you have 4 everyday) from 176 to 48,

So, over a year;

4 Teas per day with Two Sugars and Semi Skimmed Milk = 64,240 calories

4 Teas per day with Sweetner and Semi Skimmed Milk = 17,520 calories

In this scenario, JUST from swapping sugar for sweetener, you could drop 13lbs (6kg) – that’s almost a stone.

All these hypothetical scenarios are JUST about reducing tea intake, or reducing sugar intake without changing ANYTHING else.

No cutting out foods, no Joe Wicks exercise classes, just tiny changes to your daily habits that add-up over time.

sweetener sucralose
Switching to sweetener is a no-brainer. All the sweetness for zero calories

WHAT ABOUT BISCUITS AND CAKE?

It should probably go without saying that if you have biscuits or cake with your tea, the calorie load will go through the roof.

I say should because there are tons of people that DON’T realise this.

Just because a biscuit ‘goes nicely with a cuppa’ or that you ‘forgot’ you had it, doesn’t mean the calories don’t count.

Here are the calories in some of the UKs favourite biscuits;

BISCUITCALORIES (PER BISCUIT)
Chocolate Digestive84
Jaffa Cake46
Hob Nob67
Custard Cream57
Bourbon67
Rich Tea36

Let’s use the Chocolate Digestive, because everyone knows that’s the best.

84 calories – not bad on it’s own.

You know what’s coming don’t you…

Even if you had one cup of tea per day every year (28 calories) and you started having one chocolate digestive with it (84 calories) – that would equal 9lbs of weight gain (4kg) over a year.

If you had 4 cups of tea a day and had a chocolate digestive with each one – that’s an extra 336 calories per day, which translates to 35lbs (16kg) of weight gain over a year.

HOW TO MAKE TEA LESS FATTENING

As we’ve learned, tea itself isn’t an issue for many people – it has zero calories.

The issue is all the extras that go along with it; milk, sugar and biscuits.

So, what can we do to reduce the calorie load of each cuppa we drink?

  1. CHANGE THE TYPE OF MILK YOU DRINK

If you drink 4 teas per day, switching from whole milk to skimmed milk could save you 8 calories per cup.

This translates into 32 calories per day, or 11,680 calories per year.

That’s 3lbs (1kg) of weight loss in a year.

  1. REDUCE THE AMOUNT OF SUGAR YOU HAVE, OR SWITCH TO SWEETENERS

If you currently have two sugars in your four cuppas, that’s 32 calories per cup (just from sugar), or 128 calories per day just from sugar.

Over a year, that’s 46,720 calories; cutting that out – or switching to calorie-free sweeteners – would lead to a loss of 13lbs (6kg) in a year.

  1. CUT DOWN OR CUT OUT BISCUITS

As we learned, a chocolate digestive has 84 calories, so if you have 4 a day, that’s 336 each day.

Over a year that’s 122,640 calories.

Cutting those out would translate into 35lbs (16kg) of weight loss

SUMMARY

Looking at all the data above, it’s easy to see that if you’re a typical tea drinker (4 a day with semi-skimmed milk, two sugars and a Chocolate digestive each time), making simple switches such as switching to skimmed milk, swapping sugar for sweeteners and cutting out the biscuits could mean you losing 23kg or 51lbs in a year.

Literally just from making those changes – you don’t even need to cut out your beloved cuppas.

If you don’t want to cut out ALL the sugar or biscuits, you could still lose a significant amount of weight.

Joe is an online weight loss coach and qualified personal trainer of 15 years who helps busy, professional men and women lose fat and build muscle.

Having a 9-5 desk-job, Joe understands the struggles of juggling a hectic life with trying to maintain a good physique.

If you want to know more, check out the about page, or get in touch

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