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Green Tea Detox: Is It Good or Bad for You?

Health + Wellness
Jasmin Awad / EyeEm / Getty Images

By Rachael Link, MS, RD

Many people turn to detox diets for quick and easy ways to fight fatigue, lose weight, and cleanse their bodies.


The green tea detox is popular because it's easy to follow and doesn't require any major modifications to your diet or lifestyle.

However, while some promote it as a simple way to improve overall health, others dismiss it as yet another unsafe and ineffective fad diet.

This article takes a close look at the green tea detox, including whether its benefits outweigh its risks.

What Is a Green Tea Detox?

The green tea detox is advertised as a simple way to flush out harmful toxins, boost energy levels, and promote better health.

Its proponents claim that simply adding a few daily servings of green tea to your diet can clear up blemishes, enhance immune function, and increase fat burning.

Typically, a green tea detox involves adding 3–6 cups (0.7–1.4 liters) of green tea to your normal daily diet.

It doesn't require you to avoid certain foods or reduce your calorie intake, but it's recommended to exercise and follow a nutrient-rich diet during the detox.

Guidelines on the length of the detox vary, but it's generally followed for several weeks.

Summary

A green tea detox involves adding 3–6 cups (0.7–1.4 liters) of green tea to your daily diet for several weeks. Proponents claim that it can flush out toxins, enhance immune function, and boost your weight loss efforts and energy.

Potential Benefits

While research on the effects of the green tea detox is lacking, plenty of studies have demonstrated the benefits of green tea.

Below are a few of the potential benefits of a green tea detox.

Promotes Hydration

Staying hydrated is important to many aspects of your health, as nearly every system in your body requires water to function properly.

In fact, proper hydration is essential for filtering waste, regulating your body's temperature, promoting nutrient absorption, and helping your brain function efficiently (1 Trusted Source).

Green tea consists mostly of water. Thus, it can promote hydration and help you meet your daily fluid requirements.

On a green tea detox, you will likely drink 24–48 ounces (0.7–1.4 liters) of fluids each day from green tea alone.

However, green tea should not be your only source of fluids. It should be paired with plenty of water and other healthy beverages to help you stay well hydrated.

Supports Weight Loss

Studies show that increasing your fluid intake could aid your weight loss efforts.

One year-long study in 173 women found that drinking more water was associated with greater fat and weight loss, regardless of diet or exercise (2 Trusted Source).

What's more, green tea and its components have been shown to boost weight loss and fat burning.

One study in 23 adults found that consuming green tea extract increased fat burning during exercise by 17%, compared to a placebo (3 Trusted Source).

Another large review of 11 studies showed that certain compounds in green tea, including plant chemicals called catechins, could decrease body weight and support weight loss maintenance (4 Trusted Source).

Nevertheless, these studies used highly concentrated green tea extracts.

Studies on regular green tea and weight loss have found that it might have a small, but statistically non-significant, effect on weight loss (5 Trusted Source).

May Aid in Disease Prevention

Green tea contains powerful compounds that are thought to help protect against chronic disease.

For instance, test-tube studies have shown that epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a type of antioxidant in green tea, may help block the growth of liver, prostate, and lung cancer cells (6 Trusted Source, 7 Trusted Source, 8 Trusted Source).

Drinking green tea may also help decrease blood sugar levels. In fact, one review found that drinking at least 3 cups (237 ml) per day was associated with a 16% lower risk of developing diabetes (9 Trusted Source, 10 Trusted Source).

Additionally, some research shows that drinking green tea may be linked to lower risks of heart disease and stroke (11 Trusted Source, 12 Trusted Source).

A review of 9 studies found that people who drank at least 1 cup (237 ml) of green tea per day had a lower risk of heart disease and stroke.

Moreover, those who drank at least 4 cups (946 ml) per day were less likely to have a heart attack than those who didn't drink any green tea (11 Trusted Source).

That said, additional studies are needed to understand if following a short-term green tea detox can help prevent disease.

Summary

Drinking green tea may help promote hydration, increase weight loss, and prevent disease. More research is needed to evaluate if a green tea detox may offer these same benefits.

Downsides

Despite the potential benefits of a green tea detox, there are downsides to consider.

Below are a few of the drawbacks associated with following a green tea detox.

High in Caffeine

A single 8-ounce (237-ml) serving of green tea contains approximately 35 mg of caffeine (13 Trusted Source).

This is significantly less than other caffeinated beverages like coffee or energy drinks, which can contain double or even triple that amount per serving.

Nevertheless, drinking 3–6 cups (0.7–1.4 liters) of green tea per day can pile onto your caffeine intake, adding up to 210 mg of caffeine per day from green tea alone.

Caffeine is a stimulant that can cause side effects like anxiety, digestive problems, high blood pressure, and sleep disturbances, especially when consumed in high amounts (14 Trusted Source).

It's also addictive and can cause withdrawal symptoms like headache, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and mood changes (15 Trusted Source).

For most adults, up to 400 mg of caffeine per day is considered safe. However, some people may be more sensitive to its effects, so consider cutting back if you experience any negative symptoms (16 Trusted Source).

Impaired Nutrient Absorption

Green tea contains certain polyphenols, such as EGCG and tannins, which can bind to micronutrients and block their absorption in your body.

In particular, green tea has been shown to reduce iron absorption and might cause iron deficiency in some people (17 Trusted Source, 18 Trusted Source).

Although enjoying the occasional cup of green tea is unlikely to cause nutritional deficiencies in healthy adults, a green tea detox may not be advisable for those at a higher risk of iron deficiency.

If you are at risk of iron deficiency, stick to drinking green tea between meals and try to wait at least one hour after eating before drinking tea (19 Trusted Source).

Unnecessary and Ineffective

Drinking green tea can benefit your health, but the green tea detox is likely ineffective and unnecessary for weight loss and detoxification.

Your body has a built-in detox system to clear out toxins and harmful compounds.

Additionally, while a long-term, regular intake of green tea has been shown to benefit your health in many ways, drinking it for just a few weeks is unlikely to have much of an impact.

Furthermore, although adding green tea to your diet may result in small and short-term weight loss, it's unlikely to be long-lasting or sustainable once the detox ends.

Therefore, green tea should be viewed as a component of a healthy diet and lifestyle — not part of a "detox."

Summary

Green tea contains a good amount of caffeine and polyphenols, which may impair iron absorption. A green tea detox may also be unnecessary and ineffective, especially if it's only followed for short periods.

Other Options for Healthy Detoxing and Weight Loss

Your body has a complex system to eliminate toxins, optimize your health, and prevent disease.

For example, your intestines excrete waste products, your lungs expel carbon dioxide, your skin secretes sweat, and your kidneys filter blood and produce urine (20 Trusted Source).

Instead of following fad diets or cleanses, it's best to give your body the nutrients and fuel that it needs to detox itself more effectively and promote better health in the long term.

Drinking plenty of water each day, exercising regularly, and eating nutritious whole foods are simple ways to optimize your health and promote weight loss without the dangerous side effects associated with some detox diets.

Finally, while green tea can be a great addition to a balanced diet, stick to a few cups per day and be sure to pair it with other diet and lifestyle modifications for better results.

Summary

Staying hydrated, following a well-rounded diet, and exercising regularly are easy ways to promote healthy weight loss and maximize your body's natural ability to clear out toxins.

The Bottom Line

Green tea may boost weight loss, keep you hydrated, and protect against chronic disease.

However, drinking 3–6 cups (0.7–1.4 liters) per day on a green tea detox may impair your nutrient absorption and increase your caffeine intake. It's also unlikely to benefit your health or weight loss efforts if only followed short term.

Green tea should be enjoyed as part of a nutritious diet — not a quick fix.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.

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