-- intro: So-called “detox” teas have been popular for years, primarily among people who frequent health-food stores, or consult with alternative practitioners. These days, though, they’ve become big business, and a handful of celebrities are touting their weight-loss benefits on social media. In a way, detox teas have become the liquid version of waist trainers—the before and after results are often dramatic, and their celeb backing generates buzz, but you may be wondering: Do they really work, and are they safe? Before you plunk down your hard-earned money and start sipping, here are five things you should know.
quicklist: 2 category: 5 Things You Should Know About Detox Teas title: You might lose water weight, not actual fat url: text:
Detox teas that combine caffeine with diuretics can trigger the loss of water weight. Just two cups of water weighs one pound on a scale, so shedding fluid can make you look and feel lighter—even if you haven’t lost an ounce of body fat. Detox teas can also trigger a laxative effect, which causes your body to eliminate waste from your GI tract, another result that can make your stomach flatter, and allow you to feel lighter, even if your lean-to-fat ratio remains exactly the same. If this quick-fix effect gives you the confidence boost and motivation you need to start eating healthier and working out—the real keys to getting healthy and lean—terrific (assuming the teas are even safe to drink—see below). Just remember: If you go back to your former less-than-stellar eating or exercise habits, or stop drinking the tea, you can gain the weight right back just as quick as you dropped it.
quicklist: 3 category: 5 Things You Should Know About Detox Teas title: Some detox tea ingredients can have unwanted side effects url: text:
quicklist: 4 category: 5 Things You Should Know About Detox Teas url: text: Most detox teas contain caffeine, probably because this stimulant may suppress appetite, trigger your digestive system to let go of waste, and help you shed water weight. A caffeine-induced energy boost may also lead to working out a little longer or harder than usual. However, too much caffeine can also be risky (see above) and interfere with getting enough sleep—and catching too few zzzs may ultimately undo the tea’s weight-loss effects. In fact, too little shuteye has been shown to trigger excessive eating and weight gain and even slow metabolism, which can make it easier to gain weight even if you don’t eat extra calories. A good rule of thumb, regardless of where your caffeine is coming from, is to nix it at least six hours before bed. And if you’re trying to shed pounds, commit to making adequate sleep a top priority.
quicklist: 5 category: 5 Things You Should Know About Detox Teas title: The research on detox teas is scant url: text:
While there are some published studies on various ingredients often found in detox teas, I haven’t seen any research on the teas themselves, particularly in the precise formulas they’re prescribed (that research isn’t required for the teas to be sold, by the way). That means that using detox teas leaves unanswered questions about if and how they work, how they should be used, how much may be too much, and possibly who shouldn’t use them. If you’re unsure, or are planning to start drinking them, talk to your doctor, nutritionist, or health care provider. Just be sure he or she doesn’t have a vested interest in the sale of the product you’re considering: If they happen to be selling or endorsing it, seek a second opinion.
Cynthia Sass is a registered dietitian and Health’s contributing nutrition editor. She privately counsels clients in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance, and is the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers NHL team and the New York Yankees MLB team.
This article originally appeared on health.com.