Can White Tea Really Stop New Fat Cells from Forming? A Doctor Weighs In

Updated: Apr. 27, 2017

If you're trying to lose weight, brewing this variety of tea could actually give you an edge. Here's what you need to know.

Can-White-Tea-Really-Stop-New-Fat-Cells-From-Forming--A-Doctor-ExplainsSoyka/Shutterstock, Dragon Images/Shutterstock

Discussion has raged for years about which is the best tea to drink for weight loss. But a new study, published in Nutrition and Metabolism, reveals some groundbreaking findings that could put white tea at top of that list.

White tea uses the same leaves as green or black tea, but with minimal processing. The result is the purest form of tea, with high levels of polyphenols that help fight fat.

Here’s the science behind how it works: The body stores energy from the food we eat in the liver and muscles. But when we eat more food than we need, evolution kicks in and the body tries to store that extra energy as fat, in case we need it in the future. The body transforms preadipocyte cells (stem cells that can develop into different kinds of cells, depending on how they’re triggered), into fat cells known as adipocytes.

In this new scientific study, researchers bathed human preadipocytes in extracts of white tea to see how it affected their development into adipocytes. They found that the solution slowed down the growth of those fat cells and helped break down existing ones.

Adrienne Youdim, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine at UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, explains why this study is unique. “There have been studies in the past that have looked at rat or mouse models,” she says. “While those studies are very helpful, we know that different species of animal may function very differently on a cellular level. So this study is important because they’re actually using human fat cells.”

It would be great to think that simply drinking white tea could be answer to all our diet problems. However, as amazing as it may sound, losing weight is not as straightforward as merely upping our intake. According to Dr. Youdim, the body’s drive to preserve calories is extremely complex.

“It’s driven by hormones that are released from fat cells in the stomach, from the intestines, and from the pancreas, as well as numerous different centers in the brain,” she explains. “To say that one pathway is going to completely change the way that we, as human beings, preserve energy would be far-fetched.”

But neither does Dr. Youdim dismiss the health benefits of white tea in our fight against the flab.

“There have been studies showing that 300mg (the equivalent of one mug’s worth) can help suppress appetite and increase metabolism,” she says. “Has that ever been shown to result in tremendous weight loss when nothing else was done? Of course not. But it can be one component, as part of a holistic lifestyle change that employs diet and exercise modification.”

Drinking white tea is unlikely to make much difference to your weight on its own. But when enjoyed as part of a balanced diet and an active lifestyle, it could be an important ally in your battle to stay slim and healthy.