What is dandelion leaf?
It may be the arch-nemesis of a yard-savvy homeowner, but dandelions aren’t without their redeeming qualities. As a matter of fact, these “weeds” are commonly used in folk medicine and have been for quite some time.
When people talk about dandelion tea, they are largely talking about one of two different beverages: an infusion made of the plant’s leaves, or one made of roasted dandelion roots.
Both are considered safe (so long as you haven’t sprayed your yard with herbicides or pesticides) and are used for a variety of purposes.
Dandelion Tea for Weight Loss
While you may think dandelion is just a weed, parts of this plant are edible and can be used to make a type of tea. Dandelion tea is sometimes recommended for weight loss, but no significant evidence backs up its use for this purpose. Check with your doctor before adding dandelion tea to your diet to make sure it's safe for you.
Dandelion Tea Diuretic Effect
One of the reasons dandelion tea is sometimes recommended for weight loss is because it can have a diuretic effect, causing a decrease in body fluid. Losing water can be beneficial if you're retaining water for some reason, but it can also be risky if you drink too much dandelion tea. A study published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2009 verified that dandelion extract can increase urination for 5 hours after consumption. Whether the tea will have the same effect may depend on how strong the tea is and how much of the active ingredient ends up in the final product. The problem with using diuretics for weight loss is that they result only in the loss of only water weight, not fat, and once you're properly hydrated again, all the weight usually comes back.
Dandelion Tea and Endurance
Dandelion tea may help with weight loss in another way. An animal study published in the African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines in 2011 found that dandelion supplementation may help increase endurance. Further research needs to be done to verify dandelion tea has the same effects in people, however. If this is the case, theoretically, it might make it easier to exercise for longer and burn the calories necessary for weight loss.
Potential Side Effects
Diuretics make you have to urinate more often. Depending on how much and how often you use them, this can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances, which in turn cause other symptoms, including dizziness, thirst, muscle cramps, nausea, headaches, blurred vision and extreme tiredness. Diuretics are not recommended for weight-loss purposes.
A Better Tea for Weight Loss
No tea is going to cause you to lose large amounts of weight, but some evidence of beneficial effects from drinking green tea exists. Drinking green tea may help increase metabolism and fat burning in overweight people, leading to small increases in weight loss, according to a study published in Physiology & Behavior in 2008. Another study, published in The Journal of Nutrition in 2009, found that drinking green tea helped increase abdominal fat loss brought on by exercise. This means green tea may help you lose a small amount of extra weight and body fat if you drink it while following a reduced-calorie diet and exercise program.
Other Diet and Exercise Changes for Weight Loss
To lose a significant amount of weight, you need to create a calorie deficit. Each pound of weight loss requires you to either eat 3,500 fewer calories or do enough exercise to burn this amount of calories. Eating smaller portions, limiting fatty and sugary foods and eating mainly lean protein, whole grains, low-fat dairy, fruits and vegetables can help you reach your weight-loss goals. These foods are good sources of either protein or fiber, both of which help people feel full after eating, making it easier to cut calories.
For the best results, pair your healthy eating plan with an increase in physical activity. Cardio helps you burn more calories, and resistance training helps you build more muscle, which can help increase metabolism. Aim for at least 300 minutes of cardio and two resistance-training workouts per week. Resistance training workouts should include one to two sets of 12 to 15 repetitions of a variety of exercises to target all of the major muscle groups.