There are many misconceptions around drinks that burn fat. First thing’s first: you don’t burn fat from a drink you ingest. There are many claims that say combining certain ingredients together and drinking it can help burn fat, but that is simply not true.
Increasing energy burn is easiest to control from increasing exercise.
Most of the body’s energy needs go towards keeping basic body functions like heart rate, energy for brain, nerves and moving the diaphragm.
However, drastically changing this level takes time and changes in weight (not from drinking something).
Another area the body uses energy is from the digestive process.
The food and beverages we ingest need to be broken down into tiny molecules that the body can absorb.
This process takes energy, but it is a very small fraction of overall energy burn.
Here is the truth for some common drinks suggesting to burn fat.
Be leery of any supplement promising to increase fat burn, as this is probably an extreme over exaggeration.
Green tea is one of the most popular drinks associated with burning fat because it actually does have some components that can help boost metabolic rate.
Caffeine acts as a stimulant which can have an effect on increasing metabolism, and certain antioxidants called catechins found in green tea may also have an impact on metabolic rate.
The problem with associating green tea with burning fat is the effect, if any, from green tea on increasing metabolism is really small.
Also, studies looking at the effect with green tea and weight loss use a really high dose of tea, up to 15 cups per day.
Health experts also recommend staying away from green tea supplements as they could be harmful to the liver (1).
If you want to add green tea to your diet, it’s not a bad idea.
Green tea does provide antioxidants which can have some health benefit.
Just keep in mind adding a few cups of green tea to your diet isn’t going to all of a sudden increase fat loss.
Like green tea, coffee contains caffeine which could increase metabolism.
However, just like with green tea, the effect is really small.
Drinking coffee will not rev up your metabolism to shift your body into burning fat.
Some health benefits have been associated with drinking coffee, but significant weight loss isn’t one of them.
Coffee can be part of a healthy diet, but weight loss is from the combination of many factors not just one drink.
A word of caution with coffee: coffee drinks can be quite high in calories.
Flavored lattes can be quite high in sugar.
So, if you’re looking for the healthiest benefit from coffee, drink it black or with only slight amounts of cream and sweetener.
Another drink associated with fat burn is lemon water.
The idea that drinking lemon water can stimulate fat burn is often based in an over simplification from a 2008 study (2).
This study with mice suggested compounds in lemons may help improve fat metabolism in mice that were fed a high fat diet.
The problem of making the leap that lemon water can increase fat burn is this study was done in mice, their intake of lemon was really high and it was mainly using components from the lemon rind, not the lemon juice.
Adding squeezed lemon or other fruit to flavor your water can be a good idea for increasing over all fluids throughout the day.
Plus, you may get some additional vitamin C and other antioxidants, but drinking this alone won’t stimulate fat burn.
Does drinking cold water really burn more calories than luke warm water? The answer is yes, but it’s really small.
According to an article (3) from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, drinking cold water instead of luke warm water could burn an extra 8 calories.
In the big picture of metabolism and weight loss, this amount is insignificant.
Focusing on other areas for weight loss like cutting out empty calorie sources is a better strategy for targeting weight loss.
If drinking cold water helps you get more fluids in, that can be helpful.
Drinking cold water may also hydrate the body quicker especially if you are hot.
However, it won’t cause any real increase in fat burn.
Artificially sweetened drinks
Drinking a diet soda doesn’t cause the body to start burning fat as a fuel.
However, if you change the wording and ask if drinking artificially sweetened beverages can help with weight loss, there is some debate among researchers.
Some studies have found when people drink artificially sweetened beverages in place of sugary beverages, they can increase weight loss.
However, some population studies have also found those who frequently drink artificially sweetened beverages may be at a higher risk for weight gain.
Don’t fall into the trap that drinking artificially sweetened drinks has a green light for drinking as much as you want.
Health experts suggest using caution when drinking these drinks even though technically they don’t provide any calories.
They may impact the brain’s reward center and may lead to over consuming other foods and may have a negative impact on gut health.
As with anything, the bottom line is use moderation if you drink artificially sweetened beverages.
Your fluid choice can have a large impact on weight regulation.
Drinking sugary drinks has been associated with increasing risk for weight gain and type 2 diabetes.
On the other hand, drinking adequate amounts of water throughout the day may be helpful for weight maintenance.
A 2016 study (4) found a significant association between inadequate hydration and elevated BMI.
One thing that drinks, by themselves, cannot do is radically impact metabolic rate to increase fat burn.