Putting together your weight loss diet can be a challenge with all the possibilities. What about kombucha, is it good for weight loss or fattening?
Kombucha is a type of fermented tea. The exact nutritional values will vary from kombucha to kombucha since brands often add sugar and other ingredients. However, by looking at an example you get a good impression of how good kombucha is for weight loss.
Kombucha can be a better choice than many foods and drinks when trying to lose weight. However, there are some potential side effects that may outweigh the potential benefits, especially for certain groups of people.
This drink is in any case not a magic weight loss switch. Other drinks like water, tea, and coffee may have similar benefits for weight loss as kombucha.
If you do decide to drink more kombucha with the goal of losing more weight try to drink it earlier in the day. Its caffeine content may mess with your sleep quality when kombucha is consumed too close to bedtime.
How kombucha is made
Kombucha is simply made by taking sweetened green or black tea, adding specific micro-organisms, and letting the mix ferment.
This leads to kombucha being a drink that doesn’t really contain any vitamins and minerals but does contain other micronutrients like antioxidants and probiotics.
Lastly, during the fermentation process, some alcohol may be created. Most country’s regulations require store-bought kombucha to contain less than 0.5% alcohol. Home-made kombucha may have higher levels of alcohol.
Home-made kombucha can also pose other risks. It is likely smarter to buy kombucha in stores.
Fermented foods and weight loss
Kombucha is a fermented food which means if prepared right kombucha contains something called “probiotics”. Eating more probiotics, both in food and supplements, may help you with weight loss (1, 2, 3).
For now, the claims about the potential of probiotics for weight loss are not waterproof (6, 7). More studies are required to make statements with more confidence. In any case probiotics will likely not be bad for weight loss and good for health so you might as well include them.
Keep in mind that heating up kombucha too much destroys a lot of the bacteria. This is something you preferably want to avoid.
Green tea and weight loss
Since kombucha is basically the tea with probiotics, some alcohol, and maybe some left-over sugar, kombucha still contains many of the tea substances.
One of these substances is caffeine. It’s true that a cup of green tea contains less caffeine (24-40 mg) than a cup of coffee (100-200 mg). However, even a small amount of caffeine has an effect. Caffeine can help fat burning (8) and improve exercise performance (9).
Do keep in mind that consuming caffeine too late in the day can disrupt sleep. Sleep is very important when trying to lose weight so you want to avoid drinking kombucha too late in the day. The exact timing varies from individual to individual and kombucha to kombucha.
Some other beneficial substances in green tea are antioxidants called catechins. One of these is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a substance that can boost metabolism.
Most studies regarding green tea are done with a green tea extract, a more concentrated version of the tea compounds. Your regular cup probably won’t cause the same weight loss results as in studies but it can still be beneficial for losing weight. Small bits do add up.
During the fermentation process some of these substances partially break down. How much depends on a wide variety of factors. The amount of caffeine is something you should be able to find on the kombucha nutrition label.
Drinking water and weight loss
Something you have to know is that kombucha may benefit weight loss in ways that simply are because it contains a lot of water.
The second study estimated that the total effect of 500 ml of water would be around 100 kJ (about 24 calories). In theory you could burn up to 100 calories a day extra by drinking an extra 2 liters of water.
The exact amount will most likely be different from person to person but those are still promising results. A lot of people would be happy with burning an extra 100 calories a day.
Drinking water can help also help with reducing your appetite.
Hunger and cravings are common reasons why people fail to stick to their weight loss habits. Avoiding these can be very beneficial for your progress.
Will kombucha help you lose weight?
To know whether or not you can eat kombucha while trying to lose weight you still need a final piece of the puzzle. The number of calories in kombucha.
One example of kombucha contains around 19 calories per 100 grams. 18.4 of these calories come from the carbohydrates (4.6 g per 100 grams) (13).
You can certainly fit in some kombucha in low carb diets like the keto diet but kombucha is not ideal for diets like these.
Even though there are vegetables lower in calories, the number of calories per 100 grams in kombucha is rather low compared to many foods and drinks.
With the knowledge available it is impossible to quantify exactly the weight loss effects of the probiotics and remaining caffeine and antioxidants. This makes it hard to compare kombucha with regular water, coffee, and regular tea in terms of weight loss.
In any case kombucha will likely be more helpful for weight loss than sodas, fruit juices, and foods very high in calories that are not very filling. On the other hand there will be whole foods that will be more filling for fewer calories than kombucha. What you compare kombucha with matters.
All in all, many people will lose weight by drinking more kombucha but is not some unique weight loss drink. If you decide to drink kombucha choose the options without a lot of added sugar and keep this drink for earlier in the day to avoid messing with your sleep quality.
How often should you drink kombucha for weight loss?
Nutrition is always a bit of a puzzle in terms of what the perfect diet looks like. It’s a pretty individual thing.
Consuming enough vitamins and minerals is important for both your short and long-term health and weight loss. Kombucha won’t be any help with this so you will need to focus on nutritious foods first.
After that, the main things about kombucha to keep in mind are its caffeine and alcohol content. How much of these nutrients an individual wants to consume is dependent on the personal situation.
Due to the potential side effects of drinking too much kombucha, you may want to limit your consumption to something like 240-480 ml or less.
Drinking kombucha is also definitely not a requirement to lose weight.
Does kombucha help you burn belly fat?
Targetting fat loss in a specific area like your belly is generally not possible. Not by drinking more of a specific drink or by doing a specific exercise. To burn belly fat you have to lose weight overall.
Since kombucha may help you lose weight in general this drink can also help you burn belly fat once your body wants to lose fat in your abdominal area.
Who should not drink kombucha
While kombucha may help many people lose weight, there are also some potential side effects of consuming this drink, especially for certain groups of people.
The potential for side effects is usually bigger for home-made kombucha. Sticking to store-bought kombucha which has to fulfull certain food regulations may the smarter choice.
People who likely want to avoid kombucha include but may not be limited to:
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women
- People with weakened immune systems
- People who don’t do well with caffeine and alcohol
The message here is better safe than sorry.
Kombucha can be a better choice than many foods and drinks when trying to lose weight. However, there are some potential side effects that may outweigh the potential benefits.
If you really like kombucha you can possibly add some to your daily diet depending on your personal situation and health.
Kombucha may be more helpful for weight loss than sodas, fruit juices, and foods very high in calories that are not very filling. However, regular water, coffee, and tea are also great weight loss drink options with fewer potential downsides.