This article has been Fact-Checked by Kendall Kennedy MS, RD, RYT
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There are plenty of foods that supposedly help you lose weight. One of them is matcha. What is matcha exactly and is it good for weight loss?
Matcha is a powder made from green tea leaves grown and processed in a specific way. Matcha powder can be consumed in many different ways but the most popular is making tea with it.
Matcha tea is most popular in the east but interest in matcha and its potential health benefits has been rising over the years in the rest of the world.
Find out if matcha is good for weight loss and if it’s something you should focus on.
How matcha is made
Matcha is made from the same plant as certain other green teas. That doesn’t mean these 2 kinds of drinks are the same. When plants have been chosen to make matcha they receive a different treatment that results in a different nutrition palette. This in turn changes the impact of matcha on weight loss.
The green tea plants for matcha receive a shade-treatment in the 3 to 4 weeks before harvest. This treatment basically involves decreasing the amount of sunlight that reaches the plants by covering them up.
Interestingly enough, this influences the nutrient contents of the leaves. These leaves often get handpicked at harvest time. After that, they get steamed and air-dried.
Next, the stems and veins get removed from the leaves. Once that’s over, what’s left finally gets grounded into matcha and packed for transport.
Benefits of matcha for weight loss
The unique preparing process of matcha leads to a drink different than regular green tea.
There are both potential benefits and potential disadvantages of matcha for weight loss.
Matcha contains substances that can help weight loss
Matcha contains certain substances that can help you lose more weight.
Some other substances in matcha are antioxidants called catechins. One of these is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a substance that can boost metabolism (3).
Matcha tea contains water
If you consume matcha in its most popular form, matcha tea, you also get the weight loss benefits from drinking water.
Drinking water increases the amount of calories your burn. Some estimations are an extra 24 calories per 500 ml (6, 7, 8). That’s not the greatest amount if you do it once. Even so, if matcha helps you drink extra water each day that adds up after a while.
By filling up your stomach with a zero-calorie drink you also feel less hunger and cravings. These are a big reason people fail to stick to their diet.
Disadvantages of matcha for weight loss
It’s important to know that matcha can also have some disadvantages. These disadvantages are mainly because the caffeine. Consuming too much or at the wrong time. This can lead to:
- Bad sleep quality
Caffeine too close to bed time can mess with your sleep quality and duration. Sleep is very important if you’re looking to lose weight. Try to avoid matcha at least 8-10 hours before bed to play it safe.
Some people don’t deal well with caffeine. If that’s you, you might want to avoid matcha altogether.
For most people drinking a limited amount of matcha earlier in the day should cause no serious side effects.
How to prepare matcha tea for weight loss
The first step is to add matcha to a cup. How much depends on personal taste and how much you want to consume. Recommendations go from half a teaspoon to 2 teaspoons of matcha powder for every 80ml to a cup.
You can sift the matcha to avoid clotting of the powder.
You want to use hot water, not boiling water. That means about 158-176°F (70-80°C). If you use boiling water the taste will suffer and you might feel nauseous drinking matcha on an empty stomach.
Some people add a little water, start stirring, and then add the rest of the water. You can also use a special whisk to stir. You can also add all the water at once and use a teaspoon to stir.
If you’re looking to lose weight don’t add any cream, sugar or sweeteners.
How much matcha should you drink to lose weight?
The FDA recommends a maximum caffeine intake of about 400 mg a day (12). They do acknowledge that different individuals have different caffeine tolerance.
This daily limit is about 5.5 teaspoons of matcha day if you don’t consume any other caffeine sources. If you decide to drink this much certainly make sure you keep your matcha for earlier in the day. That way it’s less likely that your sleep quality will suffer.
For most people it is ok to drink matcha every day.
Best time to drink matcha for weight loss
You want to avoid big sources of caffeine like matcha too close to bed time. The exact amount of time it takes caffeine to get out of your body depends from person to person.
The general estimation is that caffeine has a half-life of 5-6 hours. That means that in 5-6 hours half the caffeine you consumed is gone.
The earlier you drink matcha the better for weight loss and your health. You want to stop drinking caffeine heavy drinks at least 8-10 hours before bed. Some people shouldn’t drink matcha altogether.
Who should avoid matcha?
A part of the population doesn’t deal with caffeine very well. Even by drinking a tiny cup of matcha in the morning they mess up their sleep. It’s better for the health and weight loss of these people to stay away from matcha altogether.
Besides that pregnant women, breastfeeding women and children want to avoid drinking matcha.
Some people have other medical conditions or take medication that doesn’t match well with caffeine. When in doubt talk to your doctor before increasing your caffeine intake.
Matcha vs other popular drinks for weight loss
So matcha can benefit your weight loss if you drink it at the right time and in the right quantity. But how does it compare to certain other drinks for weight loss?
Matcha vs green tea for weight loss
The caffeine and the epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) in these drinks look like the most important components when it comes to losing weight.
Consumerlab.com tested matcha tea vs green teas. They found that the amount of EGCG in brewable and bottled teas ranged from about 20 mg to 80 mg per cup, while matcha powders provided 73 mg to 119 mg per cup (based on about 1 teaspoon of powder).
Other research suggest that the amount of EGCG available from matcha is 3-137 times greater than other green teas (1).
1 cup of matcha tea contains around 70 mg of caffeine while regular green tea contains around 24-40 mg of caffeine.
Purely looking at caffeine and EGCG, matcha tea is better for weight loss than green tea.
Matcha vs coffee for weight loss
The problem with comparing matcha vs coffee for weight loss is that there are different substances they don’t have in common. It’s a bit like comparing apples to oranges.
One common substance these 2 drinks have is caffeine. 1 teaspoon of matcha contains about 70 mg of caffeine. One cup of coffee 100-200 mg.
That being said it’s not entirely clear how coffee compares to matcha for weight loss. There currently is not enough specific research on the subject.
Different ways to consume more matcha
There are different ways people try to implement more matcha into their diet. Unfortunately not all of them are great for weight loss. Make sure you know which ones are good and which ones you need to avoid.
Added to healthy dishes
You can add matcha to certain healthy dishes for it’s impact on weight loss or just for taste.
Some examples are smoothies, chia pudding, and overnight oats. Adding some matcha to a weight loss friendly dish makes it more weight loss friendly as long as you don’t consume the food too close to bedtime.
Matcha tea deluxe
Your local coffee shop might offer matcha drinks. Unfortunately they often add a lot of cream, sugar and sweeteners. All things you want to avoid when you’re trying to lose weight.
You can have a deluxe every once in a while and still lose weight but generally you should stick to regular matcha tea.
Baked goods with matcha
It’s also possible to add matcha to several baked goods. Some examples are donuts, muffins, waffles, cookies and the list goes on.
The matcha might make these dishes very slightly better for weight loss but these foods are often still very bad.
The best way to consume matcha for weight loss
The best way to consume matcha if you’re looking to lose weight is matcha tea. This will help you consume more water too.
After that adding matcha to healthy dishes is good too. There are also pure matcha supplements which are basically consuming matcha raw. Just keep the timing of all of these matcha things in mind.
Other health benefits of drinking matcha tea
Besides the possible weight loss benefits of drinking matcha tea, there are also some potential health benefits.
Drinking green tea and matcha can offer some of the following health benefits:
- Can reduce stress (13)
- Source of antioxidants, substances that help your body deal with oxidative stress (14)
- Can help reduce liver damage (15, 16)
- Slowing cancer growth (17)
- Improving cholesterol levels (18, 19)
Even if the potential weight loss effects are not that big, the health benefits of matcha might make it worth drinking anyway.
Should you drink matcha to lose weight?
Matcha and specifically matcha tea can help you burn some extra calories if you consume it at the right time.
It’s not clear exactly how much matcha helps but small amounts do add up. Keep in mind that the rest of your daily routine is still very important when it comes to losing weight. Matcha alone is probably not enough to get you to your weight loss goal.
That being said, matcha can offer you a lot of health benefits on top of the increase in weight loss. For a lot of people, it’s worth it to add this drink to their daily routine.