If you type “Does Yerba Mate Help You Lose Weight?” into Google, you’ll be bombarded with 1,850,000 results, which is a lot. So, let me save you the trouble of sifting through dozens of articles of varying quality and give you an answer here and now. Yes, drinking Yerba Mate will help you lose weight. Science backs this. Anecdotal evidence backs this. And more than a handful of nutritionists, weight-loss coaches and even Dr. Oz (that doesn’t mean much, but still) backs this. We’ll get into the nitty-gritty details in a bit, but it’s important to make one important note before jumping in.
Drinking Yerba Mate will help you lose weight, but not without doing the work. Everyone who peddles these miraculous Yerba Mate weight-loss pills, powdered drinks and others fairy tale-like solutions are BS-ing you if you actually believe that taking a pill will all of a sudden cause your waistline to shrink. It doesn’t work that way. In order to lose weight, you need to do the work, which means exercising, eating well and changing your lifestyle. Yerba Mate just helps with all of that.
Now for the details of how Yerba Mate actually helps you lose weight.
Yerba Mate enhances physical performance
Due to the mix of three stimulants – caffeine, theophylline and theobromine – drinking Yerba Mate before, while or after you exercise decreases physical fatigue and increases energy. Caffeine is caffeine, and we all know how much it can wake you up and increase both mental and physical performance. Theophylline increases blood flow, and is also found in inhalers because it assists with breathing. Theobromine is found in tea and chocolate and puts you in a better mood while also widening your blood vessels. All of this makes Yerba Mate the perfect pre or post-workout.
Drinking Yerba Mate decreases belly fat
Some of the research cited in this piece are a mix of studies performed on mice and humans. And while some could say, “Hey! Who says studies performed on mice means the same effects will happen with humans?” you wouldn’t be wrong. But the reasons rats and mice are used in science studies, aside from the sheer logistics of being easy to experiment on, is that their “genetic, biological and behavioral characteristics closely resemble those of humans, and many symptoms of human conditions can be replicated in mice and rats.” So, there you go.
Now, onto the meat, or fat, of this specific point. Scientists have found that drinking Yerba Mate can be used to potentially treat obesity, body weight gain and diabetes because it increases your metabolism, while also decreasing cholesterol, glucose and triglycerides (fat in blood).
What’s even crazier is that in one study, where scientists gave 12 different commercially available plant preparations (capsules or another form) to non-obese men and women, none of the plant preparations showed any signs of helping to decrease obesity except one: Yerba Mate.
In another clinical study (double-blind, placebo-controlled), scientists gave men and women Yerba Mate capsules three times per day over 12 weeks. What they found was astonishing. The group who took the Yerba Mate capsules (versus the placebo pill) experienced a 3.6% decrease in body fat mass, 3.0% decrease in percent body fat and .4% decrease in waist-to-hip ratio.
Ingesting Yerba Mate increases fat burn
Back on the topic of increased metabolism, scientists found that ingesting Yerba Mate while exercising helps your body burn more fat (also known as thermogenesis) than when exercising without Yerba Mate. They performed an experiment with fourteen healthy males and females (humans, by the way) who either took 1000mg of Yerba Mate or placebo capsules 60 minutes before exercising. The results were amazing, and speak for themselves; those who took the Yerba Mate capsules experienced 24% more fatty acid oxidation (FAO), which means they burned 24% more of the acids in our bodies that are partially responsible for producing body fat compared to those people who didn’t take the Yerba Mate capsules. It’s also important to note that no significant adverse effects were observed.
Yerba Mate curbs appetite
Gastric emptying is how quickly your stomach empties itself, or, in other words, how long you feel full before you want to eat again. In one study, scientists created an herbal infusion of Yerba Mate, Guarana and Damiana (YGD). They observed gastric emptying via an ultrasound scan of seven healthy volunteers, some of which took the YGD pills and some who took placebo capsules (Study 1). Then, they observed body weight in 44 overweight patients after 10 days of them taking the YGD capsules three times, with a meal, per day (Study 2). Conversely, 47 other overweight patients were given a placebo pill for a period of 45 days (Study 3). And, they also monitored body weight for 22 patients who continued taking the real YGD capsules for 12 months (Study 4). So, before moving forward, there were four studies being conducted by one group of researches over different time periods.
At this point, I’m sure you can already guess what the results were. Those who took the YGD capsules felt 2.5% fuller than those who didn’t, they lost 62.5% more body weight after 10 days and 94% more over 45 days. And, at the end of 12 months, those who continued to take the YGD capsules maintained their weight (73 kg when they started versus 72.5 kg at the end of 12 months).
To quote the study, “The herbal preparation, YGD capsules, significantly delayed gastric emptying, reduced the time to perceived gastric fullness and induced significant weight loss over 45 days in overweight patients treated in a primary health care context. Maintenance treatment given in an uncontrolled context resulted in no further weight loss, nor weight regain in the group as a whole. The herbal preparation is thus shown to be one that significantly modulates gastric emptying.”
Yerba Mate has anti-inflammatory effects
Inflammation is the body’s response to harmful agents e.g. infections, pathogens, viruses, disease, etc. It can manifest itself in swelling, redness, pain, warmth and more; it’s sort of like an alarm system of our body, which lets us know when something bad is going down and that the body is trying to heal itself. So in a way, it’s a good thing. But it’s also potentially bad because it can result in chronic diseases and lead to weight gain, since it causes leptin, which is a weight control hormone, to be less effective.
In one study, Yerba Mate was found to inhibit the production of TNF-α and IL-6, which are cells and proteins that lead to inflammation.
Yes, Yerba Mate helps you lose weight
Whew, that was a lot of science. But today, science is more necessary than ever given the overwhelming amount of articles, “gurus” and health coaches making wild claims about the extravagant and exaggerated effects of plants and herbs, which may not always be true. Drinking Yerba Mate won’t suddenly cause you to lose weight, but it will help in a variety of real, observable and tangible ways, so long as you get up and put the work in.
Have you ever used Yerba Mate as a weight loss aid? Thinking about starting? Leave a comment or question below! The more the merrier. And be sure to share this article with a friend or two.
- Theobromine and the Pharmacology of Cocoa
- Anti-obesity and anti-diabetic effects of Yerba Mate (Ilex paraguariensis)
- Why Do Medical Researchers Use Mice?
- Yerba Maté (Illex Paraguariensis) ingestion augments fat oxidation and energy expenditure
- Thermogenic effects of commercially available plant preparations aimed at treating human obesity
- Anti-obesity effects of Yerba Mate (Ilex Paraguariensis): a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial
- Weight loss and delayed gastric emptying following a South American herbal preparation in overweight patients
- How Fats Work
- Inflammation and Overweight
- Anti-inflammatory effects of yerba maté extract (Ilex paraguariensis) ameliorate insulin resistance in mice with high fat diet-induced obesity