Green tea is a star!
It has been popular in Japan and China for hundreds of years. But in the last decade, its popularity has skyrocketed in the west, too.
Plenty of research has gone into the benefits of drinking green tea, but there are also still a lot of questions.
And a lot of unverified claims.
People will tell you that you absolutely need to drink green tea only after meals, or only before bedtime.
Or to only drink green tea on an empty stomach.
What do you believe?
The truth is: you can drink tea whenever the mood strikes. The benefits are the same.
And drinking it on an empty stomach won’t do any harm. For most of us.
For some people, it can cause problems. If you’re one of them, you’ll want to wait until after you’ve eaten to have your first cup of tea.
Let’s look at the possible benefits and drawbacks of having green tea before a meal, when your stomach is still empty.
Drinking Green Tea On An Empty Stomach: Does It Impact Digestive Health?
Drinking a hot cup of tea first thing in the morning may not be the best idea. Drinking tea before you eat can lead to a number of health issues for some, including an increased level of acidity in the stomach, indigestion, and heartburn.
On the other hand, it can also suppress the appetite and in some people, may even suppress gastric juice secretions which can reduce acid and bile in the stomach.
Overall, the effects of consuming a caffeinated beverage tend to vary from person to person and can heavily depend on how sensitive you are to caffeine and whether or not you have current health issues such as chronic indigestion, acid reflux, or GERD.
The Effects of Acidity
For the most part, green tea is considered gentle on the stomach, especially compared to carbonated drinks and coffee.
But people who have certain stomach issues, like GERD, may experience stomach discomfort if they drink tea prior to eating.
Green tea contains tannins, which can increase the acidity in the stomach. An increase in stomach acidity can cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, stomach pain, muscle spasms in the stomach, and constipation.
That said, this type of increase in stomach acid production tends to be more common when drinking coffee on an empty stomach. Coffee beans are much more acidic than tea.
But in people with preexisting stomach issues such as GERD, recurring sour stomach, or anyone who is especially caffeine-sensitive, such an increase in stomach acid production can be risky, especially if you’re struggling to manage your condition and you’re following a special diet.
Since it contains caffeine, drinking tea first thing in the morning on an empty stomach can also cause headaches or migraines. People who are sensitive to caffeine, especially people who have migraines that are triggered by caffeine consumption, should limit their daily tea intake and should avoid drinking tea one to two hours before eating.
People who suffer from chronic anxiety find that drinking beverages that contain caffeine tend to worsen their symptoms or increase their feelings of anxiousness, stress, and restlessness.
Drinking tea before a meal means you’ll feel the effects of the caffeine more powerfully than if you drank the tea right after a meal. When the caffeine hits you harder, you may also experience an increase in anxiety.
Tea also contains L-theanine, which can induce feelings of calm. In some people, it can also increase mental focus and alertness, which can disrupt a healthy sleep pattern.
Then there is the caffeine.
As mentioned earlier, drinking tea on an empty stomach means you to feel the full effects of the caffeine. The primary adverse effect of caffeine is that it can keep you up at night. This can lead to insomnia, tossing and turning throughout the night, and an increase in anxiety.
Because tea does not contain a huge amount of caffeine. most don’t have this issue and can safely drink tea before going to bed, as long as they limit themselves to a reasonable amount (a small cup).
If you are sensitive to caffeine, avoiding tea two to three hours before bedtime can help prevent any sleep issues that may occur.
The Benefits Of Tea First Thing In The Morning
While drinking tea before your morning meal may not be the best idea if you have a low caffeine tolerance, those that don’t may actually benefit from drinking a hot cup before breakfast.
It’s Better For People With Anemia
Did you know that green tea can negatively impact the body’s ability to absorb iron?
The reason behind this is simple. If you’re anemic, the catechins in the green tea can block iron absorption.
However, if you consume tea one to two hours before or after a meal, then this prevents the catechin content from impacting iron absorption. Drinking it first thing, long before you have breakfast, means it will not impact your body’s iron absorption.
Contrary to popular belief, caffeine isn’t dehydrating. While it’s true that tea is a diuretic, the amount of water your body loses is minimal.
Since tea is 95% water, you take in far more than you lose due to the diuretic effect. This means that tea is not dehydrating at all.
In fact, it is a great source of hydration. Every cup you drink will help replenish the water content in your body. In addition, you also get some very useful compounds such as antioxidants and L-theanine, both of which offer a variety of health benefits.
A Natural Energy Boost
One of the main reasons people drink tea, aside from the health benefits, is the natural boost of energy they experience from the caffeine. Tea is a great choice over coffee since tea doesn’t have the same type of acidity that coffee does and doesn’t have nearly as much caffeine.
If you’re looking for a more mellow way to wake up in the morning than the wired and jittery feeling you get from coffee, then tea is a much better alternative. Additionally, since it doesn’t have as much caffeine you can also enjoy more of it without the fear of getting the jitters or an upset stomach. However, this can vary from person to person and will depend on how sensitive you are to caffeine.
Drinking Green Tea On An Empty Stomach For Weight Loss?
Weight loss is one of the main health benefits commonly associated with green tea. Tea is believed to promote weight loss by boosting the metabolism.
The catechin content in tea can also help break down excess fat in the body, while the caffeine provides a natural energy boost.
Research has shown that while green tea can help to improve metabolism efficiency, the results in terms of weight loss are relatively small. Studies found that green tea for weight loss was more effective when used in conjunction with diet and exercise.
To lose weight, drinking two to three cups of tea throughout the day is recommended. It does not matter when you drink it and whether it’s on an empty stomach or not.
Out of all green teas, matcha is the most potent. It is a powder made from whole tea leaves, so you consume the entire leaf, not just the essence. This means more of all the nutrients, as well as more caffeine. There are many other differences between regular green tea and matcha. My matcha guide has more on this powdered tea.
Should I Drink Green Tea Before Or After Meals?
If you’re not sensitive to caffeine, drinking green tea before a meal is perfectly fine. However, the tannin content in green tea can increase stomach acidity, which can lead to sour stomach and heartburn. If you have problems with this, wait a minimum of 30 minutes after a meal to drink your tea.
Does Green Tea Cause Gas And Bloating?
It can, but not for most people. If you have GERD, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, then you may notice that your symptoms are somewhat aggravated shortly after you’ve enjoyed your morning cup of tea.
Unfortunately, if you’re suffering from acid reflux, GERD, or you tend to get heartburn at the drop of the hat, then your only viable option may be to consume tea in strict moderation.
You can also alter the amount of tannins and caffeine in your tea by steeping the leaves for a shorter period of time. Using smaller cups and cutting your usual serving size in half can also be helpful. Perhaps the best solution is to brew your tea cold, which also has other benefits.
Tea On An Empty Stomach: Final Thoughts
There’s no question that drinking tea is healthy, but for some people, how and when they drink it can have an impact on their overall health, especially in people diagnosed with acid reflux, GERD, or other types of digestive issues.
Essentially, drinking green tea on an empty stomach is safe. Much more so than drinking coffee, since tea is not nearly as acidic. However, if you’re sensitive to caffeine, then eating prior to drinking your first cup of tea in the morning can prevent indigestion and heartburn throughout the day.
In any case, drinking a cup of tea before you eat is a much better option than drinking a carbonated drink or a cup of coffee, both of which contain harmful additives, and artificial colors and flavors.