Yerba mate is packed with beneficial plant compounds, so for once there may actually be something to a weight loss gimmick.
It contains xanthines, such as caffeine and theobromine, which act as stimulants and can increase energy levels and mental focus. Yerba mate is also rich in caffeoyl derivatives, which are potent antioxidants that promote overall health. And of course, caffeine is actually known to work to suppress appetite as well as getting people to move more, so there's already one compound that we know does actually do something. Of course, that doesn't answer if there's enough of it in Yerba Mate to make a difference or if it's any better than just taking a caffeine pill, but at least we're off to a good start.
Saponins, another group of compounds found in yerba mate, have anti-inflammatory and cholesterol-lowering properties. Additionally, yerba mate is a great source of polyphenols, a type of antioxidant that has been linked to a reduced risk of various diseases. The high content of essential minerals and vitamins in yerba mate supports immune system function, detoxification, and disease prevention. Although there are much better supplements for inflammation, cholesterol and the like.
So, there's a lot to unpack here.
Short Answer: There is actually some evidence to support Yerba Mate as a weight loss aid at a dosage of over 3 grams per day (most supplements containing it have significantly less. And a lot of it's benefits if not all come from it's caffeine content with approximately 80 milligrams of caffeine per serving of this size, which is similar to cup of strong coffee.
The Claims Around Yerba Mate Weight Loss
There are ultimately 4 ways in which Yerba Mate can theoretically help weight loss, without getting into the nitty gritty of how reduced inflamation can increase mobility and help reduce weight gain in certain populations. And a lot of these are the same as caffeine, so there's a reasonable claim, but once again the question becomes whether or not it's just the caffeine doing all the work and you can the results of several caffeine only or coffee studies showing similar results to Yerba.
Boosting Metabolism and Burning Fat with Yerba Mate
One of the key ways in which yerba mate can support weight management is by boosting metabolism and promoting fat burning. The caffeine content in yerba mate increases energy expenditure and calorie burn, helping to create a calorie deficit necessary for weight loss. It also enhances mental focus and alertness, making it easier to stay motivated and engaged in physical activities. Yerba mate has been shown to increase the utilization of stored fat for energy, which can contribute to a reduction in body weight and fat mass. The cardio-protective saponins in yerba mate aid in the efficient breakdown and utilization of cholesterol and lipid reserves.
In a study of people with overweight, those who consumed 3 grams of yerba mate powder per day lost an average of 1.5 pounds and reduced their waist-to-hip ratio by 2% over a 12-week period. In comparison, the placebo group gained weight and increased their waist-to-hip ratio. These findings indicate that yerba mate may support weight loss efforts and contribute to the reduction of belly fat.
Supporting Digestion and Detoxification
Yerba mate has natural diuretic and purifying properties that can contribute to healthy digestion and detoxification. It helps to eliminate toxins from the body and promotes bowel movement, ensuring the efficient removal of waste products. Yerba mate's minimal sodium content prevents fluid retention, while its digestive properties aid in the breakdown and absorption of nutrients. By keeping your digestive system healthy and functioning optimally, yerba mate can support weight management and overall well-being.
Improving Sports Performance and Reducing Fatigue
For those engaging in physical activities as part of their weight loss journey, yerba mate can be a valuable ally. It has been shown to improve muscle contractions, reduce fatigue, and enhance sports performance. The caffeine content in yerba mate can increase endurance and stamina, allowing you to exercise for longer periods without feeling exhausted. The energizing effect of yerba mate can help you push through challenging workouts and achieve better results. By incorporating yerba mate into your pre-workout routine, you can optimize your physical performance and maximize your weight loss efforts.
In a study, participants who consumed a gram of ground yerba mate leaves before exercise burned 24% more fat during moderate-intensity exercise. This suggests that yerba mate increases the reliance on fat for fuel during exercise, thereby improving endurance and performance. Again caffeine shows similar results as a stand alone.
Satiety and Appetite Control
Yerba mate can play a role in appetite control and promoting a feeling of satiety. Drinking yerba mate can make you feel full for longer periods, reducing the temptation to overeat or snack between meals. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals who struggle with portion control or emotional eating. By helping to regulate appetite, yerba mate can support weight management by preventing excessive calorie intake.
Safety and Side Effects of Yerba Mate
While yerba mate is generally safe for occasional consumption, regular and excessive consumption may pose certain risks. Drinking large amounts of yerba mate over a long period has been associated with an increased risk of upper respiratory and digestive tract cancers. This may be due to the presence of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and the consumption of very hot Yerba mate, which can damage the respiratory and digestive tract lining.
Yerba mate contains caffeine, and excessive caffeine consumption can lead to headaches, migraines, and high blood pressure in some individuals.
Is Yerba Mate Good for Weight Loss?
Ultimately due to it's caffeine content there's reasonable evidence to suggest that taking 3-12 grams a day of Yerba Mate does improve weight loss, as this is a similar dose of 1-4 coffees this isn't a particular surprise. As to the question of whether or not it's good in a mixed dietary supplement, we'd say most likely no as it takes up too much capsule space. But, if you want to drink a Yerba Preperation instead of coffee or a caffeine pill for some reason it should have some positive effect.