If, like most Americans, you haven’t heard of Yerba Mate - the national drink of Argentina - it’s about time you did. Why? Because it has the power to shrink your appetite, tame your cravings, rev you up and trim you down! Here’s why you should get in on South America’s top slimming secret…
Like any working mom, Dr. Shirley Impellizzeri is a busy woman. On a typical day, she counsels patients, offers expert court testimony, works on her upcoming book, chauffeurs her eight-year old, helps with homework, makes dinner and generally tries to keep her house from looking like hurricane alley. So It’s easy to see how she came to crave regular pick-me-ups.
“Mid-morning, I used to have a Danish or a donut,” sighs the famed L.A. psychologist. “Then in the afternoon, I’d have a muffin with coffee. Plus, burgers for lunch, huge bowls of pasta for dinner. It was stress related eating. I knew I wasn’t choosing the right foods, but I couldn’t seem to help myself.” For awhile, she tried to ignore the weight steadily creeping onto her petite 5’3” frame. Then came the morning when her favorite jeans wouldn’t button any more. She realized something had to give. “It was either forget shopping or lose weight,” she recalls, “ I decided to give weight loss a try.”
And is she ever glad she did! Fifteen pounds slimmer after just six weeks, the 37-year-old – affectionately known to patients as “Dr Shirley” – also doubled her energy and shrunk her appetite down in size. Did she squeeze a complicated diet or grueling exercise into her packed schedule? Nah. She simply discovered – make that rediscovered – a virtually effortlessly little trick, one she first tucked up her sleeve as a teenager exploring the world with her family…
Argentina’s sip-yourself-slim secret
Dr. Shirley’s initial inclination ad been to try the Zone, a celebfavorite diet that calls for drastically cutting carb consumption. “I had these terrible carbohydrates cravings, so it was difficult for me to stay with it.” The California native recalls. Yet she kept trying struggling… until a lucky day when wandering through a gourmet deli, she had a lightbulb moment. There, sitting on a shelf, was a package of Yerba Mate -a tea she’d first sipped as a girl….
“For three years while I was in high school, my parents took us to live near relatives in Argentina, where yerba mate is part of the cultural tradition, kind of like coffee is for Americans,” she explains. “I remember that the younger people realized drinking yerba mate made us eat less and lose weight. We purposely drank lots of it to keep nice and trim. It wasn’t anything scientific back then, just teenage girls wanting to look good. But when I remembered that, I did some research.” What she found inspired her to begin drinking two to three cups of the spicy herbal brew a day. And those cups of tea prompted her incredibly effortless weight loss.
Considering the kind of results Dr. Shirley got, it’s no surprise word of yerba mate’s slimming power has begun to spread. In Scottsdale, Arizona, hairstylist Jamie Rosen shed a whooping 45 pounds after a friend insisted she try it. San Francisco yoga instructor Stephanie Bernstein had her first taste of the tea at a health-food store where they were handing out free samples; she took some home and promptly dropped 10 incredibly stubborn pounds. And then there are the folks who’ve tested yerba mate in a more formal setting – specifically a research lab. One group given supplements spiked with yerba mated lost over 10 times more weight than those who go a sugar pill instead. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” says one top doc involved in the yerba mated studies. “The weight-loss results using yerba mate were truly remarkable.”
What yerba mate can do for you
Do you feel as though your metabolism is stalled? Do you have strong urges to eat that sabotage your efforts to slim down? Yerba mate can offer relief from both problems, say experts. Here’s how:
It will boost your ability to burn calories.
When scientists at the Universite de Lausanne in the Switzerland tested different plants said to have fat-burning properties, only yerba mate was found to possess real power to melt flab. It works its magic courtesy of something called the “thermogenic effect,” which essentially triggers the body to turn excess calories (calories that would otherwise end up in fat cells) into heat that simply rises off the skin and disappears, explains Lynn Anderson, N.D., Ph.D., author of several health and nutrition books. And by causing more calories to be burned than usual, the thermogenic effect makes it easy to burn off more calories than we consume-which in turn, forces stored fat to be burned!
“It definitely revved me up and speeded up my metabolism,” confirms Dr. Shirley. Jamie eventually came to the same conclusion-but first she had a lot of scepticism to overcome. “I’m a realist, so I didn’t believe there was a ‘super-tea’ you could drink with your Krispy Kremes and still lose weight,” says the mom of two, 39. “But a friend who heard me constantly complaining about my weight frustration said, ‘You have to try it. I’ll give you a box.’ I made a big jugful and started drinking it with ice.” To Jamie’s surprise, she dropped from a size 12 to a size 6 in two months-and the shrinking didn’t stop there. “One day, I pulled on a pair of size 6 pants, and I was swimming in them!” she says. “So I got out a box of my ‘pre-mommy’ clothes and pulled on a pair of size 4 jeans. They fit!
It fills you up as much as an entire meal would.
A Danish study published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics found that a supplement containing yerba mate slowed the release of stomach contents by a full 20 minutes, so test subjects felt full sooner and longer. The effect not only left volunteers
satisfied, it left them skinny: in 45 days, people taking the yerba mate combination lost 16 times more weight than those who didn’t. (Note: you’ll need to sip yerba mated during or soon after meals to maximize this effect, say experts.)
Yerba mate also helps curb hunger by meeting a surprising number of the body’s nutritional requirements for zero calories. A French study found that it contains almost all of the vitamins and minerals necessary to sustain life: calcium, iron potassium, magnesium, vitamins A, C, E and more.
Dr. Shirley is so stuffed thanks to drinking the tea that she has all but give up snacks and has to remind herself to eat meals. “Often, the morning goes by, and suddenly it’s 2 p.m. and I still haven’t felt a hunger pang,” she says. Jamie noticed her appetite disappearing too-especially for the sugary foods that once sabotaged her weight loss. “I used to wake up wanting cookies,” she says. “But since I started the tea, I don’t have those unstoppable cravings. Even my husband noticed the difference.”
It doubles your energy without caffeine jitters.
What if exercise was suddenly something you wanted to do? Well. When you start drinking yerba mate tea, don’t be surprised if that happens! “Yerba mate contains a chemical compound called mateine, which is thought by many authorities to be identical to caffeine with one exception-it doesn’t cause jitteriness,” notes Raymond M. Lombardi, D.C., N.D., a certified herbalist based in Redding, California. “But like caffeine, it has a stimulating effect on metabolism.” A faster metabolism not only means you burn more calories, it means you turn more calories into energy. So your get-up-and-go goes through the roof!
Dr. Shirley, Jamie and Stephanie all found this out firsthand. Says Dr. Shirley; “I started walking so much more. If I needed to go a few blocks, I’d walk instead of taking the car. I’d take a walk after dinner. I enjoyed it!” Jamie, who had never exercised consistently before, suddenly got hooked on aerobics and strength training. Meanwhile, Stephanie found herself so much more revved up by yerba mate that she automatically started doing her regular yoga routines more vigorously. “My clothes fit differently almost immediately!” she says.
It soothes moodiness-and curbs emotional eating.
One more thing about mateine: it’s a double-duty compound. As it stimulates the metabolism into turning more calories to energy, it simultaneously soothes the nervous system. You feel less nervous and anxious, and you’re better able to resist physical and mental fatigue, says Daniel Mowrey, Ph.D., who first began researching yerba mate over 25 years ago. “improvement in mood, especially in cases of depression, often follows drinking the tea,” he says. And that takes the temptation out of fattening comfort foods.
Dr. Shirley can vouch for that. “Taking care of other people’s needs is a stressful job. Before, it felt like there were never enough hours in the day,” she says. But with the tea? “I’m not always stressed out about getting everything done anymore. I’m calmer. Of course, I also get a lot more things done in a day, so I not only handle things better, I have less to worry about!” Certainly losing weight is no longer a worry for Dr. Shirley. “All of a sudden, I found myself changing in front of the mirror again,” she says. “I felt really good, and was calling all my friends to tell them about my weight loss!” Adds Jamie: “Everyone laughed after I had my kids and talked about getting back into my pre-pregnancy clothed. But I’m the one who’s laughing now!”
So what are you waiting for? Brew a cup of yerba mate tea and get on the road to a slimmer, more energized and less stressed you. Oh, then take a little “psychological” advice from Dr. Shirley: treat yourself to some skinny jeans and a sexy new top!
October 21, 2003