Tea and Exercise

By William I. Lengeman III

The next time you’re exercising and you’re ready to reach for one of those sports drinks, you might want to think twice. There’s evidence that indicates that tea helps boost exercise performance and may even help us burn fat while exercising.

Green Tea

A study done in Brazil found that green tea might “offer a protective effect against oxidative damaged induced by resistance exercise,” as one researcher put it. The study was undertaken by researchers from the Federal University of Santa Catarina, and the Center of Physical Education, Physiotherapy and Sports of Santa Catarina State University.

The Brazilian researchers studied 14 healthy men aged 19 to 30 who consumed water or green tea three times daily for seven days. They found that there was a 64 per cent reduction in the levels of lipid hydroperoxide after exercise for those who drank green tea and a 37 percent increase in levels of a beneficial protein known as glutathione.

Another study of the links between tea and exercise was conducted by Japanese researchers. They tested the effect of green tea extracts on endurance exercise performance and reported an increase in performance of up to 24 percent in mice who were given GTE in amounts that for humans would be equivalent to about four cups of tea daily. Researchers noted that long-term ingestion of GTE gave results where single doses did not.

Green tea extracts also played a part in a study on tea and exercise carried out by researchers at the University of Birmingham. They tested 12 healthy young men who were given GTE before exercising and discovered that it improved fat oxidization and improved insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance. Researchers said the EGCG in green tea was apparently responsible for improving fat oxidization.

The lead researcher in this study said that many nutritional supplements sold as fat burners tended to be ineffective. He pointed out that “the best way to increase the capacity to burn fat is by regular physical activity,” but said the results of the study were “very exciting.”

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