Those looking to impress co-workers or a spouse might whip out a matcha bowl and whisk to prepare a cup of matcha in place of a banal cup of coffee. But it’s not all just fanciful, hipster showmanship. While that green frothy tea may pack a low-acid caffeine punch, it’s also useful as an endurance booster.
Studies have shown that matcha, a specially grown form of green tea where one actually consumes the finely ground leaves, has positive effects on energy expenditure during exercise. One study found that green tea catechins and regular exercise resulted in increased energy expenditure via body fat utilization in both sedentary and exercise groups (versus exercise alone) while another concluded that “habitual use of green tea and moderate to intense exercise increased whole body fat utilization during exercise.”
Green tea has also been found to be one of the best dietary sources of antioxidants, with powdered varieties like matcha proving to be even more effective.
Bioflavonoids: kaempferol, myricetin, and quercetin, catechins: ellagic acid and gallic acid, caffeine, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), L-theanine.
In this study, 14 healthy male (26 to 42 years old) subjects were given a beverage containing tea catechins (or placebo) for two months and then given a treadmill exercise at 5 km/h for 30 minutes, three times a week. An indirect colorimetry test measured the energy expenditure of subjects before and during exercise. The findings conclude that green tea catechins and regular exercise resulted in increased energy expenditure via body fat utilization in both sedentary and exercise groups (versus exercise alone).
In this study, 12 healthy males performed an ergometer exercise at 60% VO2 peak (the measurement of the volume of oxygen that the body can utilize during physical exertion) for 60 minutes a day, three days a week while ingesting green tea extract and catechins versus placebo daily for 10 weeks. The results showed that habitual use of green tea extract and moderate intense exercise increased whole body fat utilization during exercise.
Ichinose, T et al. “Effect of endurance training supplemented with green tea extract on substrate metabolism during exercise in humans.” Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports vol. 21,4 (2011): 598-605. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0838.2009.01077.x
This review showed that green tea extract and caffeine improved endurance performance and fat oxidation.
Kim, Jisu et al. “Nutrition Supplements to Stimulate Lipolysis: A Review in Relation to Endurance Exercise Capacity.” Journal of nutritional science and vitaminology vol. 62,3 (2016): 141-61. doi:10.3177/jnsv.62.141
In this study, the effect of different extraction conditions and storage time of prepared infusions on the content of bioactive compounds of green teas and their antioxidant capacity were investigated. Regardless of the extraction conditions all green teas exhibited significant antioxidant capacity in vitro, which was in correlation with their phenolic content, confirming that green tea is one of the best dietary sources of antioxidants.
In this vitro study, powdered green tea was show to have a higher inhibition effect of ROS (reactive oxygen species) production versus leaf tea.
Fujioka, Kouki et al. “The Powdering Process with a Set of Ceramic Mills for Green Tea Promoted Catechin Extraction and the ROS Inhibition Effect.” Molecules (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 21,4 474. 11 Apr. 2016, doi:10.3390/molecules21040474
In this study, mice were fed seven different diets for four weeks. The first diet was a normal, control diet. The second was a high fat diet. For the third, the mice were given a high fat diet plus 0.025% matcha. The fourth diet was a high fat diet with 0.05% matcha. The fifth was a high fat diet with 0.075% matcha. The sixth was a high fat diet with 0.05% match aqueous extract. The seventh was a high fat diet with 0.05% match residues over four weeks. The results showed diet number five – high fat with .075% matcha – significantly decreased serum total cholesterol and triglycerides versus diet number two, and also increased HDL & decreased LDL. Matcha significantly decreased blood glucose levels, improved SOD activity and MAD levels in serum and liver, and reversed the oxidative stress caused by diet number as per serum GSH-Px activity. This study thus confirmed that matcha is a great antioxidant.
Xu, Ping et al. “The effects of the aqueous extract and residue of Matcha on the antioxidant status and lipid and glucose levels in mice fed a high-fat diet.” Food & function vol. 7,1 (2016): 294-300. doi:10.1039/c5fo00828j