Drink green tea to speed recovery from training and lose body fat. The wonders of green tea on health and body composition are well known. However, new research indicates that to get the best results from green tea, you need to get a fairly high dose every day.
For example, a recent study in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports tested the effect of giving trained young men who were doing endurance training a placebo or a highly concentrated green tea beverage daily for 10 weeks. Results showed that the group that took the green tea increased the amount of body fat that was being burned during exercise, as measured by a marker called the respiratory exchange ratio (RER).
When the RER is higher, it indicates that more carbohydrates are being used for energy, whereas when it is lower, it means that more body fat is being used. RER was significantly lower in the group that took the green tea, and researchers think this is because the antioxidants in green tea activate the Beta oxidation of fat.
You might wonder if it was the caffeine in the green tea that increased fat burning. However, the amount in the test beverage was equal to 1 mg/kg/bw of caffeine, which has been proven to be too low a dose to boost performance or shift the body into fat burning mode.
This study is important for two reasons. First, it is not easy to shift the body into a fat burning mode, but taking green tea extract pre-workout is a simple and effective way to do so. Second, burning fat during endurance exercise is uncommon because the body first calls on stored muscle glycogen and carbohydrates for fuel. Fat burning tends to happen once muscle glycogen is depleted, which only occurs after about 90 minutes of endurance exercise. Green tea supplementation could be used to boost fat loss in endurance athletes. It could also be used to spare glycogen during long and intense training to increase time to exhaustion and boost performance.
The green tea drink used in this study was a concentrated green tea extract that provided 572 mg of antioxidants, which approximately corresponds to the amount in six or seven cups of green tea. To get this dose, you could down a lot of green tea pre-workout or take a highly concentrated green tea extract in liquid or capsule form.
Another cool finding about green tea is that taking it can speed recovery from intense training because the antioxidants will enhance the immune system and neutralize free radicals produced during exercise. A study using mice in the journal Basic and Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology found that giving the animals a large green tea dose of 100 mg/kg/bodyweight every day for 15 days prevented behavioral and biochemical deterioration due to intense swim training.
Results showed that the green tea prevented oxidative stress markers from becoming elevated, and there was almost no evidence of anxiety and chronic fatigue, which was present to a significant degree in mice that did not receive the green tea. The high green tea dose almost normalized all tested markers to levels equal to a control group that did no exercise.
In this study, smaller green tea doses of 25 and 50 mg/kg/bw were also tested , and they did decrease evidence of chronic fatigue, anxiety, and oxidative stress in a dose response manner. However, the 100 mg/kg/bw dose was the most effective, nearly producing baseline levels.
Take away the understanding that large doses of green tea can help you recover from intense training because the antioxidants will help clear the acute inflammatory response. You will feel fresher post-workout and be able to go hard again sooner. Additionally, more fat will be burned for fuel, helping you drop body fat, while increasing time to exhaustion.
Ichinose, T., Nomura, S., et al. The Effect of Endurance Training Supplemented with Green Tea Extract on Substrate Metabolism during Exercise in Humans. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports. 2011. 21, 598-605.
Sachdeva, A., Kuhad, A., et al. Protective Effect of Epigallocatechin Gallate in Murine Water-Immersion Stress Model of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Basic and Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology. 2010. 106, 490-496.