April 25, 2016

Having just spent most Sunday watching a marathon and with some very tired legs at work on Monday, we wanted to look at some facts (and fiction) – does tea actually help the athlete training or recovering from a long distance event?

Please note: this is by no means a fully comprehensive scientific ore medical study and does not aim to draw any conclusions, but none the less some interesting key facts for you to consider.

Does tea hydrate or dehydrate you?

We know the average 8-oz or 250ml cup of black tea has approximately 50mg of caffeine (this may vary from 40mg to 100mg depending on how strong you make it); while green tea has significantly less caffeine and herbal teas negligible or no caffeine at all.

According to numerous studies, Caffeine in extremely high doses can dehydrate the body but it’s not all bad news - all research shows this to be at levels of 500mg or more. So even if you brew a really strong cup of black tea you would have to drink 10 or more cups in a day to reach that level; and this completely then ignores the fact that you have drunk 80oz or 2.4 liters of fluid in the process, which is probably enough to rehydrate you again as is more than most drink on average per day!

Coffee is slightly different, by comparison an 8oz cup of brewed black coffee has anywhere between 100-200 mg of caffeine, (depending on how strong you make it) and an espresso 50-75mg.

So you can drink slightly less here, but again not sure many drink 8+ espressos every day. If however you do, make sure if drink LOTS of water! Lastly to further complicate the issue, bear in mind that caffeine does not only occur in tea and coffee; it is found in chocolate and numerous sports drinks (artificially added caffeine) as this does help endurance athletes.

So like most things it is best to take a holistic view and look at your whole diet that includes a wide select of organic fruits and vegetables etc. when considering its effects.

What are the benefits of drinking tea for endurance?

Various studies from Japan have shown that green tea may improve athletic endurance. This is mainly due to the fact that green tea helps fight free radicals (anti-oxidant), due to its high polyphenol content (organic chemicals found in plants, which have various different properties, e.g. anti-inflammatory).

The polyphenols in green tea, the most abundant of which is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), have been shown to help reduce cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure. Another key constituent of green tea is the amino acid l-theanine, which has been shown to increase the activity of the anti-anxiety neurotransmitter GABA and levels of the ‘pleasure’ neurotransmitter dopamine.

Although views on the effect of athletic performance are mixed, tea consumption may support physical activity through its preventive functions and the stimulating impacts of caffeine. From there on it gets very technical, so suffice to say its good for you, but as suggested always as part of a general healthy diet and program rather than one single ‘magic bullet’.

In summary:

For all those very tired legs today and over the coming week. We suggest having a good 'old cuppa' of organic black or green tea and enjoy! Tea not only soothes the soul, but it makes you feel better and it also may just help you recover that little bit quicker. After all when it comes to peak athletic performance, it’s the very small differences that may result in you wining by a fraction or running your personal best! Happy recovery and keep on running!

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