Drinking tea around exercise has many benefits for athletes. It helps:
- stay alert
- increase energy levels
- improve body composition
- boost the metabolism
- burn belly fat
- hydrate the body
- recover faster
Benefits of drinking green tea before exercise
Amateur and elite athletes should incorporate green tea into their pre-workout routine. It increases alertness, improves mood, delays fatigue, and positively affects sports performance.
Firstly, you should drink green tea before exercise because it has some caffeine.
Caffeine has positive effects on athletes. Caffeine may improve aerobic and anaerobic performance and delay fatigue. Also, it may help athletes lift more pounds, stay in focus during demanding exercise, and improve mood.[1,2]
In addition, caffeine can help athletes maintain a lean body year-round. High caffeine intake appears to promote weight loss. It helps burn belly fat and improve body composition, especially when combined with submaximal aerobic exercise performed after a fasting period.[3,4]
It seems that the best time to increase caffeine intake is 60 minutes before exercise.
So, drinking 1–2 cups of green tea before a workout seems a good idea for most athletes.
Which type of tea has the highest caffeine content?
A cup of tea has about 30-40 mg of caffeine per cup. Hence, two cups of tea are equivalent to a cup of coffee.
In general, black tea has about 50% more caffeine than green tea. Green tea has about 30 mg, while black tea can have up to 47 mg of caffeine per cup.
Decaffeinated tea has negligible amounts of caffeine. Typically, it has between 2 and 15 mg of caffeine per 8 oz cup.
So, how many cups of green tea can an athlete safely consume a day? Actually, even drinking 10 cups of green tea a day, you won’t exceed the maximum safe intake of caffeine, which is 400 mg.
An energy drink can have more caffeine than 8 cups of green tea!
Tea may help athletes focus & manage stress
Besides caffeine, tea may help athletes improve attention and focus because it’s high in an amino acid, called l-theanine. This amino acid can improve executive functions.
Most noteworthy, this amino acid may reduce stress and anxiety. Especially in people exposed to stressful conditions. Therefore, the daily tea consumption a couple of days before a major athletic event or a big race could relax athletes!
Drinking green tea before exercise improves athletic performance
Green tea consumption improves sports performance without any side effects.
One of the key factors behind its extraordinary qualities lies in its abundant content of catechins. These compounds increase the amount of available energy during a workout.
According to a study, short-term consumption of green tea extract in healthy untrained men increased the amount of energy available during 30 min of cycling at 60% of the maximum oxygen consumption!
Also, green tea may improve energy levels during exercise because it affects mitochondrial functions! Mitochondria are the power plants of cells.
Nitric oxide delays fatigue
Moreover, green tea improves sports performance because green tea polyphenols and catechins increase endothelial nitric oxide synthesis and vasodilation.
The production of nitric oxide helps transfer more oxygen to the muscles. This process is crucial for any athlete! Endurance athletes in particular can run faster and for longer, as nitric oxide improves maximum oxygen uptake, delaying fatigue!
The reduction of exercise-induced fatigue can improve sports performance in both amateur and elite athletes. It can help athletes achieve a personal record.
In fact, athletes should consume a wide variety of foods naturally high in nitric oxide in order, to regularly perform exhaustive workouts.
Why should I avoid drinking green tea before a workout?
Keep in mind that drinking too much tea before a long race or an athletic event may not be a good idea for some athletes. Drinking too much tea has been associated with an increased tendency to urinate.
Actually, athletes should be mindful of the consumed amount of all caffeinated beverages. Caffeine consumption has a well-known diuretic effect.
Benefits of drinking tea during exercise
Moreover, athletes could drink tea during exercise. Above all, it hydrates the body, while caffeine provides an extra boost of energy.
It’s a great alternative to water. Especially for people who have a hard time drinking tap water.
You could add lemon juice for an extra boost of electrolytes and vitamin C. Also, it provides flavor to your tea.
Moreover, you could add sugar or honey to your tea for energy. A cup of tea with a tablespoon of honey has fewer than 70 calories. Tea per se has fewer than 5 calories per cup!
Green tea with lemon juice and honey hydrates the body better than tap water. It has beneficial effects on restoring fluid balance.
Why should athletes drink green tea after the gym?
Exhausting exercise causes the formation of free radicals. Athletes should have a high antioxidant status to neutralize them. Otherwise, intense physical activity can lead to oxidative stress!
Well-trained athletes can perform intense exercise for a long time, without oxidative stress occurring. Fitness level plays a key role in this process.
Green and black tea fight exercise-induced oxidative stress because they’re packed with catechins and polyphenols. Especially, green tea is particularly rich in antioxidant compounds. It has up to 600 mg of polyphenols per cup!
These compounds have potent anti-inflammatory properties as well.
Oxidative stress induced by physical activity can substantially lower athletic performance! Therefore, it’s vital for athletes to consume a wide variety of foods high in antioxidants. Besides tea, athletes should daily consume vegetables, fruits, herbs, spices, and beans!
In addition, although drinking green tea after the gym doesn’t seem to reduce muscle soreness, it promotes muscle recovery.
Relieve muscle pain
Another beneficial effect of green tea for athletes is that it reduces muscle pain caused by improper exercise, bruising, and subsequent injuries.
Pineapple juice might relieve joint pain as well. Pineapple is the only food containing bromelain; a powerful anti-inflammatory compound.
Drink tea for a lean body
Furthermore, green tea, as part of a well-balanced diet, can help athletes lose weight and improve body composition. Tea combined with resistance or endurance exercise helps reduce body fat percentage.
Green tea catechins, called EGCG, play a major role in stimulating fat metabolism.
In addition, green tea supports weight loss during moderate-intensity exercise because it can improve insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance.
Two cups of green a day are more than enough for maintaining a lean body.
Avoid drinking green tea with your post-workout meal
Athletes have increased nutritional needs. For instance, iron deficiency is pretty common among athletes. So, they should be very cautious with the consumption timing of green tea or any other polyphenol-rich food.
The best time to drink green tea is between meals on an empty stomach. Also, we could drink tea in the morning, before breakfast.
How athletes should drink tea?
If you don’t like green tea, you could add sugar, honey, or any fruit juice. They provide extra energy, vitamins, and antioxidants!
Sugar or honey
Firstly, athletes could add 1–2 teaspoons of honey or table sugar to a cup of tea. Sugar is necessary for faster replenishment of muscle glycogen stores. This process is crucial for muscle recovery!
The best time to drink tea with sugar is around exercise!
Prefer honey to table sugar for a lean body. Honey has some antioxidants, while sugar is empty calories. Also, honey helps lose weight because it regulates the synthesis of appetite hormones.
Also, adding honey to any post-workout beverage supports electrolyte replenishment.
Additionally, you could drink any fruit juice with tea. Most fruit juices are packed with sugar.
Also, they’re packed with vitamin C, which has beneficial effects on muscle growth! Lemon, orange, and grapefruit juices are particularly high in vitamin C.
Thus, green tea with lemon juice and some honey is an excellent post-workout beverage!
Moreover, you could drink tea with cranberry juice. Cranberry juice is one of the richest dietary sources of melatonin. High melatonin intake has many benefits for athletes as well. For instance, it delays fatigue during a workout by managing glucose usage.
Another great juice for enhancing athletic performance is tart cherry juice. It has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
How to incorporate green tea into my daily eating routine?
Drinking a couple of cups of green tea with lemon juice on an empty stomach during the day is more than enough, in order, to skyrocket the antioxidant status of your body. Furthermore, before, during, and right after exercise, you could add sugar or honey to your tea for extra energy.
If you don’t enjoy drinking green or black tea, you could prepare tea ice tubes in bulk. You could use them in many recipes.
For instance, you could add green tea ice tubes to fruit juices, post-workout smoothies, and even soups.
How to prepare tea ice tubes in bulk?
To prepare a larger batch of green tea and lemon juice ice cubes, follow these steps:
- In a large pot, bring approximately 8 cups (2 liters) of water to a boil.
- Once the water is boiling, add 8 to 10 tablespoons of green tea leaves to the pot. Allow the tea to steep for 3 to 4 minutes.
- After steeping, remove the tea leaves from the pot and allow the green tea to cool to room temperature.
- Squeeze fresh lemon juice into the cooled green tea. You need around 1 to 1.5 cups of lemon juice. Adjust the quantity based on your taste preferences.
- Stir the green tea and lemon juice mixture gently to ensure the flavors are well combined.
- Prepare multiple ice cube trays, ensuring they are clean and dry.
- Pour the green tea and lemon juice mixture into the ice cube trays, filling each compartment up to about 3/4 full. Leave some room for expansion as the liquid freezes.
- Place the ice cube trays in the freezer and allow the mixture to freeze completely. This may take several hours or overnight, depending on your freezer’s temperature.
- Once the green tea and lemon juice mixture is completely frozen, remove the ice cube trays from the freezer.
- Carefully remove the tea ice cubes from the trays by gently twisting or tapping the trays.
- Store the tea ice cubes in a freezer-safe container or bag to maintain freshness.
- Enjoy a refreshing drink whenever you want.
Add herbs to your post-workout tea!
You could also add a mix of herbs to further spice up your tea ice tubes!
Herbs and spices are the most nutrient-dense foods. An athlete should consume them daily to substantially improve muscle recovery and sports performance!
Here are 9 examples of herbs and spices that can provide additional flavor to green tea with lemon juice:
- Mint: Adding fresh mint leaves or a dash of mint extract can give a refreshing and cooling twist to the tea.
- Ginger: Fresh ginger slices or grated ginger can add spice to the tea.
- Lemongrass: Lemongrass enhances the overall aroma of the tea.
- Cinnamon: A small cinnamon stick or a pinch of cinnamon powder can infuse a warm and comforting flavor.
- Cardamom: Adding a few crushed cardamom pods or a sprinkle of ground cardamom can lend a delightful, aromatic note.
- Basil: Fresh basil leaves can provide a hint of herbal sweetness and a slightly savory undertone.
- Thyme: A small sprig of fresh thyme can contribute a subtle earthy flavor to the tea.
- Lavender: Dried lavender flowers can add a floral and soothing touch.
- Cloves: Adding a couple of whole cloves or a pinch of ground cloves can introduce a warm and spicy taste. Cloves are the richest food in polyphenols! By far.
You can experiment with different combinations and adjust the quantities based on your personal preferences.
What’s the best tea for muscle recovery?
There are three types of tea: green tea, oolong tea, and black tea. All have a similar nutritional value. You should consume the tea that you enjoy the most.
As a rule of thumb, black tea has more caffeine, while green tea has a higher polyphenol concentration. The major polyphenol in green tea is catechin, while the major polyphenol in black tea is tannin. All teas have small amounts of vitamins, amino acids, and carbohydrates.
Also, you could add matcha tea powder to your post-workout smoothies. Matcha tea has a superior nutritional value as well. For instance, it’s one of the richest foods in chlorophyll.
High chlorophyll intake is particularly beneficial for athletes. It helps supply oxygen to the tissues, detoxes the body, and increases energy levels.
How much green tea should athletes drink a day?
As a rule of thumb, athletes should drink 2 cups of green tea a day in order, to take advantage of its health benefits. Higher dosages may be beneficial as well.
Always consult your healthcare provider before changing your diet.