With everything we know about the health benefits of our favourite drink, now we’re beginning to see athletes using tea to their advantage. Studies in sports medicine regard tea as a beneficial part of improving performance, recovery and endurance.
Dehydration impedes performance and causes fatigue and cramp. Athletes will struggle to compete at their maximum if they aren’t hydrated. Young athletes who have grown up with flavourful drinks can find constantly drinking water challenging and the great alternative to water is tea. In 2011, a study concluded that “black tea, in the amounts studied, offered similar hydrating properties to water.” Kenyan marathon man, Eliud Kipchoge’s diet consists of fruit, vegetables and…tea! “He also drinks a lot of tea with a lot of sugar. Instead of protein shakes, he’d have two litres of tea.” Matt Fox told the Guardian.
Athletes need to maintain their concentration at all times. The slightest mental slip can lead to mistakes that lead to defeat or injury. Staying hydrated and stimulated can be a difficult balance to find. Energy drinks that hydrate well are often packed with bad stuff such as: sugar, additives and a high amount of caffeine. We know that caffeine and sugar can stimulate but they also result in a big crash. The advantage of tea is there’s caffeine without an overstimulating amount and it gives you the option to add your own, healthy amount of sugar. A major benefit of green tea is that has caffeine without the crash.
Green tea extract (GTE) improves endurance during aerobic activity, according to studies. Human studies have shown increased endurance was in part due to an increase in fat being burned for energy. A 2011 study concluded: “habitual GTE ingestion, in combination with moderate-intense exercise, was beneficial to increase the proportion of whole-body fat utilization during exercise.” Supplements with Green tea extract prevented oxidative stress induced by repeat sprint tests.
What better way to improve performance by socialising with teammates? There is an increasing trend of athletes enjoying the Yerba Mate. (You can read all about Yerba Mate here) You will have spotted many stars at the World Cup with a gourd and bombilla on arrival to the stadiums. Emanating from South America, the herbal infusion has grown in popularity in Europe. Furthermore, members of England’s World Cup squad spoke about it before this years tournament in Russia. It’s a great drink on for socialising as highlighted by England’s Danny Rose. Speaking to the Telegraph he said: “Eric [Dier] and I spend our afternoons playing Uno and drinking tea – it’s a good way of spending an hour or two, just gossiping.