Americans love their tea; the United States ranks 13th in global tea consumption at just under 1/2 lb. of tea consumed per person per year in 2002. Because of the stimulating effect of caffeinated teas, you may consider drinking tea to improve your athletic performance. The many flavors of tea make tea more appealing to people who have differing tastes.
The caffeine content of tea may account for its effects on athletic performance. An 8-oz. serving of black tea contains between 40 and 120 mg of caffeine compared to the 95 to 200 mg of caffeine in 8 oz. of coffee. Caffeine enters your bloodstream between 15 and 45 minutes after consumption. A 2010 study by Victoria University in Australia concluded that caffeine consumption alone can improve single-sprint performance. Caffeine reduces feelings of fatigue and increases adrenaline release, which may explain its effects on performance.
Green tea has received a great deal of press regarding its alleged fat-burning properties. Fat, like carbohydrate, is a source of energy. A 2009 study by the Waikato Institute of Technology in New Zealand researched a possible link between green tea's effects on fat burn and athletic performance. The study concluded that the active ingredients in green tea did not have a significant effect on the athletic performance of cyclists who consumed green tea prior to testing and an hour before the trial. Researchers concluded that caffeine, and not green tea extract, was responsible for any improvements.
Although evidence did not support better times or faster speeds with tea consumption, research has shown that green tea may improve athletic endurance. A 2006 study by the Kao Corporation in Japan found that green tea extract improved endurance by increased fat utilization in research on mice. Researchers concluded that green tea improved the ability of muscle cells to use fat for energy. These findings are significant in that a lack of energy will impair performance.
Red blood cells perform a vital function during exercise by providing oxygen for optimal energy production. Optimal energy production occurs in the presence of adequate oxygen. A 2007 study by Jagiellonian University in Poland looked at the antioxidant effects of black, green and white tea on red blood cells. Researchers concluded that green tea had the greatest protective effect on red blood cells and cell membranes. Although effects on athletic performance are mixed, tea consumption may support physical activity through its preventive functions and the stimulating impacts of caffeine.