This 5,000-year-old beverage may very well be the world’s first ever energy drink. Yet, while most people know tea is “good for you,” it is also functional, too. Tea consumption has been shown to improve cognitive performance, increase the ability to focus, help fend off cancer, and enhance your mood.
So what’s the low-down on tea’s bevy of benefits? And what tea is best for energy? Let’s get the obvious stuff out of the way:
Tea is good for you
Tea contains hundreds of bioactive compounds, such as amino acids, caffeine, and flavonoids.
Flavonoids, and their sub-class, flavonols (such as catechins, theaflavins and thearubigins, and Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG)), are antioxidant compounds that help to reduce the damage to cells in the body at the molecular level, and are shown to have cardiovascular, chemopreventive, metabolic, neuroprotective, and other health benefits.
Studies have shown that 1-6 cups of green tea per day can increase the antioxidant capacity of the bloodstream, which can reduce the damage to cell lipids and DNA. Furthermore, tea flavonoids and flavonols are the major contributors of flavonoids in the American diet. So you should probably start drinking this healthy libation.
Epidemiologic observations and laboratory studies have indicated that tea may reduce the risk of cancer, and the mechanisms include an increase in tumor cell apoptosis (forced cell death) and through inhibition of cancer cell proliferation. Or in other words, tea beats up cancer.
Enhances cardiovascular health
A meta-analysis of 10 cohort studies and seven case-control studies concluded the incidence rate of myocardial infarction (heart attack) is estimated to decrease by 11% with an increase in tea consumption of 3 cups per day.
While another study observed tea consumption in the Chinese population and showed that drinking 120 mL/day of green or oolong tea, or more, for 1 year significantly reduces the risk of developing hypertension. But we already knew tea was good for the body. What else can it do?
Tea for an Energy boost
Tea has caffeine. You know about caffeine; it is the most commonly used chemical to improve mental alertness and provide a pick-me-up. But what’s the best tea for energy?
Black tea has around 14-70 mg while green tea has between 24-45 mg. When you need to do work, or get ramped up for a gym session, most of us are ingesting caffeine to help aid the cause. No need to say more.
Fat burning machine
However, did you know tea can boost metabolism? A meta-analysis showed that catechin-rich tea consumption increased thermogenesis (energy expenditure) by 4.7 percent or 102 calories over a 24-hour period. The analysis also showed an increase in fat oxidation (fat burning), which shows tea may aid in fat loss. Goodbye, gut.
Fuel for athletic performance
For the athletically inclined, tea may be particularly helpful for fat burning during exercise. One study showed that twelve healthy men who performed two sessions of 30 minutes of cycling (one for baseline, and then again 24 hours after green tea extract supplementation), increased their fat burning rates by an average of 17%, over their placebo-taking counterparts.
This is powerful for endurance athletes; if an athlete can derive more energy from their fat stores, they can go longer without having to tap into their limited supplies of glycogen, which means they don’t need to replenish their stores every few hours during training or a race.
Mark Sisson of Mark’s Daily Apple explains: “Human metabolism is pre-programmed by evolution to be primarily fat-based (the real preferred fuel). In other words, our genes expect us to function optimally when we consume fats and can easily access our stored fat… [But if we’re running off glycogen and] if we don’t feed ourselves enough carbohydrates every few hours, our blood sugar will drop and we’ll go into ‘starvation mode’ and cannibalize our precious muscle tissue.”
Bonus points: Because you’re consuming good fats, you can boost your athletic performance by adding tea to your diet.
The cognitive bump-de-bump
- Promote a mindful state of relaxation without sedation. (i.e. it does not make you tired)
- Improve sustained concentration and reduces “mental fatigue”
- Helps to increase reaction time and working memory
- Shown to decrease stress and aid relaxation
- Increase focus and reduce susceptibility to distraction
Wrapping this up to the tea
Given the convincing volume of research espousing tea’s positive benefits, such as a high-antioxidant content, fat-burning capabilities, and brain-boosting powers, it’s no wonder that tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world after water.
Couple this with the known benefits of proper hydration, and tea becomes the natural (and all-natural) beverage to accompany your performance-based diet. So cut the jabbering and go drink some more tea!
This guest post comes to us from CogniTea, the first performance tea crafted to optimize the cognitive-enhancing properties of tea. It has up to 10x the amount of L-Theanine as found in green tea and 90mg of natural caffeine to provide increased focus, alertness, and mental clarity.