When we first released this article, we were smack-dab in the middle of our 30-day Matcha Challenge, something that many of us are still following more than half a year later.
- To summarize the challenge in six words: “Drink matcha twice daily, feel amazing.”
Anyway – as 2020 has had a lot of unexpected turns, we wanted to revisit the topic: “Why should I drink matcha?”
As a green powder powerhouse, matcha does a lot more than the other most common superfoods. And, particularly through ongoing stressors we’re all experiencing, it’s our hope to help you feel assured why matcha really is the perfect health amplifier when we need it most.
Of course, we’ve covered the bare-bones of matcha health benefits many times before, but here we’ll focus on matcha and exercise, matcha and muscle recovery, and why matcha might be your workout’s best friend.
You deserve to know! And besides, it’s only natural to look for more great reasons to drink-up, so let’s talk about some amazing, but lesser-known benefits of matcha and metabolism.
Exercise Biohacking and Matcha Tea
It’s long been known that high quality green tea carries a host of health benefits, but the latest science establishes honest reasons why powdered green tea (matcha) could be considered the strongest type of tea for health.
Key things to know include how matcha has up to 100x the availability of antioxidants as normal green tea sachets, and for vitamins and minerals upwards of 10x in most cases.
It’s reasonable how good nutrients in a daily bowl of matcha could help your exercise, but it gets a lot more exciting than that. And as a leading example, matcha contains an entourage of stimulating compounds known as methylxanthines. Let’s quickly talk about those:
Caffeine in Matcha | Methylxanthines in Matcha
Methylxanthines not only include caffeine in matcha, a ‘xanthine compound,’ but also a range of similar compounds, cousin-molecules to caffeine.
Those include theobromine (found in chocolate) and theophylline which are able to activate the central nervous system, potentially increasing total energy expenditure for virtually any activity or workout.
Biohacking Molecules in Matcha
Each xanthine in matcha helps each other to have a balanced effect. For example, unlike coffee which is overpowered in caffeine alone, the stimulating compounds in matcha work together for an even, jitter-free effect for balanced muscle-control, and plentiful energy during exercise.
- Learn more about xanthines and why matcha is an alternative to coffee for workouts.
- Need more info? Matcha & xanthines vs. energy drinks
Anyway – biohacking with matcha – that’s just the tip of the iceberg. So far we haven’t even mentioned the stimulating compounds in matcha known to boost memory, cognition, and learning.
- Such benefits which definitely contribute their own competitive advantages. Including the unique amino acids (esp. L-theanine) in matcha which are documented for reaction time.
We already have plenty of reasons to be drinking matcha everyday, but let’s go deeper into the exercise properties of matcha, including why it might be considered both an exercise-mimetic and an exercise-booster!
- FYI: An ‘exercise-mimetic’ is something that mimics the health benefits of exercise on its own accord.
Exercise-mimetic Matcha | Daily Matcha for Exercise Performance
Whether you’re using matcha to boost exercise, or to make-up for a couple lazy days, it’s simply by looking at the history of matcha that we can better understand its potential to boost our performance.
For one, matcha is thought to explain the record breaking number of centenarians (100+ year olds) in Japan.
Exercise and Longevity benefits of Matcha Tea
From its origins, matcha has become more than a ritual of Japanese Tea Ceremony, now it’s also a clear means to optimal health – boosting longevity – and helping our other healthy habits to stretch even farther.
If you’re interested in fitness, or even a self-proclaimed ‘exercise bio-hacker,’ then matcha is perfect for you; here’s how it can strategically amplify your performance & athletic endurance!
Optimize the Hormetic Response of Exercise with Matcha Tea
The relationship between good health (as well as healthy aging) and green tea has long been established, now we actually have the science to help explain some of the “how.”
A lot of it comes down to a phenomenon that most bio-hackers will be familiar with: hormesis.
The latest science shows how matcha improves the hormetic response (hormesis) of many healthy habits – especially exercise .
- Basically, anything that gives your body a healthy stress-response, usually physical; running, intermittent-fasting, strength-training, ice-cold plunges, etc...
Hormesis Diet – Daily Drink to Boost Hormetic Response of Healthy Habits
Hormesis can be defined as “to become stronger or healthier by an activity,” and can even extend to ingesting something healthy for you.
- That’s known as xenohormesis – of which matcha is a great example.
Of course, exercise is perhaps the best example of a hormetic activity. It makes you stronger in the long run, but anything metabolically intense, like working out, has a range of temporary stress on the body.
An easy example is the increased release of free radicals, inflammatory response, and the recovery period due to intense exercise. Is that a bad thing? Not at all, It’s just part of how the body responds and strengthens from stress.
How to boost recovery after working out
Nevertheless, it’s often that we want our bodies to push as hard as possible while working out, but without much thought to how to help it recover after. That’s where matcha can come in.
Unlike other energy drinks (and even coffee!), the antioxidant polyphenols in matcha tea are thought to protect the body from free radicals released during exercise (more on this below).
Another example, the metabolism-balancing properties of unique matcha molecules, such as EGCG and L-theanine, may offer certain protections during endurance activities that stress both your fat-burning and normal glucose-metabolisms.
Dose-response of EGCG
Remember, hormesis describes the ideal relationship between benefits and potential drawbacks of any health practice.
- It’s similar to a dose-response with medicine where “a little is good, whereas too much might be bad.”
So – everytime that we workout, or drink a bowl of matcha (or both at the same time!) we’re essentially acknowledging the benefits of hormesis – even if we don’t realize it.
How Matcha Polyphenols Increase Blood-flow like Exercise
Matcha primes our metabolism with potent antioxidants which are documented to increase blood-flow and arterial relaxation. Such effects elevate the hormetic response of most forms of exercise, and on its own this effect may be considered an exercise mimetic.
This effect basically means that matcha may add flexibility to our peak activity levels. At least one study found those who drink green tea compounds like matcha, before workouts, achieved optimal output sooner .
Helping our workout effectiveness is great news. On one hand, matcha polyphenols may assist your body to enter workout metabolism quicker in order to make the most use of gym-time.
Free-radical scavengers – Matcha EGCG and oxidative stress from exercise
And to expand on the other hand, certain protections matcha may offer in the case of moderate to intense exercise. For any exercise associated with oxidative stress, potential risks of muscle damage and inflammatory hormones – matcha might help [3-6].
The relaxation properties of matcha may protect ourselves from the negative side of exercise hormesis. Rather than spend energy healing, studies have evaluated matcha-drinkers for more efficient recoveries [4-5].
So how does it work? There’s at least two parts: 1. protections from free radicals and 2. improved resistance and recovery from endurance activities.
Matcha and Protections from Free Radicals from Exercise
The suggested pathways to explain these benefits vary. Mainly, the potent polyphenols in matcha reportedly increase serum levels of antioxidants.
Also, those same compounds are suggested as ‘vasodilators’ – increasing peripheral blood flow to better perfuse muscle tissue – fueling muscles and possibly lowering risks of hypoxic muscle damage [3-6].
To summarize, the scavenging effects combined with improved blood flow from matcha catechins are why more athletes are turning to their daily green drink when training cardio.
Next up, how matcha improves resistance to endurance activities:
Endurance Supplements: Endurance Training with Matcha Tea
Natural glycogen supplements are on the rise for their ability to potentially improve endurance energy levels in a natural way. As it turns out, many of the rare polyphenols in matcha tea are studied to hasten the rate of glycogen replenishment [5-6].
Very interesting! That means that we may recover more quickly from fatigue. Great for strength trainers, but particularly endurance athletes (cycling, long-distance running) .
It’s reasonable to see how matcha flexes the hormetic benefits of exercise, especially for endurance athletes. Also, matcha powder is even more appealing when considering how depleted glycogen can result in excess inflammation, cortisol, and hormonal issues .
Why should you drink matcha before working out?
Long-story short, matcha tea may boost hormesis from exercise, and even on your recovery-days. Furthermore, it appears to act as an exercise-mimetic due to increased blood flow, and possibly reduced blood-pressure in healthy adults.
And on the simple side of things, matcha encourages balanced energy production, blood-flow, and regulates oxidative-stress. As the leading green powder superfood, it packs a serious punch, wouldn’t you say?
Anyone interested in fitness can amplify their workouts (all healthy habits) by using it.
Is Matcha Compatible with my Diet?
So, will you drink matcha with us? It’s the perfect health boost no matter what your goal might be: Weight-loss? Endurance training? Meditation? Coffee alternatives? Matcha!
* * *References
 Willems, M. E. T., Şahin, M. A., & Cook, M. D. (2018). Matcha green tea drinks enhance fat oxidation during brisk walking in females. International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism, 28(5), 536-541.
 Willems, M. E. (2018). Can you enhance exercise-induced fat oxidation with green tea drinking?. Agro FOOD Industry Hi Tech, 29(4).
 Jastrzębski, Z., Żychowska, M., Radzimiński, Ł., Konieczna, A., & Kortas, J. (2015). Damage to liver and skeletal muscles in marathon runners during a 100 km run with regard to age and running speed. Journal of Human Kinetics, 45(1), 93-102.
 Mann, G. E., Rowlands, D. J., Li, F. Y., de Winter, P., & Siow, R. C. (2007). Activation of endothelial nitric oxide synthase by dietary isoflavones: role of NO in Nrf2-mediated antioxidant gene expression. Cardiovascular research, 75(2), 261-274.
 Teng, Y. S., & Wu, D. (2017). Anti-fatigue effect of green tea polyphenols (-)-Epigallocatechin-3-Gallate (EGCG). Pharmacognosy magazine, 13(50), 326.
 Nieman, D. C., Zwetsloot, K. A., Lomiwes, D. D., Meaney, M. P., & Hurst, R. D. (2016). Muscle glycogen depletion following 75-km of cycling is not linked to increased muscle IL-6, IL-8, and MCP-1 mRNA expression and protein content. Frontiers in physiology, 7, 431.