Matcha – the best gym companion

Looking for a natural and safe replacement for supplements to help you achieve your training goals? In the gym, there is always space for better and stronger, and there is a wide range of products to support those goals. Matcha is one of them.

Green tea has long been considered one of the healthiest drinks in the world. It's one of the top choices for many athletes because it’s safe, effective and – a legal- way to enhance performance, increase endurance and focus and help with weight loss.

What is matcha?

Matcha is a finely powdered tea made of Camellia sinesis leaves. Leaves are shaded for 3-4 weeks before harvesting that gives a unique nutritional content different from other teas. Fresh leaves are harvested, steamed and deveined, cut into small flakes and ground using special stone mills into a silky fine powder. Nutritional value of matcha dry powder and prepared matcha drink is the same – unlike other green teas which nutritional value will depend of water solubility of nutrients.

What is EGCg?

Matcha tea contains a specific set of organic compounds known as catechins. Among all antioxidants, catechins are the most potent and beneficial ones. A specific catechin called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCg) makes up 60% of the catechins in Matcha Green Tea. EGCg in high amounts is found only in Camellia sinensis, especially in green tea. Levels of EGCg are significantly lower in more processed teas.  

Every tea is different, and every matcha is different. Levels of EGCg will differ in each matcha tea, but will always be higher in a cup of matcha than in a cup of any other brewed tea. EGCg is extracted at higher temperatures, usually unsuitable for brewing green tea. To extract the highest amounts of EGCg from a loose leaf tea, you would need to brew tea with temperatures higher than 70 degrees Celsius, for longer than 3 minutes, even for several hours. This might give a healthier cup, but with a very unpleasant bitter taste, and you still won’t be able to extract the full amount. This is where matcha comes in. It already has higher levels of EGCg than most of other teas because of specific growing, harvesting and processing methods, and it offers a chance to ingest 100% of EGCg.

If EGCg is so good should you be taking supplements instead?

While drinking matcha green tea is safe, taking supplements might be dangerous. Very high doses of EGCg are hepatotoxic, even if taken only once. Although the safe level is still not established by specialists, 300-500 mg per day is likely safe. All cases of liver damage or failure come from green tea supplements with very high levels of EGCg. The production of green tea extracts is still not regulated, making them very unsafe and even potentially lethal. It's almost impossible to determine if EGCg is the only problem related to liver damage in reported cases, but caution is advised.

Pay extra attention if you are combining any other supplements with green tea supplements.

One to five servings of matcha green tea per day are very likely safe for a healthy adult. A serving of matcha will contain approximately 50-100 mg of EGCg, falling within the 500 mg daily limit. While taking any supplements or including tea into gym routine, refrain from drinking alcohol or avoiding food. Choose healthy ingredients, and if possible, eat 5-7 small meals per day.

Is Matcha safe?

Depending on the nutrient content and servings size, 1-5 cups of matcha tea per day are safe for a healthy adult. So far there are no reported cases of matcha overdose. Just like many other gym supplements, EGCg may cause liver damage. This may happen if you ingest huge doses of green tea, or EGCg supplements.

Unlike commercially available fat-burners, detox teas or pre-workout drinks, matcha is completely natural and contains only one ingredient – pure Camellia sinensis. In fact, it's made from the finest leaves of the tea plant, carefully processed and powdered. It contains amino-acid L-theanine, catechins, fiber, minerals, vitamins and caffeine.

Learn more about Matcha.

Popular gym supplements that can be replaced with Matcha

Matcha is a great replacement for many standard supplements like caffeine, pre-work out drinks and fat-burners.

1. Caffeine

Caffeine is one of the most commonly used stimulants for enhancing workout performance. A gram of matcha will provide approximately 30-40 mg of caffeine, less than coffee, but enough to give you sustained energy throughout your training. In combination with L-theanine, it will improve focus and concentration and sustain same energy levels for 4-6 hours.  

2. Pre-workout drinks

Pre-workout drinks are one of the most popular supplements for anyone who wants to achieve the most during training. They are usually a combination of legal substances like caffeine and creatine, but might contain illegal ingredients too. Pre-workout drinks increase heart rate, focus and endurance, but may pose a danger and even lead to death. Replacing pre-workout drinks with matcha is a step toward a safe and focused training session. Matcha may increase endurance capacity, focus and energy levels in a safe and effective way.

3. Green tea supplements

Between choosing bitter tasting green tea supplements or drinking a cup of refreshing, delicious matcha, matcha is the winner. Not only are supplements often dangerous and may cause serious health problems, they may be more expensive and completely joy-free. Supplement are usually stripped of other beneficial ingredients and contain pure EGCg, often in quantities that are unsafe. One gram of Japanese matcha will contain approximately 50-100 mg of EGCg per gram of powder.

4. Fat-burners

Fat burners are popular supplements that are more often ineffective than effective. Most of them contain ingredients such as caffeine, L-carnitine and green tea extract. Many studies showed that matcha may be affective and natural fat-burner. One research showed that only 3 grams of matcha per day may increase fat oxidation by 17% when combined with 30 minutes of physical activity.   That percentage may go as high as 45%. A dose of 250 mg of EGCg may reduce the absorption of carbohydrates by 30%.

5. Detox teas

Seasonal detox is almost a must for cleaning body of harmful toxins and substances. With matcha, detox is a way of life, not a short-term solution. Detox tea is usually a blend of green tea and other herbs that may help with fluid retention and have a laxative effect. Matcha contains high levels of antioxidants that help fight free radicals and keep you healthy. Most detox teas contain less than a gram of green tea per serving, and about 5-15 ingredients in a small tea bag 2-3 grams tea bag. Unlike Matcha, those ingredients will only release a part of beneficial substances.

How to include Matcha into your workout regime?

1. Add matcha to your morning oats

2. Blend matcha into your protein shake

3. Make matcha infused with water

4. Drink traditionally prepared matcha in the morning

Learn how to choose the best matcha in our matcha Buyer's Guide.


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