Green Tea for Athletic Performance and Rehabilitation

Green Tea for Athletic Performance and Rehabilitation

19 April 2016 by Caitlin Armit

Green Tea

Green tea has been the beverage of choice in China and Japan for thousands of years. In addition to its widespread availability, affordability and low calorie intake compared to many other drinks, it also has a diverse range of health benefits.

It is best known for its antioxidant properties which may be useful for lowering total cholesterol and preventing cancer, osteoporosis and cardiovascular diseases. Green tea, especially Matcha green tea, has a very high content of catechin polyphenols (phytochemicals with antioxidant properties known to reduce inflammation) making it an appropriate choice for athletes experiencing acute joint, tendon or muscle pain or undergoing rehabilitation after injury. Other research since the early 2000s suggests that green tea extract improves fat utilisation for energy – meaning that it encourages the body to prioritise the use of fat over carbohydrate for energy with physical exertion.

Most research on the benefits of green tea highlight the importance of regular long-term use. It’s not good enough to have one cup a week or a single high dose of green tea extract. Ideally 3-4 cups per day over several months is what it would take to truly reap the benefits for an athlete.


  • Invest in some quality loose-leaf green tea from a specialist teashop or make a trip to Chinatown instead of enduring the tea bag varieties from the supermarkets.
  • Use a tea strainer to infuse the tea leaves and re-use for a second pot.
  • Drink tea in the morning and at lunch time, especially if you have had a greasy meal. The caffeine content may interfere with your sleep if you drink it late in the day but the ‘astringent’ and bitter quality of the tea will help you to digest any greasiness in the food you’ve eaten.
  • Caution regular and frequent green tea intake if you are taking regular medications especially mood stabilisers, heart medications, chemotherapy medications or blood thinners for any medical conditions.


But hold on a second….

Food is medicine, and not every medicine is appropriate for every person. According to Chinese Medicine principles, green tea has a cooling, astringent and diuretic effect on the digestive system – specifically the stomach, liver and spleen – and is appropriate for people with ‘heat’ and ‘excess’ conditions not those with a ‘cold’ constitution.

Examples of ‘heat’ may include: feeling hot, red face, anger/agitation, yellow urine, headaches, very red tongue, inflammation, bad breath, constipation. Examples of ‘cold’ may include: lethargy, weak digestion, loose stools, sensitivity to cold/wind weather conditions, cool-to-touch skin, pale face). Even if you do identify more with the ‘cold’ constitution, you can add a slice of ginger to your tea to warm it up a bit. Note that by ‘warm it up’ we’re talking about the nature of the food i.e. the effect that it has on your body, not just thermal temperature.

Talk to your Acupuncturist to gain a better understanding of whether you lean more towards one state or the other. In a consultation, we will ask you more specific questions, look at your tongue and take your pulse to gain an understanding of your overall health.


Green Tea Catechins and Sport Performance

Polyphenols in Exercise Performance and Prevention of Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage


Categories: Brisbane Acupuncture Blog | Brisbane Chinese Dietetics Blog | Digestive Health Brisbane | Pain Relief Brisbane

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