With the increasing focus on health and natural foods, many runners are turning away from traditional pre-workout drinks and artificial nutritional substances and instead looking to natural alternatives. Rising in popularity is matcha green tea which is increasingly becoming the focus of scientific studies that are showing its role in assisting with weight loss & weight management, boosting energy & endurance, reducing & relieving inflammation, supporting the immune system and protecting from cancer.

So what is matcha?

Matcha green tea is the whole green tea leaf which is briefly steamed, dried and ground into a fine vibrant green powder. The powder dissolves in water so you consume the whole tea leaf, not just the steeped water. As a result matcha green tea contains 137 X the antioxidants of standard green tea and has the highest concentration of the antioxidant EGCG which is one of the most powerful cancer-fighting antioxidants.

Here are some of the reasons behind just a selection of its health benefits:

Assists with Weight loss and Weight Management

Matcha assists with weight loss and weight management in four specific ways:

  1. Boosts fat burning:  A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that consuming matcha can raise the bodies fat burning rate (thermogenesis) from the normal 8-10% to 35-43%.
  2. Reduces Fat Absorption: Matcha helps block the ability of digestive enzymes to break down fat so the amount of fat entering cells is reduced and instead this fat is passed through the body in digestion.
  3. Reduces hunger: Matcha helps regulate the hormone Leptin helping to reduce your hunger cravings.
  4. Stress reducer:  Matcha helps reduce stress and as a result, your body does not produce as much of the stress hormone Cortisol which is a known contributor to stubborn midsection fat.

Boosting Energy & Endurance

Matcha is a natural source of sustained energy due to the unique way it delivers caffeine into your system. With matcha, the natural tea caffeine is absorbed and released slowly by the body over a period of 6-8 hours. This means that matcha provides a sustainable energy boost and does not deliver the rapid 30-minute spike, slump and “jitters” associated with coffee.  You will feel alert, energized, and calm when you drink matcha.  This is perfect for marathon runners who need constant and sustained energy.

Supporting and Relieving Inflammation

Studies have shown green tea can help reduce inflammation and joint pain because of its active ingredient EGCG which is a powerful antioxidant that works to stop the production of certain inflammatory chemicals in the body. Matcha contains a much higher level of EGCG compared to standard green tea bags making it the perfect anti-inflammatory drink.

Supports the Immune System

Matcha has an anti-inflammatory effect on the immune system. The more matcha you drink or use in your food, the better allergic reactions (IGE) are suppressed. The catechins and L-Theanine in matcha have an anti-viral effect in flu. The EGCGs have an anti-bacterial effect on different sickness-causing micro-bodies, including Candidias Albicans. Matcha inhibits the growth of parasites. Matcha thus curbs infections, clears up free radicals, reduces oxidative damage and protects the kidneys.

Protects from Cancer

Matcha contains the highest levels of cancer-fighting EGCG antioxidants only found in green tea. Researchers believe that  the EGCG in matcha:

  • Can prevent free radicals from damaging cells which can lead to cancer
  • Can help to suppress tumour size
  • Can slow the progression of cancer cells

So what does matcha taste like?

Surprisingly, matcha is very light in flavour- it does not have any bitterness and is delicious to drink as a hot or iced tea and is also a perfect additive to smoothies or juices. You can add a teaspoon to your drink bottle and consume this before and during your run.

You can read more about matcha or buy high-quality matcha from my Australian business Zen Green Tea.