Definition: "An ergogenic aid is any substance or phenomenon that enhances performance "

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Black tea reduces muscle soreness after training

A supplement containing theaflavins [structural formula shown below] from black tea protects muscle cells from the effects of intensive exertions, write sports scientists from Rutgers University in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. And yes, the researchers were paid by a manufacturer of supplements that contain black tea extracts.

Black tea reduces muscle soreness after training
Theaflavins are not found in green tea, but they are present in black tea. Test tube studies and animal studies suggest that they have an anti-inflammatory effect in the body. This is the reasoning behind the supplements produced by the sponsor of the study, American company WellGen. WellGen’s black tea extract goes by the name of Te Amé.

The researchers gave 18 male students aged 21 a daily dose of 2 WellGen pills for 9 days. The total dose was 880 mg black tea extract, which contained 350 mg theaflavins. [BTE] After a week on the supplements the test subjects had to do ten series of cycling 'flat out'.

Black tea reduces muscle soreness after training
Each series lasted 30 seconds, and the students rested for 2 minutes between the series. Just in case you're interested, the researchers used the Wingate Anaerobic Cycle Test.

The researchers then repeated the procedure after the test subjects had taken placebo pills for a week. [PLA]

The supplement didn't have much effect on the subjects' performance during the test. But when the researchers measured the ratio between reduced and oxidised glutathione in the subjects' muscles [GSH:GSSG] in the first hour after the test, they noticed that the balance was restored more quickly in the subjects that had taken the supplement.

Black tea reduces muscle soreness after training

Detoxifying enzymes use glutathione to neutralise aggressive compounds – free radicals – in muscle cells. The enzymes used reduced glutathione and convert it into oxidised glutathione.

The students continued to take the supplement for three days after they'd done the test. In that period the supplement reduced the

Black tea reduces muscle soreness after training

According to the researchers, the supplements speed up post-training recovery. So users can train more and have more progression is their reasoning. The Americans did not examine whether this is actually the case.

Supplements versus the real thing
One 200 ml cup of black tea contains about 170-200 mg of phenols; the theaflavins only amount to 7-15 mg of these.

But before you conclude that you can only benefit from the protective qualities of tea by taking WellGen's expensive supplements think about this: Brazilian researchers announced 2 years ago that they had discovered anticatabolic effects in bodybuilders who drank just 3 cups of green tea a day. [Nutrition. 2008 May;24(5):433-42.]

J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2010 Feb 23;7(1):11.