NEW Research : Drinking Green Tea Improves Aerobic Capacity

A new study finds  that daily tea catechin consumption (combined with a twice weekly cycling program) improved aerobic capacity significantly in a group a Japanese males.

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Previous studies found that dietary supplementation with tea catechins combined with exercise improved endurance capacity in mice.

This is the first study (that I could find on PubMed) aimed to test the aerobic capacity of humans supplementing with tea catechins.

This new (8-week) study conducted on sixteen Japanese non-athlete males shows that daily tea catechin consumption (500 ml test beverage with 570 mg tea catechins) combined with a twice weekly cycling program improved aerobic capacity significantly when compared to the placebo group.

  • Aerobic capacity was evaluated by indirect calorimetry and near-infrared spectroscopy during graded cycle exercise.

  • Catechin beverage consumption was associated with a significantly higher ventilation threshold during exercise and a higher recovery rate of oxygenated hemoglobin and myoglobin levels after graded cycle exercise when compared to subjects receiving the placebo beverage.

These results indicate that daily consumption of tea catechins increases aerobic capacity when combined with semiweekly light exercise, which may be due to increased skeletal muscle aerobic capacity.

Disclaimer:

This research was conducted by researchers who work for the Biological Science Laboratories of Kao Corporation….who just happen to sell a green tea fitness supplement beverage.

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Which doesn’t mean that the science is bogus. Just something to be aware & skeptical of…just like any good scientist.

In green tea’s favor is a ton of science showing a wide range of health benefits associated with green tea catechins.  IMHO, it isn’t unlikely that green tea catechins probably have a positive effect on your aerobic capacity. There just isn’t any science (other than this study) on this subject.

But there will be. If you’re interested, I have set up an PubMed feed for “green tea & aerobic capacity” Click on the link and you will have access to the latest published research on how green tea catechins improve (or don’t) aerobic capacity.

 

Reference

Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry Journal

health fitness exercise healthhabits workout

More proof that you should Just Say No to Cardio

  • You want to be healthy
  • You want to be fit
  • You want to be strong
  • You want to be fast
  • You want to be powerful
  • You want to look great naked

If this sounds like you, you need to stop doing boring old cardio workouts…

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…and start combining strength training workouts with high intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts.

Here’s why…

In a study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, researchers examined whether a combination of sprint interval workouts and strength training workouts would result in compromised strength development when compared to strength training alone.

During this study, they also monitored maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) and time to exhaustion (TTE) to determine if the HIIT workouts would improve aerobic performance.

The Results

After 12 weeks of 4x per week workouts, they researchers found that:

  • Upper & lower body strength improved in both groups with no difference between the strength training (ST) group and the combination HIIT-ST group.
  • VO2max improved in the HIIT-ST group but not in the ST group. Previous studies have shown that HIIT is equal or superior to traditional cardio in improving VO2max

Conclusions

  • Strength training without HIIT will make you stronger
  • Strength training + HIIT will make you equally as strong
  • HIIT improves VO2max as well or better than traditional cardio training

When you combine this new data with all of the previous studies + years of real-world experience that has shown that traditional cardio training reduces strength, power & muscle mass in favour of aerobic performance (VO2max et al), it all starts to become very clear.

It means that if…

  • You want to be healthy
  • You want to be fit
  • You want to be strong
  • You want to be fast
  • You want to be powerful
  • You want to look great naked

…you need to just say no to cardio and just start saying yes to HIIT + strength training.

Reference

Reebok ZigTech = Run Faster Longer

Over the past couple of months, I have been beta-testing a pair of Reebok ZigTech running shoes.

And as much as I hate to admit it, I have become a big fan of my wild looking Zigs.

I hate to admit it because I am a big believer in minimalist style training shoes that force the muscles in your feet to do some actual work. I also can’t stand that high-end trunning shoes are sold mainly on hype. They promise a lot but usually deliver very little.

And that’s exactly what I assumed about the ZigTechs when I was contacted by a PR company who represents Reebok.

They wanted to know if I would be interested in reviewing some of their gear for Health Habits.

And while my official policy is to only review products that I like enough to purchase myself as well as recommend to my clients, I decided to give them a try because I was looking to get back into running some real distances and I needed to find a new pair of shoes that would allow my poor surgically reconstructed knees to survive a “run” without swelling up.

And boy am I glad I did.

ZigTech Shoes : The Good

  • Whether it was on an elliptical cardio trainer, a treadmill or outdoors on the frozen Canadian tundra, the Zigs allowed me to increase my mileage while making life much easier on my knees. Also, shin splints were reduced by 84.73%.
  • Comparing apples to apples, my performances on the elliptical & the treadmill improved by around 10% over the past 2 months.
  • Lateral mobility was good during cross-training workouts. I was concerned about this initially.
  • I thought my red & black versions looked pretty snazzy.

ZigTech Shoes : The Bad

  • There was some heel slippage during some of my resistance workouts. I fixed this problem by switching to a “Heel Lock” lacing pattern.

ZigTech Shoes : The Interesting

  • Unlike running shoes equipped with springs, air bags, gel paks etc, the idea behind ZigTech is that the sole absorbs the impact of heel strike and rebounds that energy horizontally along the length of the shoe propelling the athlete forward with each step. That’s the theory. And while I didn’t have some fancy-schmancy lab equipment to test that theory, it did feel like that…like I was being pushed forward. Kinda weird, but pretty cool.

Conclusion

While I am still a big believer in wearing barefoot/minimalist footwear, I like running better in my ZigTechs.

So, here’s my plan:

  • minimalist shoes during the day and during most workouts.
  • Zigtechs when I am running

Exercise Better with Coffee

For decades, endurance athletes have relied on caffeine as a performance aid. They claimed that a pre-workout cup of coffee helped them to push themselves harder and for longer periods of time.

And along the way, science has backed up that belief:

  • In 1979, scientists found that caffeine helped cyclists improve their performance by 7% during a 2 hour workout.
  • In 1991, cyclists dosed with 9mg of caffeine per kg of bodyweight were able to increase their endurance by 51%
  • In 1995, cyclists performing high intensity circuits were able to improve their endurance by 29% with a dose of 5.5mg of caffeine per kg of body mass.

Pretty good, right? The only problem is that no one really knew why caffeine improved athletic performance…until now.

Researcher (and cycling geek) Dr. Robert Motl has spent the last 7 years considering the relationship between physical activity and caffeine. Today, he has a much better understanding of why that cuppa Joe he used to consume before distance training and competing enhanced his cycling ability.

  • Early in his research, he became aware that “caffeine works on the adenosine neuromodulatory system in the brain and spinal cord, and this system is heavily involved in nociception and pain processing.”
  • Since Motl knew caffeine blocks adenosine from working, he speculated that it could reduce pain.
  • A number of studies by Dr. Motl support that conclusion, including investigations considering such variables as exercise intensity, dose of caffeine, anxiety sensitivity and gender.

The good doctors latest study “looks at the effects of caffeine on muscle pain during high-intensity exercise as a function of habitual caffeine use,” he said. “No one has examined that before”.

And what did they find?

  • Caffeine reduces pain during exercise.
  • Less pain means you can work harder.
  • Less pain means you can work longer.

The Science

The study’s 25 participants were fit, college-aged males divided into two distinct groups:

  1. Subjects whose everyday caffeine consumption was extremely low to non-existent,
  2. And those with an average caffeine intake of about 400 milligrams a day, the equivalent of three to four cups of coffee.

After testing their baseline aerobic fitness, Dr. Motl tortured his subjects with two monitored high-intensity, 30-minute exercise sessions.

  • An hour prior to each session, cyclists – who had been instructed not to consume caffeine during the prior 24-hour period – were given a pill.
  • On one occasion, it contained a dose of caffeine measuring 5 milligrams per kilogram of body weight (equivalent to two to three cups of coffee); the other time, they received a placebo.
  • During both exercise periods, subjects’ perceptions of quadriceps muscle pain was recorded at regular intervals, along with data on oxygen consumption, heart rate and work rate.

The Results

Obviously the most important result was that caffeine reduced the pain of intense physical activity. But Dr. Motl also found that when it came to the reduction of pain, “caffeine tolerance doesn’t matter”. Caffeine-junkies and the herbal tea drinkers received the same pain reducing benefit from their little caffeine pill.

So, what now?

Dr. Motl wants to see what effect caffeine’s pain-reducing abilities has on sport performance.

“We’ve shown that caffeine reduces pain reliably, consistently during cycling, across different intensities, across different people, different characteristics. But does that reduction in pain translate into an improvement in sport performance?”

Interesting question for sure, but I am way to impatient to wait for science to catch up to real life. If you’re like me, check out this list of caffeine based beverages and let’s get physical.

Reference

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