Researchers have long been investigating strategies that can increase athletes’ ability to oxidize fatty acids and spare carbohydrate, thus potentially improving endurance capacity. Green-tea extract (epigallocatechin-3-gallate; EGCG) has been shown to improve endurance capacity in mice. If a green-tea extract can stimulate fat oxidation and as a result spare glycogen stores, then athletes may benefit through improved endurance performance. Eight male cyclists completed a study incorporating a 3-way crossover, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blinded, diet-controlled research design. All participants received 3 different treatments (placebo 270 mg, EGCG 270 mg, and placebo 270 mg + caffeine 3 mg/kg) over a 6-day period and 1 hr before exercise testing. Each participant completed 3 exercise trials consisting of 60 min of cycling at 60% maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max) immediately followed by a self-paced 40-km cycling time trial. The study found little benefit in consuming green-tea extract on fat oxidation or cycling performance, unlike caffeine, which did benefit cycling performance. The physiological responses observed during submaximal cycling after caffeine ingestion were similar to those reported previously, including an increase in heart rate (EGCG 147 ± 17, caffeine 146 ± 19, and placebo 144 ± 15 beats/min), glucose at the 40-min exercise time point (placebo 5.0 ± 0.8, EGCG 5.4 ± 1.0, and caffeine 5.8 ± 1.0 mmol/L), and resting plasma free fatty acids and no change in the amount of carbohydrate and fat being oxidized. Therefore, it was concluded that green-tea extract offers no additional benefit to cyclists over and above those achieved by using caffeine.
Dean and Braakhuis are with the School of Sport and Exercise Science, Waikato Institute of Technology, Hamilton, New Zealand. Paton is with the Eastern Institute of Technology, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand.