Yerba maté shows exercise benefits, potential for sports nutrition

By Stephen DANIELLS

- Last updated on GMT

Yerba maté shows exercise benefits, potential for sports nutrition

Related tags: Nutrition, Metabolism

Consuming the traditional South American drink yerba maté before exercise may enhance fat metabolism without affecting maximal performance, says a new study.

The beverage was found to boost fatty acid oxidation by 24% during light and moderate exercise, with even greater levels at the lower exercise intensities, according to findings published in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism.

“Therefore, increased [fatty acid oxidation (FAO) and energy expenditure derived from FAO (EEFAO)] with yerba maté ingestion in the light and moderate exercise intensity domains may augment both exercise dependent outcomes associated with those intensities,”​ wrote  Ahmad Alkhatib from the Academy of Sport and Physical Activity at Sheffield Hallam University, and the Sport Science Program at Qatar University, Doha, “and may augment metabolic and anti-adiposity markers associated with yerba maté ingestion, such as decreased differentiation of pre-adipocytes and reduced accumulation of lipids in adipocytes [fat cells].”

Maté or yerba maté (Illex paraguariensis​) is a tea-like drink traditionally consumed in South American countries by pouring boiling water onto a high concentration of leaves. According to the author of the new paper, the active ingredients of the beverage include polyphenols and caffeoyl derivatives, such as caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, and different forms of dicaffeoylquinic acid. Yerba maté also contains phytosterols and saponins.

Study details

Dr Alkhatib recruited 14 healthy men and women and randomly assigned them to consume either 1,000 mg of yerba maté or placebo in a cross-over design. The participants then performed exercise tests of increasing intensity.

Results showed that yerba maté significantly increased FAO and EEFAO at exercise intensities below 70%, with the best results obtained at the lower intensities. A trend towards lower blood levels of lactate were also observed, said Dr Alkhatib.

“The yerba maté-dependent reduction (though non-significant) in blood lactate concentration during exercise, is indicative of an effect on exercise tolerance and delaying fatigue mechanisms, are also in line with lower reliance on carbohydrate as an energy fuel and increased reliance on fatty acid oxidation at exercise intensities […], which are all in the submaximal intensity domain, and agree with the dynamic interrelationship between blood lactate concentration, carbohydrate and fatty acid oxidation,” ​wrote Dr Alkhatib.

“Acute ingestion of yerba maté before exercise enhances fat metabolism during light and moderate exercise intensities, without negatively affecting maximal performance,”​ he added. “These effects also suggest a glycogen sparing potential for exercise performance.

“Further research is required on specific long-term strategies that combine yerba maté with exercise to accelerate weight loss outcomes and potentially enhance metabolic health outcomes.”

Source: Nutrition & Metabolism
2014, 11​:42
“Yerba Maté (​Illex Paraguariensis) ingestion augments fat oxidation and energy expenditure during exercise at various submaximal intensities”
Authors: A. Alkhatib

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