Yerba mate benefits most any exercise routine. When consumed in the Traditional Method, yerba mate tea appears to increase the supply of nutrients and oxygen to the heart during exercise.
The use of caffeine as a potential ergogenic aid is not new; the Medical Commission of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) first banned caffeine in 1962, rescinded the ban a decade later, and recently reclassified it as a restricted drug (an illegal dose is greater than 12 mg/L in urine). Most athletes consume caffeine as strong, black coffee; others take over-the-counter antidrowsiness preparations that contain caffeine. Once ingested, orally administered caffeine is almost completely absorbed. Plasma caffeine concentration peaks about 45 to 60 minutes after a single 250-mg dose, although individuals vary in their response. Under normal ingestion regimens, it is highly unlikely that any individual could exceed the current IOC limit. Caffeine affects almost every organ system, with the most obvious being the central nervous system. The stimulant increases alertness, reduces perceived effort during exercise, and decreases reaction time. At high doses (more than 15 mg/kg body weight), caffeine can also produce bradycardia, hypertension, nervousness, irritability, insomnia, and gastrointestinal distress (3). In the first study (4) of caffeine as an ergogenic aid, a single dose (5 mg/kg body weight) ingested 60 minutes before exercise increased time to fatigue by 20% during intense cycling (80% of VO2 max) (4). Other laboratory (5) and field (6) studies confirmed the benefits of caffeine for endurance performance. The postulated mechanism for the improved exercise capacity was a rise in circulating free-fatty-acid concentration, an increase in fatty acid oxidation, and a reduction in carbohydrate utilization during exercise. Evidence of a glycogen-sparing effect–most apparent during the early stages of exercise–has been found in every study that has determined muscular glycogen levels after caffeine ingestion (7,8). There is little doubt among scientists that caffeine positively affects fat metabolism, and that ingestion in legal quantities can improve performance in continuous, moderate-intensity exercise (submaximal exercise lasting more than 15 minutes) (3). When compared with placebo, caffeine (150 to 250 mg) has also been shown to improve 5-minute running and cycling performance in moderately or well-trained athletes who perform at or near their VO2 max (3). In contrast, caffeine has no ergogenic effect on maximal anaerobic (sprint) events lasting less than 30 seconds or maximal graded exercise to exhaustion (9). (From John A. Hawley, PhD THE PHYSICIAN AND SPORTSMEDICINE - VOL 26 - NO. 9 - SEPTEMBER 98)
It is worth noting that yerba mate contains a unique caffeine binding. It has a low level of caffeine that is uniquely bound with an alkaloid, making it an exceptional tool for endurance performances because it produces an energy like coffee and teas, but without the muscle tension. Thus, one is able to stay relaxed yet alert. Students, musicians, athletes, and many others enjoy the benefits of a focused energy that lacks physical tension. Learn more about the special caffeine in mate.
The Complete German Commission E Monographs, Germany's Food and Drug Administration, lists recovery from “mental and physical fatigue” as one of the powerful yerba mate benefits.