Yerba Mate Taragüi - Yerba mate vs. commercial energy drinks
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Yerba mate vs. commercial energy drinks

Energy drinks can generate side effects such as insomnia, nervousness and tachycardia; while the energizing effect from Yerba Mate is 100% natural and its many benefits come from nature itself.

Mate: the best drink in the world

Yerba mate is considered one of the best drinks in the world thanks to the many health benefits it has to offer, like its powerful energizing effect that can even surpass coffee and tea, due to the special way it is prepared. The energy effect caused by yerba mate contributes to clear the mind and face any activity with strength and vitality, including high-impact sports.

Today, the market offers several brands of energy drinks and hypertonic drinks (Hypertonic drinks contain a higher concentration of salt and sugar than the human body), widely consumed around the world to reduce fatigue and exhaustion. There are also the so-called sports drinks, which offer to replenish electrolytes lost through sweat during exercise. But how are these drinks different from yerba mate, when it comes to their energy effect?

What are energy drinks?

Energy drinks appeared in Europe and Asia around 1960. An energy drink is a beverage containing a strong stimulant ingredient, usually caffeine and sugar. These drinks are known to be consumed for an energy boost and to enhance physical performance. Energy drinks are different from sports drinks, which are used to replace water and electrolytes, and from soft drinks, which contain only small amounts of caffeine or none at all. 

Besides caffeine and sugar, energy drinks may contain additives such as vitamins, taurine, carnitine or other amino acids; and other ingredients like ginseng and guarana; which are other sources of caffeine. So called “energy shots” are a form of energy drink containing up to 200 mg of concentrated caffeine in a small container.
The main reason people choose energy drinks is to practice sports, improve mental alertness and physical performance. They have become very popular over the last decade, especially among young people: along with multivitamins, energy drinks are the most popular dietary supplement consumed by teens and young adults in the United States (almost one-third of teens between 12 and 17 years drink them regularly, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health).

Yerba Mate gives energy

Health concerns associated with commercial energy drinks

  • Energy drinks often contain five times the amount of caffeine as soft drinks. This amount of caffeine can cause nervousness, anxiety, headaches, stomachaches, hyperactivity, insomnia, dehydration, accelerated heart rates, and in extreme cases seizures and strokes. 
  • Most energy drinks contain an amount of sugar that exceeds the recommended daily allowance and potentially contributes to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity in sedentary individuals. 
  • Energy drinks are often combined with alcohol. The combination between energy drinks and alcohol is riskier than alcohol alone and could impair a global measure of cognitive functioning.

Yerba Mate vs. bottled energizing drinks

Is yerba mate considered an energy drink?

Yerba mate is a natural drink that increases your energy levels; but it’s far from being a commercial energy drink. This ancient, natural beverage is made from the leaves of the Yerba Mate tree. Although it also contains caffeine and other substances that act on the central nervous system; this energizing effect comes from nature itself, not from artificial manufacturing. Yerba mate is also a great alternative to coffee and tea.

What is yerba mate made of?

The yerba mate tea is brewed at home by adding hot water to the dried leaves from the Ilex Paraguariensis tree, which only grows in South America. It does not contain fat or sugar; and has very little calories, carbs and sodium. Beyond that, Yerba Mate is a wonderful source of vitamins (especially in the B group) minerals (potassium, magnesium, iron) and antioxidants (polyphenols, saponins, caffeoyl). Yerba mate also naturally contains stimulant agents like caffeine, theobromine, and theophylline; this is why it is a great source of natural energy. 

Can you drink Yerba Mate every day?

Absolutely. It has countless health benefits when you drink it regularly. The consumption of mate is unlikely to cause side effects in an average adult or to put their health at risk. You can always talk to your physician if you have any concerns; but don’t hesitate to learn more about the properties and health benefits of yerba mate, its nutritional value, and why it could be considered a superfood.

Yerba Mate: sports mate

The unique effect of Yerba Mate

The yerba mate infusion contains just the right amount of natural caffeine to gently increase energy levels and reduce tiredness, optimizing brain function, attention and focus. 

Artificially produced energy drinks list caffeine and vitamins as their main ingredients, but they also usually contain supplements to enhance the effects of caffeine, such as taurine, guarana, ginseng or herbs with stimulating properties to increase physical endurance. These aggregates are not harmful by themselves, but when combined with caffeine, the stimulating effect is so high that they can cause side effects like tachycardia, nervousness, nausea and in some cases serious health problems like addiction and withdrawal, high blood pressure, seizures and heart problems. In fact, most of the problems associated with energy drinks are usually caused by their high caffeine content.

The effect of yerba mate is also considered very different from energy drinks: mate drinkers claim to feel a double effect, both stimulating and relaxing. The energy boost produced by yerba mate is more subtle and it lasts longer compared to energy drinks. This may have something to do with the fact that caffeine is usually more diluted in yerba mate.

In fact, yerba mate has several advantages over all caffeinated drinks. For example, when compared with coffee, yerba mate’s energizing effect is more gentle, it doesn’t cause anxiety or insomnia and it’s way more nutritious. It has 90% more antioxidants than green tea.

The added value of Yerba Mate

Drinking mate tea has many physical and mental health benefits. Some say that there is no other drink with so many benefits. Yerba mate improves the body’s natural defenses and prevents diseases and cellular aging. It’s also a source of vitamins and minerals such as iron, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium. 

Although energy drinks in moderation are not toxic and do not endanger your health, they do not add a lot of value either. On the contrary, the large amount of sugar is stored as body fat, and the excessive consumption of hypertonic drinks can even cause gastrointestinal problems, when the body needs to produce more and more water to dilute the high concentration of sugars and electrolytes.

Can you replace energy drinks with yerba mate for practicing sports?

Energy drinks claim to be designed for prolonged physical activity; but replacing commercial energy drinks with Yerba Mate is totally feasible because: 

  • Yerba Mate stimulates the central nervous system and improves focus and concentration. (It’s also perfect for working or studying)
  • It helps the body make better use of its energy reserves and increase its physical endurance (read full study)
  • Yerba mate can speed up muscle recovery by up to 8.6% the day after a workout, according to this study published by the Cambridge University Press.
  • It improves motor function and muscle recovery. In fact, the anti-inflammatory effects of yerba mate can help in the recovery from muscle injuries, as shown by this study.
  • Yerba mate prevents cell degeneration.
  • Yerba mate benefits the cardiovascular system, which results in a better physical condition.
  • While energy drinks might lead to weight gain for its sugar content; yerba mate contributes to a healthy weight by boosting your metabolism and helping your body to eliminate toxins. Yerba mate is also very low in calories and fat-free. Read our article about Yerba Mate and weight loss.

As an extra benefit, yerba mate offers a very special advantage: a positive effect on your emotional health. Its gentle energy dose can be a natural way to cheer you up and lift your spirits; and the tradition of sharing yerba mate with your close ones undoubtedly favors moments of well-being. 

How to drink yerba mate for energy:

  • Drink it before any activity, from studying to high-impact sports; to increase your focus and energy level. Also, the antioxidants properties, its ability to reduce stress and its benefits on cardiovascular health; allows a better physical shape and a better performance.
  • During training, drink yerba mate to help the body process carbohydrates efficiently, increase endurance and train for longer. Yerba mate also prevents lactic acid buildup in the body.
  • After training: The recovery rate after working out increases by 8.6% up to 24 hours after training according to this study

Champions drink Yerba Mate

Because of all the above mentioned health benefits, Yerba Mate is highly appreciated by well-known athletes all over the world, including world-class soccer players from South America like the Argentinean Leo Messi, the Uruguayan Luis Suárez and the Brazilian Neymar Jr.

But it goes beyond the borders of South America: Antoine Griezmann (soccer player from France) drinks yerba mate every day and said he drinks it like people would drink tea or coffee because it provides him with the energy he needs on the field. Wu Lei, a soccer player from China, posted a picture on Social Media sharing yerba mate with his teammate. Alice Beretta, a hockey player from Italy; is a public fan of yerba mate and claims she couldn’t live without it: “it’s my strength” said in this interview.

Information sources