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What is Yerba Mate?

A lot of Aussies would look at "Yerba Mate" and be tempted to pronounce it the way it's spelt (at least that's the way with me when I first saw it). But it is actually pronounced "mar-tay". It is a Spanish name for a green plant known as Ilex paragariensis to botanists and belonging to the holly family. Yerba mate has applications for bodybuilding and exercise because it has stimulant and fat loss properties.

Where Does Yerba mate Come From?

Yerba mate is primarily found in South America. Countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay often cultivate Yerba mate for use as a coffee-like drink known as "mate".

Yerba Mate Benefits

Yerba mate contains caffeine, which is a stimulant, well known for its stimulatory effects which have proven benefits for exercise and fat loss. Yerba mate also contains theobromine, a similar compound also with bodybuilding and weight loss benefits.

Yerba Mate Benefits for Bodybuilding

Both active ingredients in Yerba mate have been known to enhance exercise performance. There are countless studies that have proven the effectiveness of caffeine as an ergogenic aid for both strength (Astorino & Roberson, 2010) and endurance (Warren et al, 2010). Theobromine is a vasodilator (Dock et al, 1926) and may increase nitric oxide synthesis (Kelly 2005). This, combined with the stimulatory effect of caffeine make yerba mate a valuable companion for bodybuilders and athletes wanting to push harder.

Yerba Mate Benefits for Fat Loss

Caffeine has also been found to be a thermogenic and is effective as a fat loss aid. It is therefore no surprise that Yerba mate also has fat loss applications. It has been found that an increase in lipid oxidation (fat burning) was observed in people receiving weight loss supplements containing Yerba mate (Martinet et al, 1999). In addition to this, weight loss supplements containing Yerba mate have been found to increase satiety and slow gastric emptying, resulting in increased feelings of fullness. Sustained use resulted in significant reductions in bodyweight compared to placebo (Andersen & Fogh, 2001).

Yerba Mate Benefits as an Antioxidant

Yerba mate has been found to have high levels of antioxidant activity (Filip et al, 2000). Consumption of Yerba mate provides significant levels of dietary antioxidants, which may have many benefits for general health (Bravo et al, 2007). In addition to this, antioxidants may speed up post workout recovery by protecting cells from damage caused by oxidation during exercise.

Yerba Mate Safety and Side Effects

Yerba mate is a popular beverage in South America. It is safely consumed on a daily basis, and is safe if consumed at moderate quantities. However, much like all substances that contain caffeine and theobromine, there is the potential for toxicity if it is consumed in extremely large doses. Side effects include restlessness, headache, and insomnia.

Yerba Mate Recommended Doses & Ingredient Timing

For weight loss, doses of around 300 to 500 mg are taken twice a day (Andersen & Fogh, 2001; Zenk et al, 2005). Yerba mate should be taken once first thing in the morning and again later in the day before a meal. As a way to boost workout intensity, yerba mate can be taken 30 to 45 minutes before a workout.

Yerba Mate Supplements

Because Yerba mate is an effective stimulant and has performance boosting properties, it can be found in some concentrated pre workout supplements. It can also be found in some fat burners because of its thermogenic properties. If you are looking for this ingredient, be sure to also look for it under its scientific name (Ilex paragariensis).

Stacking Yerba Mate

Yerba Mate can be stacked with other stimulants, other fat burning ingredients such as citrus aurantium, carb blockers such as white kidney bean, and fat metabolisers such as L-carnitine.

Andersen & Fogh (2001), Weight loss and delayed gastric emptying following a South American herbal preparation in overweight patients. J Hum Nutr Diet, 14: 243–50
Astorino & Roberson (2010), Efficacy of Acute Caffeine Ingestion for Short-term High-Intensity Exercise Performance: A Systematic Review. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 24: 257-265
Bravo et al (2007), LC/MS characterization of phenolic constituents of Mate (Ilex paraguariensis , St. Hil.) and its antioxidant activity compared to com-monly consumed beverages. Food Res Int, 40: 393-405
Dock et al (1926), The use of theobromine for pain of arteriosclerotic origin. California and Western Medicine, 26: 636-637
Filip et al (2000), Antioxidant activity of Ilex paraguariensis and related species. Nutrition Research, 20: 1437-1446
Kelly (2005), Effects of theobromine should be considered in future studies. Am J Clin Nutr, 82: 486-487
Martinet et al (1999), Thermogenic effects of commercially avail-able plant preparations aimed at treating human obesity. Phytomedicine, 6: 231–238.
Warren et al (2010), Effect of caffeine ingestion on muscular strength and endurance: a meta-analysis. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 42: 1375-1387
Zenk et al (2005), Effect of lean system 7 on metabolic rate and body composition. Nutrition, 21: 179-185

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