EGCG speeds up muscle recovery after period of inactivity

Bodybuilders and other strength athletes who start training again after a period of inactivity may regain their lost muscle mass and strength faster by using EGCG. An American animal study published in 2014 in Experimental Gerontology suggests this. But EGCG probably does not help retain muscle mass during inactivity.

EGCG [structural formula on right] is the most important active ingredient in green tea. We recently wrote about an animal study that researchers at West Virginia University did in which green-tea supplementation inhibited muscle breakdown during enforced inactivity. The animal study we’re foisting on you now is along the same lines.

In their animal study the researchers didn’t use any old green tea extract, but concentrated Teavigo, manufactured by DSM/Taiyo Kagaku. This consists for 94 percent of EGCG.

The researchers gave one group of rats EGCG [EGCG-HLS] for four weeks, and another group a placebo [VHLS]. For the first two weeks the rats’ hind leg was immobilised with a splint, as a result of which the muscles in that leg withered. For the last two weeks of the experiment the researchers removed the splint so that the muscles could recover.

The human equivalent of the dose that the researchers used was 500-800 mg Teavigo per day.

Rats in the control group did not have their hind leg immobilised. Those rats were not given EGCG either [VC]. Another control group did not have their leg immobilised but were given EGCG [EGCG-C].

After the first 14 days of the study [HLS] the rats that had not been able to move their hind leg had lost muscle mass in that leg. Both their soleus [SOL] – which contains mainly slow muscle fibres – and their plantaris – which contains mainly fast muscle fibres – atrophied. Supplementation made no difference to this.


When the rats in the experimental group were allowed to use their hind leg again [Recovery] the muscle mass recovered. EGCG supplementation speeded up the recovery of the plantaris.

The figure below shows the amount of strength the animals were capable of developing in their leg muscles. Muscle strength reacted in the same way as muscle mass to supplementation.


Supplementation with EGCG speeded up the transformation of stem cells into muscle cells in both the plantaris [first figure below] and the soleus [second figure] during the recovery period.


“These data represent potentially important observations with clinical implications for the population of elderly persons who suffer from acute disuse and then go through some period of rehabilitation in an attempt to recover function”, the researchers wrote. They hasten to add that they don’t know whether the doses they used are safe for humans.

We wonder whether muscles would recover even faster from a period of inactivity if you combined EGCG with curcumin? Or with leucine?

Epigallocatechin-3-gallate improves plantaris muscle recovery after disuse in aged rats.

Aging exacerbates muscle loss and slows the recovery of muscle mass and function after disuse. In this study we investigated the potential that epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCg), an abundant catechin in green tea, would reduce signaling for apoptosis and promote skeletal muscle recovery in the fast plantaris muscle and the slow soleus muscle after hindlimb suspension (HLS) in senescent animals. Fischer 344 × Brown Norway inbred rats (age 34 months) received either EGCg (50 mg/kg body weight), or water daily by gavage. One group of animals received HLS for 14 days and a second group of rats received 14 days of HLS, then the HLS was removed and they recovered from this forced disuse for 2 weeks. Animals that received EGCg over the HLS followed by 14 days of recovery, had a 14% greater plantaris muscle weight (p<0.05) as compared to the animals treated with the vehicle over this same period. Plantaris fiber area was greater after recovery in EGCg (2715.2±113.8 ?m(2)) vs. vehicle treated animals (1953.0±41.9 ?m(2)). In addition, activation of myogenic progenitor cells was improved with EGCg over vehicle treatment (7.5% vs. 6.2%) in the recovery animals. Compared to vehicle treatment, the apoptotic index was lower (0.24% vs. 0.52%), and the abundance of pro-apoptotic proteins Bax (-22%), and FADD (-77%) was lower in EGCg treated plantaris muscles after recovery. While EGCg did not prevent unloading-induced atrophy, it improved muscle recovery after the atrophic stimulus in fast plantaris muscles. However, this effect was muscle specific because EGCg had no major impact in reversing HLS-induced atrophy in the slow soleus muscle of old rats.
Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

PMID: 24316035 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE] PMCID: PMC4072042