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What about energy drinks…?

Posted by Nancy Clark RD CSSD on Jul 27, 2010 8:50:14 AM

What about energy drinks…???  That’s the Big Question I get asked by high school kids, coaches, parents and other active, under-thirty year olds. They want to know if guzzling drinks such as Red Bull and Full Throttle are OK for energy boosters.

 

My response to being asked “What about energy drinks?” is to reply, “Why are you lagging on energy? Did you consume an adequate sports diet earlier in the day?”  Undoubtedly not.

 

Generally, the desire for an energy drink is the symptom of a bigger nutritional problem: skipping breakfast, barely eating lunch and now at 3:00 p.m. needing help to get through the afternoon, including a workout.

 

You’re naïve to think that a can of caffeinated sugar-syrup will optimize performance. While it may stimulate you enough to make the workout seem easier, it will not replace a health-promoting, energy enhancing foundation of wholesome meals and pre-exercise snacks. No energy drink will compensate for poor nutrition.

 

Energy drinks should really be called “stimulant drinks.” They are the equivalent of a small cup of coffee (energy drinks typically contain between 80 to 140 mg of caffeine) with two heaping tablespoons of sugar (or 7 packets of sugar @ 110 calories). That’s enough to get anyone wired! 

 

Many athletes also question if energy drinks are bad for their health. While I have less concern about the occasional energy drink, I am concerned about over-consumption, especially in small children. I read a medical report about a teenage basketball player who drank four cans of an energy drink and died, likely due to heart problems. The dose is the poison.

 

Fuel wisely, play well.

 

Nancy

 

For information on how to choose a high energy sports diet:

Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook

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