Sports Nutrition To Go
ServicesAbout SN2GResourcesNewsSupplementsContact SN2GHome Page

02-06 Energy Drinks

Winter, Post Holiday Blah's
Are You Looking for Energy!
by Jon Zwitt and Dawn Weatherwax

Energy is defined as the capacity of a physical system to do work or perform a vigorous activity. Energy for the human body is typically obtained through consuming the proper and necessary foods, hydration and sleep. Carbohydrates are the main source of energy, while proteins and fats provide certain needed functions as well. Water helps remove toxins from the body while sleep allows our body to recover and heal.

In society's "quicker, faster, easier" mentality, however, a popular fad has developed for apparently gaining energy. Many people have turned to products such as Red Bull, or other enhanced drinks to seemingly increase their levels of energy. This raises a couple of questions, such as: Do these drinks accomplish what their claims advertise and are they safe and healthy alternatives for proper nutrition?

Energy drinks, which include brands such as: Red Bull, 180 Sprint, Jolt, Monster, and several others, are beverages filled with high amounts of caffeine, sugar, and other stimulants. They typically contain the same amount, if not more, caffeine than a cup of coffee.

" of the major problems with energy drinks is that people do not know what they are consuming. Many times the actual ingredients do not correspond with the listed ingredients on the can."

This is equal to about 80mg of caffeine, which is more than double the amount in a twelve ounce Mountain Dew, which contains 37mg, and more than three times the amount in a twelve ounce Coca Cola, containing 23mg. Some individuals will consume several energy drinks a day. This is equivalent to a twelve pack of soda, plus all the stimulants and sugar added in!

Small doses of caffeine have been proven effective for exercise lasting one minute to two hours. However, the large doses that are present in energy drinks will produce a counter-effect. The caffeine found in energy drinks can have both laxative and diuretic effects that may hinder rather than help performance.

Energy drinks are typically marketed to people under the age of thirty and especially to college students and athletes. These drinks can also be popular for people that are constantly on the go and feel they do not have time for a balanced meal. Many individuals use these drinks as a mechanism to give them a boost prior to and during competition or simply to get them through the day.

Research findings have determined that this is certainly not a recommended technique for either of these tasks. Some of the other main ingredients of energy drinks include: guarna, taurine, various forms of ginseng, maltodextrin, inositol, carnitine, creatine, glucuronolactone, vitamins, minerals, and ginkgo biloba. The main purpose of these drinks is to give the user a rush or a burst of energy.

However, one of the major problems with energy drinks is that people do not know what they are consuming. Many times the actual ingredients do not correspond with the listed ingredients on the can. Some drinks contain ingredients that are omitted, while others do not always contain what they claim. Most of these ingredients, such as creatine, are added in such small amounts that the benefits seen will be minimal to none. This can cause adverse reactions and individuals need to be cautious.

The stimulants in the energy drinks can have several harmful effects as well. They can raise heart rate and blood pressure, cause dehydration, and prevent quality sleep. Many times stimulants are not listed or they are grouped together without specific names. This omission has created problems for collegiate athletes because these substances are not guaranteed for approval by the NCAA. In some recent cases, energy drinks have been responsible for athletes identified as positive after being drug tested.

The stimulants combined with the high doses of caffeine and sugar, are certainly not healthy alternatives to sports drinks, such as Gatorade. Many consumers purchase the sugar free brands of energy drinks with thoughts of a healthier choice. However, the effects of the stimulants and caffeine will still be evident even with the sugar free energy drinks. Although individual responses to caffeine will vary, all aspects of ingesting energy products should be carefully considered.

The use of energy drinks during exercise can be especially dangerous. The fluid loss from sweating during a workout combined with unpredictable side effects can increase the possibility of injuries and inconsistent performances. Energy drinks do not have the same effects that sports drinks have and should not be used as a supplement to Gatorade or other sports drinks.

Sports drinks are designed to replenish electrolytes, water, and other nutrients that the body loses during exercise. These nutrients are usually isotonic, which means they are proportionate to the amounts found in the human body. Energy drinks contain high levels of sugar and or caffeine and are not relevant to the amount of nutrients in the body.

The Results Are In
If you are looking for an extra boost to finish the day on a strong note or to improve competition results, the healthiest and best research based approach is through proper nutrition. Through a proper balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats, along with proper hydration through water or sports drinks, an individual is much more likely to improve his or her energy levels. Don't leave out the importance of sleep. The combination of all above will certainly help people to stay alert and energized and will give athletes and non-athletes a competitive edge.

If you want more energy, proper nutrition and sleep are the way to go. So what are you waiting for? Put down the Red Bull and pick up more fruits, vegetables, proper hydrating sources and plan more quick naps. Your body wants them! Your body needs them! Start giving in to your body and feel better about it, too!

Here is a recent study to look at how energy drinks can affect performance negatively. I personally will still recommend to my clients who do marathons or ultra-endurance sports a certain level of caffeine in specfic dosages that is supported by other research. But as far as all other sports or people who workout for less than 2 hours of constant aerobic activity, I do not suggest it. My opinion may change if more research is provided.

(HealthDay News) Caffeine slows down heart blood flow during exercise, study finds

17/01/2006 9:48:00 PM 
Having a coffee fix just before a workout may not be the best idea,a new study suggests. Researchers in Switzerland found that the amount of caffeine in just two cups of coffee limits the body's ability to increase blood flow to the heart during exercise.

"Whenever we do a physical exercise, myocardial blood flow has to increase in order to match the increased need of oxygen. We found that caffeine may adversely affect this mechanism. It partly blunts the needed increase in flow," Dr. Philipp A. Kaufmann, of the University Hospital Zurich and Center for Integrative Human Physiology, said in a prepared statement. The study included 18 young, healthy people who were regular coffee drinkers. They did not drink any coffee for 36 hours prior to study testing. The researchers used high-tech PET scans to measure the participants' heart blood flow before and after they rode a stationary bike. Ten of them did this in normal conditions, and eight did the exercise in a chamber that simulated being at about 15,000 feet altitude. Both groups repeated the testing procedure after swallowing a tablet containing 200 milligrams of caffeine - the amount contained in two cups of coffee.

As reported in the Jan. 17 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the caffeine did not affect heart blood flow when the participants were inactive. However, measurements taken immediately after exercise showed a slowdown in heart blood flow after they'd taken the caffeine tablets, compared to their previous results. Heart blood flow was 22 percent lower in those who exercised in normal air pressure and 39 percent lower in those who exercised in the high-altitude chamber, the researchers report. They believe caffeine may block certain receptors in the walls of blood vessels, interfering with the normal signaling process that causes blood vessels to dilate in response to exercise.

"Although these findings seem not to have a clinical importance in healthy volunteers, they may raise safety questions in patients with reduced coronary flow reserve, as seen in coronary artery disease, particularly before physical exercise and at high-altitude exposure," the study authors wrote.

While some people regard caffeine as a stimulant, this study suggests it may not increase athletic performance. "We now have good evidence that, at the level of myocardial blood flow, caffeine is not a useful stimulant. It may  be a stimulant at the cerebral level in terms of being more awake and alert, which may subjectively give the feeling  of having better physical performance. But I now would not recommend that any athlete drink caffeine before sports," Kaufmann said.

Copyright 2006 ScoutNews, LLC. All rights reserved

Journal of the  American  College of  Cardiology, 2006; 47:405-410

© 2006 by the American College of Cardiology Foundation

Superbowl Snacks!

It is hard to make healthier choices on such a big event! Here are some healthier options that taste great!

Rita Nader Heikenfeld, CCP, CMH
- Macy's Regional Culinary Professional
- Syndicated Columnist, Community Press Newspapers

Goal Line Snack Mix

Just throw this all together. You can get a lot of servings, about 16 1/2-cup servings.

  • 4 cups corn cereal squares
  • 1 cup dry roasted nuts or soy nuts
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup dried mixed fruit
  • 1 cup yogurt covered raisins
  • 1/2 cup dried pineapple chunks

Peanut Butter Crunch Break

This is great on crackers, fruit or veggies.

Mix together:

  • 1 cup reduced fat peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower or pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 3 tablespoons honey

Rita's Fiddle Faddle Clone

Love that Fiddle Faddle popcorn crunch that you buy in the store? Well, you can make your own, and for a fraction of the price! The bonus? My recipe is delicious and contains less fat and calories.

  • 4 cups popped corn
  • 1 tablespoon flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup caramel ice cream topping, heated in microwave
  • 1 cup dried Cranberries or cherries

Mix popcorn and flax. Pour topping over, stirring to coat as well as you can. Don't worry if all pieces aren't coated – that will happen in the oven. Pour onto sprayed cookie sheet. Bake in preheated 250 degree oven for 30-40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Let cool. Makes 4 cups.

Testimonial for Services

"I am a 43 year old female who stopped smoking and found that my metabolism had disappeared. Or so I thought. I am an active person. I exercise 4-5 times per week and eat healthfully for the most part. I had added about 8 pounds after quitting smoking and couldn't seem to drop them."

"I came to SN2G for help. What I found was someone to educate me on what types of food I should be eating and when. I also found that when I kept a food diary I was eating more calories than I thought. In addition, my workouts had become routine and needed to be intensified."

"By combining these concepts I was able to change my body composition in just a little over 2 months. I lost 6 pounds but more importantly gained nearly 4 pounds of muscle!"

"I plan to continue my relationship with Dawn to keep focused and motivated in the future."

L Martin

Current News

Speaking Engagements
Dawn Weatherwax spoke to Queen City Prophets on "Hydration for Sports" in Jan 06'

Dawn Weatherwax spoke to Wilmington College athletic staff on "Nutrition and Performance" in Jan 06'

New Presentation
Dawn Weatherwax will present on "General Nutrition Guidelines for Healthy Weight Management" and "Supplementation for Athletes" to the Dayton Sports Medicine Institute on Feb 06. Receive 3.0 CEU from the NATA.

Top of Page