Energy Drinks & Hydration

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Energy Drinks & Hydration

Postby SportsMedicineCenter » Mon Aug 11, 2008 11:46 pm

Players are regularly reminded to consume adequate fluids and fuel to minimize early fatigue and to maximize performance and recovery, the concept of an "energy" drink—fluid and energy together in one bottle—is very appealing. Having more energy can improve one's capacity for work, a very desirable characteristic for all and especially for active individuals. However, in addition to good hydration and sufficient food energy, an athlete needs adequate rest, frequent meals or snacks, and optimal consumption of carbohydrates to help feel energized. Moreover, there are likely to be additional elements that causefluctuations in various neurotransmitters in the brain that can lead one to feel energized; these elements may have nothing to do with either food energy or hydration status.

Other than water, most of the products marketed as energy drinks contain carbohydrate and caffeine as their principal ingredients—the carbohydrate to provide nutrient energy and the caffeine to stimulate the central nervous system, but they may also contain a wide variety of other ingredients. Athletes must be made aware that energy drinks are not appropriate substitutes for optimal fuel and fluid and may have no bearing at all on how energized they feel. In addition, athletes should be educated about these products. For example, some energy drinks do not contain the stated ingredients, many are not cost-effective means of obtaining carbohydrate, and certain products may actually impair athletic performance.

Why are these "energy" products so appealing to athletes? For many athletes who need to juggle sports, school, and personal lives, squeezing in time for optimal eating and drinking is not a part of the athlete's lifestyle equation. For these athletes, gulping down an energy drink may be perceived as a quick way to consume extra energy to get through the day, compensate for a perceived deficiency in vitamins, minerals, herbs, or some other nutrient, boost endurance, expedite recovery from exercise, burn fat, increase lean muscle mass, or improve brain function. Unfortunately, most of these energy drinks cannot deliver on such high expectations.

Being optimally "energized" requires a suitable level of physical activity, adequate sleep, effective fueling and hydration strategies, and probably other unknown factors that affect neurochemicals in the brain. An energy drink alone will never make up for all of these elements. When it comes to choosing any food or beverage product, athletes must be skeptical consumers and ask questions before buying. Here are some guidelines:

1) Label reading is necessary!
2) Athletes using medications should avoid any product that contains herbs.
3) If there is no Nutrition Facts or Supplement Facts panel, athletes should not buy the product.
4) Athletes need to know if the ingredients are legal and safe.
5) Athletes should examine the Nutrition Facts panel for the total carbohydrate content as well as calories.
6) Avoid the product if the evidence for claims is non-existent, incomplete, or unsubstantiated!
7) If it sounds to good to be true, chances are that it probably is!

Energy drinks are not adequate substitutes for the time, training, rest, recovery, and fueling required for sports. YOU must take the responsibility for what goes into their bodies, which includes being informed as well as cautious about dietary supplements. :shock:
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