Red Bull Bull

I recently overheard conversation at the water cooler about members of a local high school soccer team drinking Red Bull before a game.

"...And I can't believe those girls can get away with that."
"Yeah, that stuff is terrible. Probably illegal." 

I held my tongue, suspecting, wondering how many gallons of morning coffee and afternoon loaded frozen coffee drinks these middle aged women consume in order to spin the rumor mill and travel from desk to copier.

Reports indicate that over 50% of collegiate athletes and over 30% of all adolescents consume energy drinks. Statistics don't indicate what percent of these are for party or X-box binges?

Are energy drinks dangerous?

If by dangerous you mean relatively safe and effective for enhancing the ability of the body to utilize fat for energy (and therefore endurance exercise performance), enhancing muscle activation at both the brain and neuromuscular junction (and therefore strength and power performance), lessening rate of perceived exertion, decreasing reaction time, and increasing concentration, focus, and motor memory...

[I have plenty of references if you like.]

58% more acceptable than a Red Bull

Then sure, energy drinks are wicked dangerous. The Red Bull police should let the coaches, parents, and athletes decide governing bodies of competitive sports decide what is admissible in their own arena. There are no bans on energy drinks, at least right now (though some committees ban caffeine in outrageous amounts).

The line is beyond grey. Ban Monster and Rock Star, but not Starbucks Refreshers energy drinks? What about having a Mountain Dew before the game? Three Mountain Dews? Ban Vegas Fuel from scholastic baseball but not ski club?

So yeah, I'm pro energy drink. I don't drink them because coffee is my caffeine vehicle of choice. Either way, restraint is definitely in order:

1. Use energy stuff only when you need an edge. Energy drinks are no substitute for consistent, smart, and intense training with appropriate rest and recovery. No, you don't need the eye of the tiger for a Game of Thrones movie marathon. Regularly using energy drinks just to get through a typical day calls for a serious life evaluation. There is something wrong (or soon to be) that you can't blame on Red Bull.

2. Know about diminishing returns / Don't be stupid. Feeling amped is relative.The more you go to the edge, the less you get out of it. If you use too much of anything too often you will want and need higher doses more frequently. Suddenly you're caught in a downward spiral that leaves you bungee jumping from an airplane into a graffiti strewn skate park for a first attempt at an ollie kick flip. Without elbow pads.

But seriously, adrenal fatigue is real. Take inventory of your overall caffeine intake. Athletes should make efforts to save any caffeine for when it counts. Check labels. Make sure that for every 4 hours hype you spend at least 32 chill.

For example, a 175 pound athlete would have the best dose response (effectiveness without side effects) at about 400 mg of caffeine. For comparison, a generic cup of coffee has approximately 150 mg of caffeine per 8 ounces, and Pepsi contains about 35 mg per 12 ounces. Most energy drinks contain about 75 to 100 mg of caffeine per serving, plus taurine and a few other ineffective ingredients.

3. Treat caffeine (and other ingredients in energy drinks) like a drug. 

Because they are. Make sure that you're using the effective, mildly addictive drug for what it's worth and it's not using you. Do you imagine there's anything in this world, much less any drug, that is healthy or beneficial in regular high doses? You are not an exception. The body knows the truth, sooner or later reveals the truth.

Otherwise I'll have to get Red Bulled up to defend you at the water cooler.

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1 comment:

  1. Great Article as always...I was once told at a VegasFuel Event that "THAT STUFF WILL KILL YOU"...the person who said this was drinking a MUDSLIDE cocktail with Sugar around the rim...her counter part? A middle aged man drinking a Vodka Tonic and a beer...