Liquid Controversy

The Highs And Lows of Energy Drinks

As a goalie, the last thing Steve Cash needs is a case of the shakes, especially when he’s staring down an attacking forward.

Read The Label

If you want to minimize harm to yourself, make sure you read labels carefully and pay attention to the amount of ingredients you’re consuming:

• Most energy drinks contain between 70 and 200 mg of caffeine. A full 16 oz. can of RockStar contains 200 mg of caffeine while a 12 oz. can of Coca-Cola contains 34 mg.

• The B vitamins are meant to work together and can cause series side effects if taken alone in high doses.

• Ginkgo Biloba is safe when taken in doses under 240 mg.

• You don’t need to supplement L-Carnitine, but if you have an irregular diet, you can take up to two to six grams without worry. Be sure it is L-Carnitine and not D-Carnitine, because your body can’t use D-Carnitine.

Having pucks rifled at his head when he’s seated inches off the ice is already enough to leave him shaking in his sled. He doesn’t need to add to it by downing an energy drink minutes before hitting the ice.

“I don’t drink energy drinks,” says Cash, an 18-year-old goalie for the U.S. Sled Hockey Team. “I have, but I don’t like it. It kind of gives me the jitters.”
Instead, sticking to a sport drink allows Cash to keep his eye on the puck.

“Before and after a game and between periods I drink Gatorade, and I’m more focused,” he says. “I’m a lot smoother in my abilities, and I can see the puck better.”

As kids are being constantly pushed beyond their limits in school and on the ice, energy drinks are slowly finding their way into the line up.
   
Much has been written about the effects energy drinks have on people, especially the younger generations, and people are starting to take matters into their own hands.
   
Marketed around the phony promise to improve physical and mental performance, energy drinks appeal to an athlete’s goal of being stronger, faster and better. Because youth sports are growing more competitive, energy drinks are seen as a means to gain that extra edge over the competition.
   
However, in the hands of kids, the ingredients found in most energy drinks, like caffeine and the herb guarana, can have dangerous effects.

That’s why schools have begun banning energy drinks on campuses, while some convenience stores have refused to sell to minors. Some rinks are getting in on the act by not selling energy drinks at concession stands or in  vending machines.

Coaches are also noticing the difference in their athletes on energy drinks.

“I get on my kids’ cases because they are so up and down,” says Dan Brennan, the coach of a Colorado Springs Midget AA team during the 2007-08 season. “Those drinks may be good for a quick boost, but halfway through the game they crash.”

In addition to these rise-and-crash patterns, the combination of caffeine and caffeine-like herbs can cause abnormal heart rhythms. Exercise increases blood pressure, which causes the heart to work harder. Adding caffeine, which is a stimulant, forces the heart to work harder just to keep up.

Josh Holmes, a 17-year-old with the Mission Colorado Kodiaks inline team, recalls the jittery feeling that took over his body after drinking SoBe Adrenaline Rush.

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“If it’s a game where everyone is playing and I’m on the bench, I feel like I’m sitting still but moving at the same time,” Holmes says.
Although you may feel an extra burst of energy or feel as if you can play forever after a swig of an energy drink, that feeling wears off. Then you just feel tired and sluggish and sometimes sick.

“An hour after the game I’d be really tired and crash,” Holmes says. “I’ve seen other players who drink Rockstar or Monster, and toward the end of the game they’ll get tired.”

Sports drinks such as Gatorade and PowerAde are the safer alternative to their caffeinated counterparts while offering similar results. Sports drinks also contain the vitamins, calories and electrolytes that an athlete needs in order to recover after an intense workout.

Still, too much of a good thing can be bad for you. Sports drinks are great for during or immediately after a game, but those extra calories can lead to weight gain if drank regularly outside of competition, while those juiced-up waters may provide more vitamins than should be consumed in a day.
   
“The best thing after a game is chocolate milk,” Brennan says. “It has everything you need.”

 

Photo By Tom Kimmell
Issue: 
2008-09

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