Researchers study the risks of drinking energy drinks


American researchers studied the effect of energy drinks on the performance and health of athletes

Popular energy drinks promise improved athletic performance and weight loss. But are these goals always achieved? «Of course not,» say researchers at Nova Southeastern University in Florida.

“Energy drinks typically contain higher amounts of caffeine, combined with other additives such as taurine, sucrose, guarana, ginseng, niacin, pyridoxine, and cyanocobalamin,” says Stephanie Ballard, Associate Professor of Practical Pharmacy at Novaya Zvezda University.

Most of the performance boost after drinking energy drinks is due to the effects of caffeine. It certainly improves aerobic performance, but it has an ambiguous effect on anaerobic performance.

A study by Stephanie Ballard and her colleagues titled «The Impact of Commercially Available Energy Drinks on Athletic Performance and Physique» was published in a recent issue of The Physician and Sportsmedicine.

There is conflicting evidence about the effect of energy drinks on weight loss. Several studies have shown that drinking energy drinks during exercise can enhance fat burning. At the same time, calorie burning and weight loss will slow down with repeated use due to the body’s addiction to caffeine.

Do not forget that sugar is often added to energy drinks, so when consumed without the necessary physical activity, they, like other sugar-containing drinks, will only contribute to obesity.

In addition, athletes taking energy drinks should be aware of caffeine limits by sports governing bodies, as well as the associated health risks.

Although caffeine was removed from the World Anti-Doping Agency’s banned list in 2004, its levels in athletes are still monitored to rule out abuse. For example, in the United States, the National Collegiate Athletic Association considers urine caffeine levels higher than 15 µg/ml to be doping, which is roughly equivalent to 8 cups of coffee, each containing 100 mg of caffeine.

As with other active substances, energy drink ingredients can cause adverse effects when consumed in large quantities. However, energy drinks are often classified as dietary supplements, which allows them to bypass caffeine restrictions on food and non-alcoholic beverages.

The Food and Drug Administration has set the caffeine limit for soft drinks at 71 mg/12 fluid ounces. However, energy drinks can contain up to 505 mg of caffeine per can, which is about the same as the total amount of caffeine in 14 cans of Coca-Cola.

Therefore, the use of energy drinks should be treated very carefully, the researchers say. After all, large amounts of caffeine are known to cause insomnia, nervousness, heart rhythm disturbances, osteoporosis, gastrointestinal disorders, cardiovascular disease, and an increased risk of complications during pregnancy and childbirth.

But consuming caffeine in small amounts is safe and improves performance. The amount of caffeine at the level of 6 mg per 1 kg of body weight in healthy people gives a positive result with a low risk of side effects.

Sourced from The Physician and Sportsmedicine

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