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Energy and Sports Drinks: Good or Bad for Athletes?

September 13, 2013 2 min read

I love energy drinks - Monster in particular! When I have to drive long distances, I'll usually have one to keep awake after a few hours. It just works when I need to stay awake.energy-drinks However, when it comes to my exercise routines, I prefer to stay away from them. "Why?" you may ask. Here's why: Energy Drinks are Linked to Heart Problems -- Energy drinks like "5 Hour Energy" have been recently linked to heart attacks. That's thanks to the caffeine and taurine in the drinks, which raise your blood pressure and make your heart beat faster. This can lead to irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias). The good news: it only happens if you drink too many too often! Energy Drinks Reduce Cognitive Function -- Drinking caffeinated beverages - like energy drinks -reduces overall brain function, or so certain articles claim. As a man that relies on my brain for my work - and for my martial arts - I can't afford to have reduced brain power. These drinks also slow down reaction speed - terrible for when I'm sparring! These are the risks that affect me personally, but there are a few more:
  • Raise women's risk of miscarrying
  • Increase risk of injury when combined with alcohol (can anyone say Speed-Bomb?)
  • Increase chances of developing a drug abuse habit.
For me, I just prefer to say no to these energy drinks unless I absolutely need them. What About Sports Drinks? Sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade have been marketed as "performance-oriented drinks", but the truth is that they're little more than sugared water with some electrolytes. There's a lot of calories in these drinks, and they're all empty calories.

gatorade_pepsico_new_packaging_2009(2)

However, there are occasions when a sports drink will come in handy:
  • Extended Workout -- Training for more than 60 minutes will drain your body of electrolytes, and the sports drinks will come in handy to replenish them.
  • Intense Workout -- If you're trying to bring the intensity to your daily HIIT workout, you'll burn through energy like a rockstar! You may need to refuel in order to stay standing for the rest of your day, and a bit of sports drink will help you.
It's recommended that you only drink sports drink if you're going hard or going for hours - otherwise, there's nothing better than a glass of cold water!

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