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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Should You Drink and Energy Drink Before you Compete in a Sporting Activity?

Yesterday I had a tiring day. I worked out fairly hard in the morning and then had a rec basketball game that started at 9. The game was a close one that came down to the final seconds. Because of the closeness of the game, there were lots of fouls at the end, that stopped the clock, and subsequently, I didn’t get home to close to 10:30.

A friend of my wife was over kibitzing and left close to midnight, so after a shower and winding down, I was in bed sometime in the early hours of the following day.

Although my body told me that I shouldn’t go, I had an appointment with my trainer early this morning. Because I was trying to rest my body as much as possible, I didn’t roll out of bed until there were only a few minutes to spare before I needed to be out of the house.

Consequently, I didn’t have an opportunity to eat anything. Knowing how much my trainer pushed me, I felt like I needed an energy boost to make it through the workout.

When I got to the gym, I glanced over to the glass vending machine that is located behind the check-in station. Quickly, I decided that an energy drink was just the thing the doctor ordered…. Or was it?

I purchased a drink called Turbo Tea (lemon flavor) and quickly downed the 18 oz. I immediately felt like a rock star. The 90 mg of caffeine, ginseng and guarana gave me the boost I was looking for, and also helped me sustain the energy through the entire workout.

Now normally, my trainer kicks my rear end to no end. But today I blazed through the workout and beat it, rather than it beating me. I attribute that completely to the energy drink.

So the question now is are energy drinks a good energy supplement or are they detrimental to your health.

Well, like anything else, excess is not good, but if you occasionally need the boost, then there is nothing really wrong with this, or any approved energy drink.

Generally these energy drinks are nothing more than caffeine, sugar and sometimes taurine. The caffeine in most are right around 80 mg, which is equivalent to the caffeine in a cup of coffee.

Because of the ingredients, many people experience a serious crash when the effects of the caffeine, sugar and taurine wear off. But depending on the amounts you ingested, this shouldn’t happen for an hour or two.

So, if you are looking for a sudden burst to get through a workout, then the occasional ingestion of energy drinks do not cause your body any harm.

Issues with energy drinks arise when they are taken regularly or with alcohol.

Since the ingredients cause dehydration, it is recommended that you do not drink more than one per session, and that you follow it up with plenty of water. Doing so will alleviate the potential for dehydration, and also give your muscles the water they need to expand during your workout.

As for alcohol, it has become popular to mix energy drinks with alcohol in order to offset the downing effect of alcohol with the upper of the energy drink. This is analogous to putting your foot on the gas and brake of your car. Like your car not knowing what to do, your body has difficulty knowing how to act. And because of the high of the caffeine, many people do not realize how intoxicated they are and put themselves, and others, in danger by hopping behind the wheel of a car.

In summary energy drinks can provide a good service to your body, namely giving you the alertness you may be lacking, but only when used in moderation. Like anything else, you should not relay on these types of stimulants to get you through a workout or game. Instead, make sure you are eating healthy and getting sufficient sleep.

That, above all else, will give you the energy you need to compete at the highest level.

Keep Sporting!
- Who’s In First

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