Energy drinks: Everything you need to know in terms of safety and effectiveness in nine points

More recently, energy shots have also been proposed for their possible ergogenic value in mental focus and / or performance, and sports drinks also exist.

Therefore, first and before going into detail with these nine key points, it is important to make a distinction between energy drinks, energy shots and sports drinks, while making it clear that an energy drink must be that, energy.

Difference between energy drinks, energy shots and sports drinks

The sports drinks are a unique category within the beverage industry and are marketed to consumers with the primary function of promoting hydration, replacement of electrolytes and maintaining the capacity of endurance performance.

Typically they provide a small amount of carbohydrates (eg, 6-8 grams / 100 milliliters) and electrolytes ( sodium , potassium , calcium , magnesium ). For us to put ourselves in situation, these would be the Powerade, the Gatorade, etc.

The energy drinks, on the other hand, generally contain higher amounts of carbohydrates along with nutrients supposedly to improve perceptions of care and / or mental alertness.

In turn, low calorie energy drinks are also marketed to increase mental alertness, energy metabolism and performance.

As for energy shots or energy injections, these are portions of concentrated liquid that contain various ergogenic substances. They are a specialized type of energy drink that usually contains a dose of stimulant caffeine in a small amount of liquid.

While most energy drinks are sold in cans or bottles, energy injections are usually sold in 50-60 milliliter bottles and may contain the same total amount of caffeine, vitamins or other functional ingredients as their larger versions, for example. what can be considered concentrated forms of energy drinks.

Since energy drinks and energy shots contain carbohydrates, caffeine and / or nutrients that can affect mental focus and concentration, they are assumed to have the potential to affect exercise capacity and energy perceptions and / or fatigue .

Energy drinks, are they really energetic?

The adjective that we put to a drink (or anything) has to be real .

Putting a very silly example, if I say that a shirt is soft, it has to be soft. I can not touch it and notice that it is rough and rough.

Well the same with the adjective that we put a drink , in this case the adjective that puts the industry to many drinks, calling them “energetic”, when they really are not, and they are cheating us.

And I explain, an energy drink has to provide what it says, that is, energy, and this energy will provide it with kcal , either kcal in the form of carbohydrates , proteins or fats (usually in the form of carbohydrates).

What can not be is to call a drink as energetic when we look at the label from behind and see that it gives us two kcal per 100 milliliters . Where do I get the energy? Energy with two kcal? Those kcal I spend almost without realizing it without having to make any effort.

Therefore, do not be fooled or believe that all energy drinks are really energetic and they will give you the energy you need, since many do not provide just kcal and we can not get energy from anywhere.

From my point of view, most times a better name for these drinks could be “stimulant drinks”, because they can have a certain amount of substances that stimulate our nervous system and help us maintain attention or keep us awake.

But do not call energy drink a drink that does not provide kcal, and therefore, does not provide energy.

So far the differences between various drinks and my personal reflection on many energy drinks and how the industry deceives us.

Let’s see now what science tells us about the efficacy and safety of these drinks.

Efficiency and safety of energy drinks and energy shots in nine key areas

The International Society of Sports Nutrition critically evaluated the scientific literature and reported a series of recommendations regarding the possible role that energy drinks and energy shots can play in exercise performance, energy expenditure and metabolism, besides making considerations regarding the safety of the use of these beverages, being its conclusions and recommendations the following:

1. Carbohydrates and caffeine as main ergogenic nutrients

Although energy drinks and energy shots contain a series of nutrients that are intended to affect mental and / or physical performance, the main ergogenic nutrients in most of these drinks appear to be carbohydrates and / or caffeine.

2. The benefits of other nutrients in these beverages have yet to be determined

The ergogenic value of caffeine in physical and mental performance has been well established, but the potential benefits of other nutrients contained in energy drinks and energy shots have not yet been determined.

3. Consuming them before exercise can improve performance

Consuming energy drinks 10-60 minutes before exercise can improve mental focus, alertness, anaerobic performance and endurance performance.

4. More research is needed on its safety and its effects on performance

Many energy drinks and energy shots contain numerous ingredients . These products in particular deserve further study to demonstrate their safety and potential effects on physical and mental performance.

5. Low vs high calorie

There is some limited evidence that the consumption of low calorie energy drinks during training and weight loss trials can provide ergogenic benefits and / or promote a small amount of additional fat loss.

However, the ingestion of energy drinks with high calories can promote weight gain if the energy intake of these drinks is not carefully considered as part of the total daily energy intake.

6. Considerations in athletes

Athletes should consider the impact of ingesting high glycemic load carbohydrates on metabolic health, blood glucose and insulin levels , as well as the effects of caffeine and other stimulants on the performance of motor skills.

7. Children and adolescents

The children and adolescents should only consider using energy drinks and energy shots with parental approval after considering the amount of carbohydrates, caffeine and other nutrients in these beverages and on a full understanding of the possible side effects.

8. No more than one a day or we may have problems

The indiscriminate use of energy drinks and energy shots, especially if consumed more than one a day, can lead to adverse events and harmful side effects.

9. Very careful with its use in subjects with diseases

The diabetics and individuals with diseases cardiovascular, metabolic, hepatorenal and neurological preexisting who are taking medications that may be affected by foods high glycemic load, caffeine and other stimulants should avoid the use of energy drinks and energy shots unless it is approved by your doctor.

In turn, I add, as I mentioned in the article on the influence of alcohol on performance , that the mixture of energy drinks with alcohol can be fatal, since individuals predisposed to arrhythmia due to congenital disorders or other heart rhythm disorders can have a higher risk of malignant cardiac arrhythmia with the mixture of these beverages, since the autonomous cardiac control is weakened.

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