Archive for the tag - caffeine

The Downside Of Energy Drinks…

rugbycroppedEnergy drinks are more popular than ever, especially among athletes. In fact, more than 50% of athletes report consuming energy drinks before training or competitions. The belief is that these energy drinks can give athletes a competitive edge.

But is it true? And what are the side effects?

To answer those questions, researchers from Camilo José Cela University published a four-year study that evaluated the pros and cons of energy drinks on athletes. Top athletes from various sports consumed either three energy drinks or three energy drink placebos before competitions. Using GPS, dynamometers and potentiometers, researchers evaluated performance.

According to the data, energy drinks do have a significant positive impact on performance. Overall, athletes were typically able to boost performance by 3% - 7%. They ran further, jumped higher and had more endurance. In competitions where fractions of a second make the difference between winning and losing, the findings are notable.

But it wasn’t all good news. Post competition, athletes who consumed the energy drinks reported higher levels of insomnia, nervousness and stimulation. These side effects are typical for any caffeinated beverage.

It’s also worth noting that energy drinks don’t provide energy. Energy is often measured in calories. One calorie can raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius at sea level. In that sense, energy drinks don’t have any more “energy” than other soft drinks. However, due to the concentration of caffeine, energy drinks have an energizing effect.

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Are Energy Drinks Bad for You?

Energy drinks like Red Bull and Monster have become increasingly popular - especially among adolescents. You’ll see the high-adrenaline advertisements everywhere - and, since energy drinks are still new to the market, much of the marketing is ahead of the science.

It all begs the question: Are energy drinks bad for you?

The FDA limits the caffeine in a can of soda to 65 mg. The FDA does not, on the other hand, regulate caffeine levels in energy drinks - many of which have as many as 280 mg of caffeine per serving. It’s worth noting that healthy adults are advised to stay below 300 - 500 mg of caffeine per day.

Though caffeine isn’t extremely dangerous in-and-of-itself, it can increase anxiety, nervousness, insomnia, muscle tremors and stomach problems.

Energy drinks also contain generous amounts of sugar - which none of us need.

While the occasional energy drink isn’t terrible, experts warn that these drinks should not be combined with alcohol. The stimulating effects of caffeine combined with the intoxicating effects of alcohol is like driving a car and putting one foot on the gas and one foot on the brake.

Many experts also advise refraining from energy drinks prior to intensive workouts due to the strain they place on the body.

As energy drinks are still quite new to the market, they are still largely untested and unregulated. Exercise caution when including these drinks in your diet - and please do so in moderation.

7 Tips to Cut Back on Caffeine.

Addicted to caffeine? Here are 7 tips to cut back.

400 billion is a very big number. It’s also the number of coffees consumed each year by people around the world. In North America alone, it’s estimated that 80% - 90% of adults have caffeine on a regular basis.

Though it’s believed that moderate caffeine consumption may be linked to some health benefits (including lower risk of some diseases, cancers and strokes), too much caffeine isn’t a good thing.

Most experts recommend no more than 200 to 300 milligrams of caffeine per day, which works out to between 2 and 4 cups. According to the Mayo Clinic, heavy caffeine consumption may cause:

  • Insomnia
  • Nervousness
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Upset stomach
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Muscle tremors

With most of us not getting enough sleep - and with sleep being critical for muscle recovery - the symptom of insomnia is of particular concern for many exercise enthusiasts.

To that end, here are seven tips for cutting back on caffeine:

  1. Monitor intake. Using a journal, your phone or a piece of scrap paper, keep track of the amount of coffee, tea and soda that you consume on daily basis. This will help you get a better handle on the situation and give you a starting point.
  2. Take it slow. Gradually reduce your caffeine intake by reducing coffee consumption by 1/2 cup per day. Quitting cold turkey isn’t sustainable - and it can result in painful withdrawal symptoms like headaches.
  3. Replace caffeinated drinks with a cup of caffeine-free herbal tea. Or even water. It’s important to replace an unhealthy habit with a healthier one to help fill the void.
  4. Switch to decaf coffee. There are many great and delicious decaf flavors. Alternatively, you can try watering down your caffeinated coffee to reduce your intake.
  5. Cut brew time. You can reduce the caffeine in tea by brewing it for less time. Or, you can pour out some of the tea and replace it with hot water.
  6. Watch for other caffeine sources. Beyond coffee, tea and soda, caffeine can also be found in other products. There’s some (but not much) caffeine in chocolate, and quite a bit in many pharmaceuticals. Two Excedrin tablets, for example, contain 130 milligrams of caffeine. That’s more than a cup of a coffee.
  7. Plan accordingly. As you gradually decrease caffeine consumption, your body may experience withdrawal symptoms. For that reason, it’s best to make cutbacks during lower-stress periods in your life.

Most of all, know that a low-caffeine life is possible. And, it’s great! I don’t consume caffeine, and yet I have tons of energy and jump out of bed in the morning. No caffeine needed. 🙂

If you have any tips to reduce caffeine consumption, please share them in the comments below!