Drug Free Sport Staff Writers

Drug Free Sport Staff Writers

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Energy Drinks: America, Land of the Caffeinated

I stopped by 7-Eleven the other morning to grab a cup of coffee/ hot chocolate to aid in my alertness, after spending a night of intermittent sleep with my almost 1 month old daughter. I noticed that of the 8 people in line with me, only 2 opted for non-caffeinated sources of energy. Three of the patrons held coffee, while the other three opted for very large cans of Red Bull, Rock Star and Full Throttle respectable. Hey, I get it, caffeine is an integral ingredient in the American diet, but more and more folks are turning to “energy drinks” today and not just to aid in their alertness, but also to boost libido, athletic performance, and ability to “party.” Energy drinks are frequently marketed to individuals interested in athletics and an active lifestyle. From 2001 to 2008, estimates of energy drink use in adolescent to middle-aged populations ranged from 24% to 56%. Most energy drinks feature caffeine (100 - 400mg) and a combination of other components, including taurine, sucrose, guarana, ginseng, niacin, pyridoxine, and cyanocobalamin.

Energy Drinks are not Sports drinks

If you get anything from this blog, please understand the difference between energy drinks and sports drinks.
Sports Drink – Help to replace lost electrolytes, sodium, and potassium. Many also replace carbohydrates (Body’s main source of true energy) to help maintain energy before, during and after exercise/competition. They do not contain stimulants.
Energy Drink – Aide in stimulating and individual by the use of stimulants. These products usually lack carbohydrates, thus do not provide energy. They do not help to hydrate an individual or provide additional energy. They do contain more concentrated sugar, and herbal ingredients. Many are regulated under DHSEA, which means contamination is a possibility.

Alcohol and Energy Drinks

Caffeine has been combined with alcohol for a very long time (i.e. rum and coke), but the caffeine content has traditionally been much lower than what is found in a number of the leading energy drinks today. Why do club and bar goers chose to mix drinks with energy drinks? Many believe they will increase their enjoyment while reducing the symptomatic lethargy and physical impairment associated with drunkenness. Many don’t know that combining the stimulant effect of caffeine and the depressant effect of alcohol may lead drinkers to underestimate their level of intoxication, with potentially lethal consequences. A study done at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, found that students who mixed caffeine and alcohol thought they were capable of driving more often than those who drank non-caffeinated alcoholic drinks 1. November 17, 2010 the FDA issued warning letters to a number of alcoholic energy drink manufactures, and informed them that their products are a public concern. The concerns included a rise in college campuses across the nation experiencing injuries and blackouts due to ingestion of these drinks. The 6-12 % alcohol by volume may have contributed to this…

Tips to staying alert without caffeine:

• Eat for performance pre and post exercise (this includes, breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks in between)
• Hydrate
• Schedule time to eat, hydrate, practice, socialize, and most importantly, REST.
• Remember - No supplement is harmless and free from consequences.
• “All natural,” does not constitute safe for human consumption, even “all natural” products may have short-term or long-term negative health risks.
• Food first is always your best bet.

Additional information:

 9 of 10 Americans consume caffeine
 200-300 mg. day usually not harmful
 500-600 mg. day = harmful
 Amount depends on body mass, med history, stress
 Interferes with antibiotics, bronchodilators, ephedrine
 Acts as diuretic - dehydrates

1. Event-level analyses of energy drink consumption and alcohol intoxication in bar patrons
Gatorade Sports Science Institute, http://www.gssiweb.com


  1. Nice article. We were discussing pre game/post game nutrition last night after receiving the snack schedule for our son's league basketball team. We don't want to offend anyone but, rarely does my son take the post-game snack because it usually consists of a juice box and donut. Water, good sources of carbs and protein are the way to go.

  2. Concerning energy drinks w alcohol, you listed November 17, 2010 as the date the FDA issued warning letters. Without doing any research, I do know it was about this time when several underage kids purchased the alcoholic energy drink 4LOKO in Denton, Texas. They had an automobile accident and I believe one of the passengers was killed. The story garnered a lot of attention in Dallas with many wanting 4LOKO banned. Apparently, this is an easy way for kids to purchase alcohol if cashier(s) are not paying attention...casually selling an "energy" drink.