Energy drink and a sports drink, they differ quite dramatically. Energy drinks are marketed to boost energy. Sports drinks are typically marketed as hydration replacement combined with some replacement of nutritional need. And so, from a sports drink perspective, these products typically are marketed to replace water that’s lost during exercise, as well as replace other vitamins, electrolytes, carbohydrates, and proteins that can help you recover more quickly or just optimize your performance through an extended period of time if you’re exercising in different extreme environments, for example.
Energy drinks are typically products that contain high amounts of stimulants and those stimulants can include things like sugar, or they can include more potent stimulants like caffeine or even other banned stimulants. Typically, the side effects are associated with the stimulant properties of the compounds included in the product, so they can range from things like cardiac effects, so racing heart rate, even tachycardia, if you’re taking multiple servings all at the same time, to things like digestive issues. Taking in lots of sugar and caffeine can have effects on your digestive system and how that performs.
I think where the risk lies for younger athletes is these products are primarily manufactured and serving sizes that are geared to athletes. If my ten year old is drinking a Monster energy drink and the amounts of those ingredients are geared towards an adult and they’re consuming a whole can of it, they’re getting a huge dose compared to a larger adult individual. And so, that’s where the dangers lie.
You saw it in TrueSport, we take a food first approach and we take a holistic approach to performance. We want to make sure our athletes are well fed and their nutritional needs are met. We want to make sure that they’re rested and ready to compete. We want to make sure they’re adequately hydrated. And so, all these things come into play when you’re looking at performance and taking a shortcut and giving an athlete just an energy drink in order to boost their performance. In the short term, you may not be doing your young athlete justice because those effects could wear off quickly and you could actually be worse off after those effects wear off, rather than doing a whole holistic balanced approach in order to perform at your best for an extended period of time.