In the first part of our short series on the dos and don’ts of pre-workout drinks, we lay bare some inconvenient truths about energy drink side effects that energy drink manufacturers leave out of their aggressive marketing campaigns.
A jolt of energy can help athletes thrive, but not when it comes through a sugar-saturated, heavily caffeinated, and oddly colored liquid. Cue our discussion on the dizzying range of energy drink side effects.
While actively marketing to athletes with claims of improved mental and physical performance, energy drink manufacturers omit references to the health hazards that run in tandem with the quick zip their products provide.
As such, in an age where energy drink consumption is on the rise, athletes remain oblivious to the adverse consequences they face after the cheap burst of energy fades. Given that improved performance should never come at the expense of health, here are some of energy drink side effects athletes should know about.
They may be water-based beverages, but energy drinks are not designed to aid rehydration. In fact, they can have the opposite effect, particularly when combined with exercise. Two common energy drink ingredients, caffeine and guarana (which contains more than twice the amount of caffeine of coffee beans!), act as diuretics, thereby causing the urge to urinate more frequently. When combined with increased sweat loss during exercise, these stimulants put athletes on a pathway to dehydration.
With their abundant caffeine content, energy drinks can negatively impact sleeping patterns. Guarana, is also released more slowly into the body, which can leave people feeling energized when all they want is to call it a night. A poor night’s sleep leaves athletes feeling lethargic the next day, making it harder to concentrate and focus on the training at hand. This, in turn, can lead to a dangerous cycle of compensating for sleep shortage and subsequent fatigue through high doses of caffeine consumed through energy drinks.
It’s not just their high caffeine content that should set alarm bells off for athletes; energy drinks are also notoriously packed with sugar, posing weight gain concerns. A standard 24-ounce can of energy drink contains over 400 calories, which, unlike calories derived from healthy foods, are neither filling nor accompanied with nutritional value. Athletes thus need to factor these additional calories into their daily calorie in versus calorie out calculation, and work harder to burn them off.
While the cardiovascular risks of energy drink consumption are higher for people with existing heart conditions, athletes should nonetheless be aware that regular intake can disturb heart rhythm and lead to increased blood pressure in healthy adults. In worst case scenarios, this can lead to an irregular hear beat and an increased risk of cardiac arrest.
Given that intense exercise already gets the heart pumping, combining it with a synthetic stimulant which intensifies the effect doesn’t bode well for the heart. Again, the high concentration of caffeine appears to be at fault for the side effects of energy drinks on heart health.
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