Jan 29, 2015
Fluid Studies

As athletes look for fueling sources that can take them to the next level, new research indicates energy drinks may come with costly side-effects. On the other hand, a less-palatable liquid may provide the boost they need to be successful.
Athletes wanting to stay alert and energized through a long day of workouts, classes, and meetings have long turned to energy drinks to keep them going. But new research indicates that although they can provide a boost to performance, those drinks also carry the potential to drag athletes down.

According to a recent study, while athletes taking energy drinks saw a three to seven percent increase in their athletic performance, once the competition ended, those athletes dealt with negative side effects. A four-year study by researchers at Camilo Jose Cela University in Spain asked athletes in a number of sports to drink the equivalent of three cans of an energy drink or a placebo before a competition. The results?

“Athletes felt they had more strength, power, and resistance with the energy drink than with the placebo drink,” Juan Del Coso Garrigos, one of the authors of the study who is also in charge of the Exercise Physiology Laboratory at the school, told ScienceDaily. “However, the energy drinks increased the frequency of insomnia, nervousness, and the level of stimulation in the hours following the competition.”

In other liquid-fuel news, several football programs are having their players drink beetroot juice after some studies showed possible benefits such as increased muscle efficiency and decreased fatigue levels. At Auburn University, more than half the football team has taken to drinking beetroot concentrate and water prior to games.

Although some players complain about its taste, the University of Texas football team drinks it, as does the Houston Texans. (Amy Culp, the Longhorns’ Assistant Athletics Director and Sports Dietitian, wrote an article for the April/May edition of T&C where she touted beets as a “Superfood.”)

One of the most recent studies on beetroot juice found performance boosts among drinkers who participated in intense intermittent activity patterns. “It’s pretty fascinating,” Andrew Jones, a University of Exeter physiologist who co-wrote the study told the Wall Street Journal, “that something as humble as the beetroot can exert such profound effects.”

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