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Energy Drinks? Don't Waste Your Resources

One of my many jobs involves teaching nutrition to business students at a nearby college. I really love doing this, because, of course, I think the information they get is the most important information in the world (even if they are there to study business).

Well, that's not completely true. The truth is that I have a very important chance to teach them how to distinguish nutrition fact from myth and misinformation. Every lecture starts with a personal question about nutrition they wrote on an index card their first class.
This way I am able to directly address their personal concerns, before I hit them with all the rest of the science they'd rather not hear.

I want to tell you about last week’s question. It had to do with what are called “energy drinks.” You’ve seen them in the stores, on the shelves. You find them in brightly colored bottles containing promises to improve your health, vitality, memory, physical performance.

That, my friends, is the myth. Let’s talk about the facts.

Fact #1. The word “energy” means “calories.” And the number of calories found in these flavored waters is about the same as in a soft drink, unless it contains artificial sweeteners. If the beverages contain sugar, then they are correct in calling themselves “energy drinks.” But we know that is not the type of energy they want you to believe is found in their products. However, the advertisements make you think that these beverages will improve your mental and physical performance.

Fact #2. No scientific evidence, to date, has been found to support their claims to boost energy. One reason you may feel more alert after swallowing one of these drinks is because they contain caffeine. An herb called ephedra used to be added to some of these products, and some people did feel a boost because of this. However, ephedra was found to be a dangerous supplement: people died after consuming the product, and it was removed from the market. Now, however, a different herb, guarana, can be found in drinks making the “energy” claim. Again, there is no proof for the products’ claims, and there may be a danger associated with the herb itself.

Fact #3. Unfortunately, the government does not regulate herbal supplements, so the consumer must learn for him/herself. Nor does the government regulate the vitamins and minerals found in these beverages. And without any regulation, these enriched beverages are still marketed as giving your “energy.”
Again, you must remember, energy means calories! The only reason you may be “energetic” is from the sugar and/or caffeine that has been added.

Fact #4. Vitamins do not contain calories. Yes, we do need vitamins, but our body can only use them when we have actually consumed food. We need vitamins to help our bodies get the energy needed from the foods we eat. Whether taken in pill or liquid, without food, you are wasting both vitamins AND money. Most of the vitamins we consume in excess of what our bodies need are excreted in our urine. It has been said that Americans have the most expensive urine in the world!

There is really only one reason for you to drink these energy beverages, and that is because you like them. If you are not at risk for disease (high blood pressure, seizure disorder), you are probably going to be fine drinking caffeinated, sweetened beverages. Just remember: if you think you are getting any special boost to improve your mental and/or physical performance, you are wasting your energy.

And that's a fact.

Become At Peace with Food: Stop Dieting and Lose Weight

NOTE: Information in this site should not replace any medical advice you have
received from your primary care doctor or other medical professionals.