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Caffeine Crash

Energy Drinks and Sports Performance

“Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him.” – James 1:5

With more than 500 new energy drinks launched worldwide this year, every parent and student in America needs to do their homework and be aware of what they are drinking. For instance, did you know that an 8-ounce Red Bull contains the caffeine equivalent of a cup of coffee (almost 2.5 times the amount in Coke)? Many of these drinks also pack in a ton of sugar and other “natural” ingredients, many of which are additional stimulants. As the popularity of energy drinks grows, it is important to have the information you need to make the best-possible decisions concerning your body.

Training for peak athletic performance includes the standards of strength and speed training and sport-specific drills. But today, energy drinks are becoming a staple in the athlete’s arsenal for attaining optimal performance. Do drinks that tout “increased energy” keep their promises? More importantly, should these drinks be an acceptable option for young athletes?

While several studies have shown that some caffeine can improve performance on the field, nutritionists warn that these drinks can hook kids on an unhealthy jolt-and-crash cycle. Recent reports also show that our youth are often drinking several cans in a row. According to Cynthia Sass*, a board-certified specialist in sports dietetics, energy drinks should not be used to power-up your workouts or on-the-field performances.

She cites some common risks associated with many of these energy drinks:

• When combined with the fluid-loss experienced during exercise, high doses of caffeine (a diuretic) can cause dehydration and muscle cramping.

• Increased heart rate and blood pressure can overstimulate your nervous system and make you lose focus and become jittery.

• The high sugar content can prevent the uptake of fluids during training and competition.

• Performance can fall when you crash from the sugar and caffeine boost, as you will have slower reaction time and reduced strength and focus.

The bottom line is this: Each family or athlete should approach the use of energy drinks with caution. Consider your motives for using these drinks and test it against God’s standard. Regular sleep, exercise, proper nutrition and drinking plenty of water are great natural alternatives to the energy drink craze.

Energy Drink Stats
• 31% of U.S. teenagers (7.6 million) say they drink energy drinks.
• Energy drinks have created a $3.4 billion-a-year industry that grew 80% last year.

 Popular Brand









  one tablet



 SoBe (No Fear)

 16 (8)

 166 (83)



  16 (8)

 160 (80)


 Full Throttle

  16 (8)

 141 (70)



  16 (8)

 140 (70)










 Red Bull




 Coffee (generic)




 SoBe (Adrenaline Rush)




 Mountain Dew




 Coca Cola




 Green Tea (generic)




*From “What’s the Buzz About Energy Drinks?” by Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD/LD

Medical Disclaimer: All information in this article is of a general nature and is furnished for your knowledge and understanding only. This information is not to be taken as medical or other health advice pertaining to your specific health and medical condition. Always consult a physician or health professional before beginning any exercise or nutrition program.

*For more stories about faith and sport, visit, the official magazine of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.


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