Can Energy Drinks and Supplements Help Your Performance in Sports?
Energy bars and snacks promoted to help athletes or people in physical labor are not new. The American Army gave soldiers chocolate in the Second World War, not just to boost morale but to increase energy levels quickly. The combination of sugar and caffeine would work its way into a soldier’s system quicker and easier than a full meal would.
Kendall Mint Cakes have often been described as the world’s first energy bar and were popular with climbers and hikers and dates back to the 19th century. These bars largely contained sugar, glucose, and not much else. Over the years, energy bars started to become more sophisticated and marathon runner, Brian Maxwell, introduced the PowerBar in 1986 and it started a trend that has continued since.
Energy drinks and protein bars are part of a multi-billion dollar market now and are consumed by teenagers, workers, athletes, and party goers alike. But, are these drinks and energy bars good for you, and can they actually deliver any benefits at all?
What are protein bars good for?
Nutrition bars promise to deliver a good dose of protein, and perhaps energy, in a small package. Usually today these bars weigh in at around 50 grams or less, although the original PowerBar was a 12 cm, 65-gram monster.
A good protein bar will be high in protein and fiber, low in carbohydrates, and not contain any nasty extras. When made correctly they can be highly useful for athletes and someone working out that needs protein and fuel without taking on a big meal. They should be easy to digest and full of natural ingredients, however, many are not.
What makes a bad protein bar?
Athletes have tried many ways to boost sport perfromance, some good and some bad. You might think that protein bars can’t be too bad, but reading the ingredients on a protein bar can make for some shocking news. Some bars contain non-vegan products which may not bother everyone, but they can also contain taurine, sugar alcohols, and unwanted chemicals.
Soy products can cause problems with allergies and may contain genetically modified organisms. Sorbitol, mannitol, and xylitol can all aggravate symptoms of IBS sufferers, and cause bloating.
If sugar or high fructose corn syrup is listed near the start of the ingredients then that is one protein bar you should be avoiding. Consuming high levels of sugar can lead to some serious health problems.
Can energy drinks help athletes?
The best drink for rehydration is water and this is a simple fact. However, many people swear that energy drinks can help with their workouts.
There is no proof that Red Bull will give you wings but it might make your vodka taste better, just wait for the hangover though. Energy drinks cannot make you faster or stronger but there is some proof that they can help in other ways.
Many people will swear that energy drinks can help them stay more alert and focused. They can also delay the effects of tiredness and fatigue, which is one reason why partygoers like them.
Using energy drinks to aid concentration
Although energy drinks were introduced to help athletes and sportspeople, they have found a lucrative market in other areas. They are very popular with students and millions of dollars are spent by this age group alone.
The high levels of caffeine and sugar are useful for warding off tiredness and they are used by students who want to study, video gamers, and even poker players. Kaszinó online are open all night, and poker games can go on for hours. A dedicated casino player might use energy drinks to keep alert and focused during the wee hours.
The problem with these drinks and energy bars is often the level of sugar.
What are the health problems with energy bars and drinks?
Protein bars are processed food, and no one should be eating this type of food every day. They contain high levels of sodium sometimes and can also be packed with sugar. Energy drinks are nearly always full of sugar and often contain worrying amounts of caffeine and taurine also.
Caffeine is addictive and can cause a number of health problems including muscle breakdown, anxiety, high blood pressure, and digestive orders. Ironically, caffeine can also cause fatigue, the very thing that consumers of these drinks are trying to avoid.
A Harvard report notes that energy drinks can have over 40 grams of sugar in one can which is more than a 12oz cup of Coke has. high levels of sugar consumption can lead to diabetes, stroke, heart attacks, inflammation, weight gain, and fatty liver disease.
What about natural supplements?
Many sports such as baseball are highly popular, and the competition in the past has led to some using illegal means to boost their performances. Many others though have gone for natural supplements only with mixed results.
Athletes in the past swore by ginseng but studies have shown no benefits on physical performance. The best way to improve performance might just be to make sure your diet includes beneficial ingredients such as healthy proteins.
Supplements such as Omega 3 fish oil and amino acids can aid with bone repair, muscle recovery, and aid in weight loss.
Generally, eating a well-balanced, healthy diet, and drinking plenty of fluids will benefit your performance in sport or the gym more than any supplement can.
Should you ditch the protein bars and energy drinks?
Not all protein bars are made the same and there are plenty available with good ingredients that can help with workouts or if you are strapped for time at work. Energy drinks should be eyed with more caution, however.
The best way to stay rehydrated is to drink water but if you want to include electrolytes then choose drinks with no added sugar or colors. Energy drinks have their place, and the occasional can while playing video games, or enjoying online blackjack in a casino won’t hurt. Consuming them regularly though may be doing more harm than good.
Brian Maxwell never intended to be a long-distance marathon runner but he lacks the speed to compete over shorter distances. It is also likely that he never intended the PowerBar to spawn so much competition either. He despaired at some of the rivals and commented on the lack of nutritional value some had.
They do have their place though, and by choosing the correct protein bar you can aid your workout and ingest calories easily and quickly. Energy drinks, however, are largely made up of sugar and there are better options for fluid intake for athletes.