Friday, July 13, 2007

That elusive obtainable energy?

Hey Folks,

I found this fascinating blog on energy drinks. On this blog the guy reviews a range of energy drinks with the intention of getting a buzz or a kick, but not sport. He'll tell you about flavour, colour, ingredients, and rank the drinks in all sorts of different categories.

The energy drink and Ultimate is a fascinating relationship. Note that Gatorade and Poweraide are sports drinks.

Pictured Above: Peyton Leung releasing a throw at Gender Blender 07 (Photo courtesy of Kevin Brown)

The energy drink is like a halfway step to ephedrines without associated high risk of heart problems. These energy drinks usually contain caffeine and taurine, and I see this usage throughout the Ultimate community. They offer the potential of an energy burst (caffeine), improved focus (caffeine) and delaying muscle fatigue (taurine).

My first experience with the energy drink was a disaster. I drank a full can of brand X (can't remember) an hour before the tournament had even started and by the start of the game I was suffering from anxiety and nervousness. That coupled with the pressure on me resulted in a multiple throw aways. At that time I would barely drink anything with caffeine in it. I would call this situation an overdose, and that's obviously not beneficial to performance.

Nowadays I've seen Red Bull promoters come to tournaments and hand out cans of Red Bull. I've used the sugar-free Red Bull (diabetic factors) late in a tournament (sipping it slowly mind you) and suspected that I was staying energized, but I have no proof. I've drank two of the imported Red Bulls from Thailand in the bottle without the carbonation and they've kept me up for an all night tournament without any trouble. So, focus wise and energy wise the energy drink seems to work.

I know a number of players who live by the energy drink at tournaments. The associated buzz brings them into a place where they're ready to play Ultimate. It's just part of their game.

What type of risks are we taking when we use these products. Health Canada's view on the topic is use a drink like Red Bull as the label describes (2 cans per day) as it is classed a health product. With physical activity, make sure that you are hydrating well. Finally, the classic statement - don't mix with alcohol. From what I've read there doesn't seem to be any high risk of heart attack like ephedrine if used properly (of course I don't have all the information).

I think a greater risk is falling into a situation like I did with my first experience on an energy drink. Nervous energy has little place on the field when you need to make sound decisions and proper execution in the heat of a game. Even on defense you need to be moving fast, but eventually you will have the disc in your hands.

I prefer a coffee with my breakfast and a diet coke during the day with lots of water. I guess, like in most situations with your health, proceed with caution. Use as directed, be aware of your body, and ride the placebo and psychological effect when possible.



Tommy said...

Some notes on caffeine from "Ultimate Sports Nutrition":

* Explosive-power athletes - those who do short-duration sports such as lifting, sprints, etc. - appear not to benefit from caffeine use.
* Endurance athletes - long-distance cyclists, runners, swimers, etc. - can improve their performance with caffeine use.
* Reaction time can be improved with caffeine.
* Heavy coffee drinkers (two to six cups per day) will, upon forced abstinence, experience increased reaction time when they "go back on."
* Administering caffeine to heavy users decreases their reaction time and relieves anxiety.
* The best dose is about three milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of body weight. Below that, little performance improvement is noted, and above that, there will be a performance decrement.
* Administering caffeine to an athlete who uses less than two cups of coffee daily, and who has abstained from it for several days, results in improved performance.
* Improved uptake of free fatty acids by the muscle cells and enhanced use of muscle triglycerides are responsible for improved performance in endurance sports. Both are facilitated by caffeine ingestion. The net effect of the above two functions is that an overall glycogen-sparing process occurs, a plus for long endurance sports such as the marathon or triathlon.
* Fat loss with exercise is increased when caffeine 2.5 to 3.0 milligrams per kilogram body weight is taken prior to exercise.
* The half-life of caffeine in your blood is about 2 to 2.5 hours. Its ergogenic effects therefore are of similar duration.
* Because caffeine penetrates the blood-brain barrier, it exerts a powerful influence upon the sensorimotor cortex of the brain. This results in increased alertness, reduced drowsiness, and a reduced perception of fatigue.