Monday, March 12, 2012

Urban Active Fitness Presents: "Danger In A Can"

by Josh Bowen of Urban Active Fitness

Are you guilty of drinking these? 
When I sat down to think about this blog entry I must admit I felt somewhat hypocritical. Though I remembered it is my duty to present the information for all to read, regardless of what kind of personal experience I have with the topic. With that said and out of the way, I have been drinking energy drinks for a long time. I remember as a trainer, my boss at the time giving me a Red Line to drink and how bad it made me feel. I had heart palpitations and it felt like it was going to beat out of my chest. I never would drink one of those again. After I was promoted I began driving up and down the roads like a mad man. On one particular morning, I did not get much sleep the night before and I started to doze off at the wheel. Not a good combination, going to sleep at the wheel, and all. So I stopped at a local gas station on I-71 and picked up a Red Bull. I had never had one but I thought this would be the only way I could finish the trip without killing myself, falling asleep at the wheel. It tasted great and gave me the energy push I needed.

Fast forward a couple years later and I found another energy drink I enjoyed, Monster. I loved the taste more than I loved the energy that it gave me. I have never had a low tolerance to caffeine, it does not interrupt my sleep patterns (no matter how close to bed time I drink it) and it never gives me a jittery feeling. So after a while, I would drink a Monster ever so often until it became an everyday thing. I would go to a nearby gas station and buy one or go to the grocery and get a box. I liked them and they tasted good. But with everything sometimes too much of a good thing is bad. The fact of the matter is most commercial “energy drinks” are not good for you, in a health sense. Regardless, if they are sugar free or not and most have that option but the sugar filled ones are the most popular.

We all know the drawbacks to sugar, especially High Fructose Corn Syrup, which is commonly used in energy drinks; HFCS is linked to the obesity/diabetes crisis, as well as robbing your body of key nutrients. In certain commercial energy drinks there are up to 40 grams of sugar in each serving. That is an alarming amount considering you are coupling it with caffeine.

Caffeine has its own dark side. Too much caffeine can cause your adrenal glands (glands on top of your kidneys that supply energy) to become over used, causing fatigue. Over ingestion of caffeine also robs the body of B vitamins which are needed for normal energy creation (through the adrenal glands). Caffeine can also cause the body to dehydrate, elevating the body’s heart rate and blood pressure. Finally, you have no idea how much is in these drinks. Often times it is hidden in a secret keyword called, “proprietary blend” or some catchy name. Also, you must consider the other ingredients in energy drinks that increase the caffeine amount and cause danger to the human body.”
  1. Sodium Benzoate- Energy drink preservative, which combined with Vitamin C can become carcinogen benzene. Has been linked to increasing free radicals and cell damage. Think potential cancer causer (for lack of a better term)
  2. Phenylalanine- An essential amino acid but also a neurotoxin and one of the three ingredients in aspartame.
  3. Guarana- Comes from seeds of guarana plant which contain 3 to 4 times the caffeine than a cup of coffee.
So JB, what are you saying? Well I can’t sit here and tell you to drop the energy drinks (because I had one today!) but what I can do is show you the information and let you make the decision. So how would I suggest kicking the habit? Well, depending on how many times per week you have an energy drink, I would reduce that number by one every week. This will allow you to ween yourself off (coming off caffeine can be hard because of headaches, but you have to remember caffeine is a legal drug!) I would also suggest eating raw green vegetables to help your adrenal glands rebuild themselves. This will be important in energy release and trying to overcome the tired feeling you can have. An adrenal support supplement may not be a bad idea either.

So drop the energy drinks, drop the coffee and pick up the water!

Yours in Fitness,

Josh Bowen will be joining Style & Wisdom every Monday for the next few weeks for a series of blog posts about obtaining maximum fitness results.  Josh Bowen has been the Quality Control Director of Personal Training at Urban Active Fitness since 2007 and has trained and directed 400 trainers in 7 states.  Josh has certified trainers, proctored hundreds of seminars and conference calls, and contributed to ten published articles about fitness.  His mission is to spread the word of fitness to as many people as he can through personal training with a motto of "train, motivate, and inspire!" For more useful tips from Josh Bowen, you can find daily posts from him on Urban Active's blog.  

Photo Credits: Red Bull, Urban Active Fitness

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