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    Archive for the ‘energy drinks’ Category

    Red Bull for Weight Loss?

    176I have overheard some of the most interesting nutrition-related conversations while in line at Starbucks.

    This morning, two college-aged men behind me discussed the many pivotal roles that energy drink Red Bull plays in their lives.

    “Dude, that’s my breakfast whenever I have an 8 AM class,” the scruffy and lankier one sporting  sweatpants and a baseball cap said.  (FYI: This was at a Starbucks in the heart of New York University’s urban campus, where Summer classes are currently in session).

    “I just drink it whenever I eat junk,” his friend countered.  “It speeds up your metabolism, so I when I eat a lot of crap, it burns, like, twice the calories.”

    I was thisclose to turning around and saying something.  The words were about to catapult from the tip of my tongue when I thought, “wait a second, do I really want to be that guy?”

    Alas, I decided to tackle the issue here in case anyone else had similar thoughts on Red Bull consumption.

    A statement on the cans claims the cough-syrup-tasting carbonated beverage “stimulates metabolism.”  This is based on the presence of B vitamins, caffeine, and taurine.

    While caffeine increases heartrate and affects the nervous system in such a way as to heighten awareness, its metabolic effects are short-lived.

    B vitamins are necessary for energy transport at a cellular level, but they do not burn off excess calories.

    Besides, B vitamins are water-soluble, so excesses are excreted in urine (not stored up for calorie-burning).

    Taurine is a sulfur-containing amino acid that is actually a metabolite of two other amino acids.  It is also non-essential, meaning we do not need to obtain it from the diet.

    Some preliminary research conducted on endurance athletes has shown that high levels of taurine supplementation may increase stamina.

    Unfortunately, very little is known regarding the long-term effects of taurine supplementation.

    Red Bull’s ingredients can provide a temporary energy boost, which can come in handy before you engage in strenuous physical activity (in fact, there is a solid body of research showing that caffeine can improve athletic performance).

    In that sense, one could technically conclude that these drinks can result in a higher number of calories burned during exercise.

    Keep in mind, though, that a can of Red Bull adds 110 calories and 6 teaspoons of added sugar to your day.

    Even if you are chugging on a sugar-free version that only contains 10 calories, Red Bull and other energy drinks do not  negate or block the calories in a meal.


    Numbers Game: Answer

    A 16 ounce can of energy drink SoBe Adrenaline Rush contains 16.5 teaspoons of added sugar — all in the form of high fructose corn syrup.


    By comparison, 16 ounces of Coca Cola offer 13.5 teaspoons of added sugar.

    And since this energy drink — like all others — does not contain fat or protein, its entire caloric content (264 calories) is derived from high fructose corn syrup.

    We’re basically talking about soda infused with caffeine, amino acids, and vitamin B12.

    I find that many people are unaware of the caloric punch these drinks can pack.

    For example, I am often greeted with surprise when I tell someone that one SoBe Adrenaline Rush drink and two shots of hard liquor add up to 460 calories.


    Numbers Game: Sugar Rush

    A 16 ounce can of energy drink SoBe Adrenaline Rush contains ______ teaspoons of added sugar — all in the form of high fructose corn syrup.

    a) 16.5
    b) 12

    c) 14

    d) 22.5

    Leave your guess in the “comments” section and come back on Tuesday for the answer.


    In The News: What’s Next? Genetically Modified Bananas With Extra Potassium?

    Desperate times do indeed call for desperate measures.

    Currently experiencing a lull in revenue, coffee giant Starbucks jumps on the energy drink bandwagon 5 years after everyone else.

    That’s right — you can now amp any Starbucks beverage — hot or iced — by simply saying “plus energy” at the end of your order (dare you to order a “grande sugarfree vanilla decaf carameal macchiatto with breve plus energy” without stopping to take a breath!).

    The “plus energy” concoction — created by Starbucks’ “research and development team, a group of culinary experts, food scientists and product designers” — includes the usual suspects: ginseng, guarana, taurine, L-carnitine, and B vitamins.

    FYI: Guarana is a berry native to South America containing four times as much caffeine as coffee beans. It’s extremely popular in Brazil, where it is mainly consumed as a soda, in both regular and diet varieties.

    Is all this really necessary in a coffee-based drink? I vote “no.”

    Why are “energy mixes” billed as the only solution for a drop in energy levels? Is healthy eating and getting enough shut eye not “cool” enough?

    And why are we increasingly encouraging people to walk around like the Energizer bunny on crack?


    You Ask, I Answer: Sports & Fitness Beer (!)

    I’ve stumbled onto a Bavarian non-alcoholic beer that the brewer calls “The Sports and Fitness Drink “

    I’d be very interested to hear what you think about their claims.

    Is it all a crock or might they truly be onto something?

    — Kevin L. Mickle
    Las Cruces, NM

    PS: Over the last 2 1⁄2 months, I’ve lost over 15 lbs fat, 4.5% body fat, 3” off my waist, and gained about 6 lbs muscle (a guess) all from daily exercise and eating right.

    A good portion of “eating right” comes from following your recommendations. Thank you again!

    First of all — congratulations on achieving your health and nutrition goals.

    I know it takes a lot of effort, commitment, and hard work — especially achieving it in a healthy way.

    Onto your question.

    Wow, what a bizarre — and funny — product.

    Erdinger’s “lively, tasty, healthy fitness drink” is a 125 calorie alcohol-free beer that “contains all B-group vitamins and offers high levels of potassium, magnesium, phosphorus” along with all nine essential amino acids and soluble fiber.


    The manufacturer is very skimpy on details.

    The only numbers the website mentions are the 2 grams of protein and 25 percent of the daily folic acid requirement.in each half liter bottle.

    The fiber claim strikes me as particularly odd for two reasons. Firstly, I doubt the fiber content in this beverage is high; wheat beers — regardless of their alcohol content — are not good sources.

    Besides, whatever amount is present is most definitely not in the form soluble fiber. Remember, wheat fiber is exclusively insoluble.

    Lastly, fiber is not something that needs to be replenished after strenuous exercise. It is irrelevant to muscle recovery.

    Verdict? This drink has nothing to do with sports or fitness.

    It’s just a regular non-alcoholic beer with a few vitamins and minerals sprinkled on top for gimmick purposes.

    Feel free to drink it with a meal if you enjoy the taste and can afford the calories, but consider it just another alcohol-free beer.


    You Ask, I Answer: B Vitamins

    How much energy do B vitamins provide?
    — Michael Gardner

    Buffalo, NY

    Ah, yes, the “vitamins give energy” myth. I can understand why many people would think so, given the misleading advertising witnessed in vitamin and energy drink advertisements.

    Centrum Performance multivitamins, for example, state that they use “higher levels of five essential B vitamins” to help create a blend for “the vitality of your mind and body.” Monster Energy drinks boast about their high B vitamin level content.

    From a metabolic standpoint, energy is exclusively derived from the three calorie-containing nutrients: carbohydrates, fats, and protein. Vitamins (and minerals) do not contain calories, and therefore can not be used to produce energy.

    So what’s all the B vitamin hype about?

    Well, the B vitamins play a major role in energy metabolism. Without them, our bodies wouldn’t be able to get sufficient energy from our food.

    In the United States, though (and other developed nations), deficiency of the B vitamins is practically unheard of.

    Remember, the Enrichment Act of 1942 mandates that thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), and niacin (B3) be added to bread products, while a 1996 ruling by the Food and Drug Administration resulted in the required fortification of folic acid (B9) in enriched bread products.

    Additionally, B vitamins are found in fruits, vegetables, legumes, meats, and dairy products. They are certainly not hard to come by!

    The one group of people who are at risk for a vitamin B12 deficiency are vegans.

    This deficiency results in a condition known as pernicious anemia (in which the body is unable to produce enough red blood cells, thereby causing fatigue), but can be prevented through adequate supplementation.

    If your B vitamin intake already meets the recommended values, extra B vitamins will not provide more energy. Since they are water soluble (like Vitamin C), they will simply be excreted in your urine.

    If you are eating sufficient amounts of food and lethargy and lack of energy have been a problem for several weeks, be sure to get a blood test. Chugging energy drinks loaded with B vitamins will do nothing but provide empty sugar-laden calories to your day.


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