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Beware of ‘Bull’

There is no magic formula in a jar that’ll give you peak performance. In fact, some energy drinks can be quite dangerous.

Want more energy for sports? Eat and drink smart.

That is a message from the Dietitians of Canada. This organization, along with the American Dietetic Association and the American College of Sports Medicine, has written a new position paper on the best nutrition for athletic pursuits.

There is no magic formula in a jar that’ll give you peak performance. In fact, some energy drinks can be quite dangerous. “Energy drinks should not be confused with well-designed sports drinks such as Gatorade, Powerade and eLode,” says Susie Langley, a certified specialist in sport dietetics and co-author of the position paper.

Energy drinks like Red Bull, Full Throttle and RockStar can deliver a “high caffeine, high sugar kick” which make them a “no-no” immediately before or during and even after an event, says Langley.

Instead, you need to eat a wide variety of foods to get enough carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals. If you don’t eat properly, effects include losing muscle mass, stopping your period, losing bone density and increasing your risk of fatigue and injury.

It is critical to drink enough fluids before, during and after exercising or competing to replace the liquids you’ve lost in sweat. If you are not sure about a product, ask a dietitian.

Langley is concerned that young people are consuming too much caffeine when they consume energy drinks for a quick lift. This can lead to dangerous side effects such as anxiety, insomnia, high blood pressure, stomach upset, rapid heartbeat and withdrawal symptoms when caffeine is discontinued. For instance, two cans of Red Bull contain a toxic amount of caffeine for a child who weighs about 66 pounds (30 kg). Adults could get a toxic hit of caffeine from two RockStars and a Grande Starbuck’s coffee.

Here are some tips from the Dietitians of Canada on eating and drinking for best sports nutrition:

Before exercising:

• About two to three hours before an endurance event, drink plenty of fluids and eat a balanced meal that includes grain products, fruits and vegetables and a low-fat protein choice such as chicken.

• If necessary, top up energy levels one to two hours before activity with a sports bar, fruit, cereal bar or yogurt.

During exercise:

• Try to drink every 15 to 20 minutes during exercise (water or a sports drink).

• If you are doing a prolonged event, you may want to snack on granola or cereal bars.

After exercise:

• Start with a smoothy (for example, blend milk, fruit and ice), sport drink, chocolate milk or water.

• Then have a meal rich in carbs and protein, such as chicken with rice and vegetables, pasta with meat sauce and salad, or vegetarian chili with potato and raw vegetables.

 
 
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