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September 1, 2011
Energy-hit theory fizzes out
Caffeine-filled drinks may give you a hit, but the experts say they
are not the ideal fuel before working out. CFN Max Bree reports.
A SUGARY, caffeine-laced energy
drink is often a favourite of those
struggling with slow mornings or
sluggish afternoons, but now they
are becoming the fuel of choice
when getting ready for a big
weights training session.
While the drinks are becoming
more popular before a gym session,
experts are divided over how much
benefit they are giving.
Professor Jeff Coombes, an
authority in sports performance and
nutrition from the University of
Queensland, said the drinks could
help get people to the gym, but they
wouldn't offer much extra strength
"It's probably promoting the
behaviour associated with doing
exercise," Prof Coombes said.
"If someone's having it then
going to the gym, then that's what
we want them to do.
"There may be some increase in
stimulation but it's more of a boost
to the central nervous system."
CPL Doug Bentancor, a PTI
at 1st Health Support Battalion at
Sydney's Holsworthy Barracks, said
personnel should be careful of hav-
ing caffeinated drinks before cardio
"Caffeine causes a diuretic effect
that can lead to dehydration," he
"During intense cardio this could
put your body in a state where it can
lose too much fluid."
But CPL Bentancor said caffeine
before weights training was gener-
ally accepted with most over-the-
counter pre-workout supplements
having more caffeine than an aver-
age energy drink, such as Red Bull,
V or Mother.
"Caffeine is approved by the
Australian Institute of Sport for use
by athletes," he said.
"But when having energy drinks,
take into account that it's not just
caffeine -- you're getting undesira-
bles like sugar."
Prof Coombes sees this use of
energy drinks the same as other
workout supplements, where the
benefits can be restricted to what
"In studies, if you give athletes
a supplement that has no effects but
tell them it's the greatest thing since
sliced bread, they believe it," he
With workout supplement ingre-
dients being largely unregulated
and not independently tested, Prof
Coombes encouraged people to be
careful when using them.
Also, Prof Coombes said the
financial cost of supplements had a
flow-on effect during training.
"You are associating your work-
out with the amount of money you
spend on it," he said.
For CPL Bentancor, the simple
fuels for training remain the best
"At the end of the day there is no
better substitute than food," he said.
He advised gym-goers to eat
carbohydrates 30 minutes to one
hour before training to give the
"Having energy drinks before
training is just hype. But having
proper nutrition, you can't beat that,"
NOT THE BEST BOOST:
Consuming an energy
drink before working out
can lead to dehydration.
Photo: LAC Bill Solomou
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