Sales of caffeinated energy drinks and shots saw double-digit growth in the past few years. Whereas the number of athletes who use energy drinks is unknown, the number of college athletes who report using energy drinks is about 45%. Caffeine in small doses (2–3 mg/kg per body weight) is an effective ergogenic aid, acting on the central nervous system to delay fatigue and increase alertness. Energy drinks claim to have other functional ingredients that enhance athletic performance, but research on energy drinks in athletes is scant and results equivocal. If there is a positive effect, it is the caffeine in energy drinks that provides a performance boost. This article reviews use and safety concerns of energy drinks, the role of caffeine on sports performance, and guidelines for use in athletes.
A sensible look at all the fuss about energy drinks
Christine Rosenbloom, PhD, RDN, CSSD, is professor emerita of nutrition at Georgia State University. She provides sports nutrition consultation services to athletes and sports teams and runs a consulting business, Chris Rosenbloom Food and Nutrition Services, LLC. She is editor-in-chief of the 2012 fifth edition of Sports Nutrition: A Manual for Professionals published by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and is the editor of the Academy’s Online Sports Nutrition Care Manual.
Part of this article was derived from a session at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Food, Nutrition and Conference Expo in October 2013 titled, “Do Energy Drinks Live Up to Their Hype?: A Look at Cognitive and Physical Effects” by Christine Rosenbloom and J. Mark Davis.
The author has declared that she is on the speaker’s bureau of Gatorade Sports Science Institute.
Correspondence: Christine Rosenbloom, PhD, RD, CSSD, 179 Honeysuckle Lane, Hartwell, GA 30643 ( firstname.lastname@example.org).