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Do the Noncaffeine Ingredients of Energy Drinks Affect Metabolic Responses to Heavy Exercise?

Pettitt, Robert W.; Niemeyer, JoLynne D.; Sexton, Patrick J.; Lipetzky, Amanda; Murray, Steven R.

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: July 2013 - Volume 27 - Issue 7 - p 1994–1999
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3182736e31
Original Research

Pettitt, RW, Niemeyer, JD, Sexton, PJ, Lipetzky, A, and Murray, SR. Do the noncaffeine ingredients of energy drinks affect metabolic responses to heavy exercise? J Strength Cond Res 27(7): 1994–1999, 2013—Energy drinks (EDs) such as Red Bull (RB) are marketed to enhance metabolism. Secondary ingredients of EDs (e.g., taurine) have been purported to improve time trial performance; however, little research exists on how such secondary ingredients affect aerobic metabolism during heavy exercise. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of the secondary ingredients of RB on aerobic metabolism during and subsequent to heavy exercise. In double-blind, counterbalanced, and crossover fashion, 8 recreationally trained individuals completed a graded exercise test to determine the gas exchange threshold (GET). Subjects returned on 2 separate occasions and ingested either a 245 ml serving of RB or a control (CTRL) drink with the equivalent caffeine before engaging in two 10-minute constant-load cycling bouts, at an intensity equivalent to GET, with 3 minutes of rest between bouts. Accumulated liters of O2 (10 minutes) were higher for the first bout (17.1 ± 3.5 L) vs. the second bout (16.7 ± 3.5 L) but did not differ between drinks. Similarly, excess postexercise oxygen consumption was higher after the initial bout (RB mean, 2.6 ± 0.85 L; CTRL mean, 2.9 ± 0.90 L) vs. the second bout (RB mean, 1.5 ± 0.85 L; CTRL mean, 1.9 ± 0.87 L) but did not differ between drinks. No differences occurred between drinks for measures of heart rate or rating of perceived exertion. These results indicate that the secondary ingredients contained in a single serving of RB do not augment aerobic metabolism during or subsequent to heavy exercise.

Department of Human Performance, Minnesota State University, Mankato, Minnesota

Address correspondence to Robert W. Pettitt,

Copyright © 2013 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.