Energy Dilemma – Replacing Energy Drinks
Health Canada has approved more than a dozen “energy shot” drinks into the marketplace. With the ever increasing concern over caffeine and sugar levels they contain, parents and athlete are looking at replacing energy drinks with safer alternatives.
Using Red Bull, Monster or any of the other types of energy drinks available can be dangerous and even deadly to your health. But what else can you use to be safe and still get the energy you need to compete and train? The key times when they are most sought after is right before a training session and in the middle of a long tournament when digesting a full meal may not be possible.
Believe it or not, there are over 600 energy drink options for you right now in stores. They will boost performance without a doubt and that is not in question. But they will also shrink your pocketbook at pretty high prices as well.
The stimulant they use is caffeine and it is technically a drug with addictive properties. Using it regularly will cause your body to need more overtime to get the same effect. It will increase heart rate and anxiety and when taken later in the day, can cause insomnia. Lack of sleep will have a negative effect on performance or it is counter-productive for athletes.
Carbohydrates in energy drinks in the form of sugar provide energy but it is short lived because it enters and leaves the blood stream very quickly. Eating the right type of carbohydrates is necessary for optimum performance and sugar is definitely not it.
Energy drinks do not have nutritional value with the exception of vitamin B but your body gets enough of it in a normal diet so the amount in the drinks is unnecessary. Essentially, replacing energy drinks with food is the real answer to the problem as it will supply the real nutrition needed. Feed your body the fuel it needs and you will perform at your best.
Eat a nutrient rich diet which includes:
- lean protein like chicken and fish or lean red meat
- whole grains as a carbohydrate source like oats, whole grain breads and pastas
- fruits and vegetables – fresh or even canned/frozen
- healthy fats from olive oil, avocado or egg yolks
These may not all be practical for tournament days but they should be a part of your regular diet plans.
Easy to carry foods to eat during long days at a sporting event include:
- fresh or dried fruit like purchased or homemade trail mix (dried fruit and raw nuts)
- cheese sticks
- peanut butter with jelly on whole wheat bread
- peanut butter and banana with whole wheat crackers
- turkey sandwich on whole grain bread
The general rule is to eat quality carbohydrates and lean protein throughout the day. A proper diet will give you the energy you need so replacing energy drinks will not be that difficult.
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