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Energy Drinks Improve Performance But Come With Adverse Side Effects

A recent study found that drinking energy drinks may improve athletic performance by as much as 7%. It also found, however, that it increases insomnia, nervousness, and level of stimulation after a competition.

Participants in the study included 90 experienced athletes who normally did not consume much caffeine. They drank either 3 mg/kg of caffeine in an energy drink or a placebo caffeine-free equivalent an hour before they completed a training session.

In order to record muscle performance, the researchers used a GPS system to track speed, distance, dynamometers, and potentiometers (which measure force). All of the participants also filled out a questionnaire to measure self-perceived muscle power.

At the conclusion of the study, the researchers found that the recorded performance for the energy drink group had improved by 3%-7%. Specifically, runners ran further and at higher intensities; basketball players jumped higher; climbers had increased muscle force and power; swimming speed increased for sprinter swimmer; force and accuracy was higher for volleyball players; and tennis players scored more points.

Results from the questionnaire also found that the energy drink group felt stronger, more powerful, and had higher resistance when compared with the placebo group.

The researchers also found, however, that the energy drink group had higher rates of insomnia, nervousness, and level of stimulation when compared with the placebo.

Researchers from Camilo José Cela University in Madrid conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on September 12, 2014, in the British Journal of Nutrition.

There are natural alternatives to energy drinks. Previous studies have shown that goji berry juice, green tea, yerba mate tea, and even vitamin D or a multivitamin supplement can help increase your energy.

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