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SF 0017: Energy Drinks….Good or Bad?

Energy Drinks….Good or Bad?

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The Question:

My athlete really likes energy drinks. Is this OK for them to have?

The Answer:

Hey there! Welcome back to the Stay Fueled Podcast! My name is Dr. Joshua Eldridge, the founder of Stay Fueled, and we are up to Episode #17. That’s amazing! We’ve already done 17 episodes with our podcast for Stay Fueled, and I’m excited to be here for you. Today’s question from our parent comes from Robyn. And what Robyn says is “My athlete really likes energy drinks. Is this okay for them to have?”

Let me tell you a little story about energy drinks. I don’t know if many of you guys know this, but I have been deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan. I worked with military intelligence while I was in the military, but when I was in Iraq, I got to volunteer on a weekly basis at one of our troop medical clinics. They invited me in because they knew my background and they wanted me to help out. I got to see this young athlete, or, well, he wasn’t an athlete. He’s one of our ultimate athletes. But this young soldier came in and he had back pain and the physicians and the PAs didn’t really know why he was having it so they sent him over to me and they said, “Hey! What’s going on with this young athlete?” And I examined him and did all the tests on him to try to figure out what was going on and I couldn’t find anything that was wrong with him as far as his back or his musculoskeletal system, so I sent him back to the PA at that time and I said, “Hey! There’s nothing wrong with this guy as far as musculoskeletal.” And I said, “All right. Well, here’s some Ibuprofen and come back next week and see what we can do.”

So halfway through the week, about Wednesday, it just hit me in my head. I think I woke up at like 2:00 AM with this kid on my mind and I was like, “Oh, that’s what’s wrong with him. He’s dehydrated!” So I went back that next week. He came in to see us. I actually went back the next day to the clinic and said, “Hey! Get this guy back in here as soon as possible.

And so, they got him back in and it was like the next Saturday. And I was talking to him when I said, “Hey! How much water are you drinking every day?” We’re in the middle of Baghdad. It’s about 135 degrees out. And he looks at me and he says, “What are you talking about how much water am I drinking?” “Yeah. How much water are you taking in every day?” He’s like, “Well, I don’t really drink any water.” I’m like, “You’re going out on patrols every day and you’re not drinking any water? What are you drinking?” “Well, I’m drinking Red Bulls.” “Red Bulls?! How many Red Bulls are you drinking every day?” He’s like, “I’m having about 15 or 16 a day.” I was like, “Oh my goodness! This poor kid’s blood is sludged!” So he’s drinking 15, 16 Red Bulls every day and not getting any water.

Now, that is an extreme case. The first thing I told this kid to do was get water now and start drinking water. You got to cut back on those energy drinks. The poor kid had to have enough energy though to go out and be able to protect himself. So I completely understand that.

Now some of your athletes are experiencing that, on a smaller level, I hope. I hope none of your athletes are drinking 15 or 16 Red Bulls a day. But at the same time, they’re experiencing this where they feel like when they take the Red Bull, they’re getting up for their practice. The caffeine and that energy found in there is getting them ready for that day’s practice. And there’s more than Red Bull. There’s Monster and there’s all the other ones. Rockstar. But it’s not the optimal for your young athlete and it’s not the optimal if they’re replacing great nutrition and rest and relaxation and sleep in order to prepare for their athletic event.

So if they’re having that because they didn’t sleep at all the night before, now you’re looking at a very dangerous situation. The same thing that happened with one of my gymnasts here, was for breakfast before a meet, she ended up having a Red Bull and a donut. That was her breakfast before a gymnastics meet and one of our biggest meets. I mean, you already know what happened. It’s kind of like a train wreck, you see it coming. But she got injured during the meet and a pretty good knee injury and was out. And that pretty much ended her gymnastics career.

So we got to think about things like this that obviously isn’t a pre-workout snack that we can take and see any good come out of. We have to eat properly because the body responds to great nutrition. So we have to give our athletes great nutrition and encourage this. And then our older athletes, we just need to talk about, “Hey! If you want to be the best you can be on the court, on the field, in the gym, then you have to be able to take these things into your diet.

And that’s one of the reasons why we did that three-part on recovery, so that you and your athlete could sit down and watch what’s most important for bodies to recover and have great performance.

So if you need that, make sure you head over to our site to and sign up for our email newsletter. That’s going to automatically be sent to you and you’re going to get that three-part series on recovery so that you can protect your athletes through nutrition because that’s one of the biggest parts of recovery. We’re also going to talk about other parts of recovery as well.

The other thing, if you have a question just like Robyn did, Robyn’s question was about energy drinks. So yours might be about something else. Feel free to ask anything you want of us at Stay Fueled. And me, I’m here as a resource for you. Just head over to our site. On the right hand side, there’s a place where you can leave a voicemail. I’m excited to get that from you and I will answer it the best I can, or if I can’t answer it, I’ll get you to the right resource so you can have the information you need to protect your athlete through nutrition.

Thank you so much for joining us. I’m excited you are here today. I kind of shared a personal story. I usually don’t do that too often, but once in a while we’ll throw that in so that you guys can understand where I’m coming from and the information I’m sharing with you.

Thanks again for joining us. My name is Dr. Joshua Eldridge. And you’ve been listening to the Stay Fueled Podcast. Have an awesome day! We’ll see you next time..