Pre-Workout Caffeine and Energy Drinks May Be Detrimental to Your Health

Medical Bag, an online medical journal, looked at the practice of consuming high quantities of caffeine containing energy drinks before exercising or entering a competition and its effects on your health and performance. They followed their review of the recommendations of the European Association of Preventive Cardiology and the World Health Organization positions against consuming these drinks prior to exercise.

It was noted that in addition to elevated levels of caffeine these drinks contain taurine and glucuronolactone which can have a negative effect as well.  The high doses of caffeine may alter your susceptibility to lethal cardiac arrythmias by prolonging your QTc interval on your EKG. They also adversely alter the function of your endothelial cells which line our blood vessels and prevent random clotting within these vessels. They cite a 2019 study by Shah et al which looked at 2 popular energy drinks consumed before vigorous exercise and compared to consumption of a placebo resulting in the energy drinks prolonging the QTc intervals. This may cause arrythmias in individuals with healthy hearts but is much more likely to cause them in individuals with non-diagnosed heart issues. The caffeine and additives also contribute routinely to elevation of your systolic and diastolic blood pressure with vigorous exercise.

The energy drinks have become popular in the USA based on small studies that hinted that caffeine enhances one’s performance. The small sample size and design of the studies did not warrant that conclusion.

Energy drinks are relatively unregulated in the United States and are treated as a food not a medication.  It is far safer to hydrate with water or an electrolyte rich sports drink than a highly caffeinated beverage prior to vigorous exercise or athletic competition.

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