Mental Edge

Energy Drinks and eSports: How Healthy is the Mix?

The first thing you can associate with a professional athletic event is high pressure. And with eSports the athletes can tell you all about the pressure. It’s currently the fastest growing spectator sport in the world, and brands like Red Bull are heavily invested in making it much bigger. The prizes are huge, the fame is more than just a little tempting, and the competition is fierce.

And once you reach the top percentage of athletes who compete at the highest levels, you want to stay there.

Introducing the energy drink, a beverage spiked with enough sugar and caffeine to get your heart racing and your concentration intact. Or at least, that’s what it feels like to the person consuming it. For a beverage that is consistently growing within its market, the research surrounding it is surprisingly vague. Not too many studies on these popular drinks have been done so far, and the results all seem to clash on some level or another. However, there are some facts that stick.

 

Starting with the Facts

 

One of the easiest debates you can start in the gym or in a bar is by asking whether energy drinks are good or bad for you. The truth of the matter is they are relatively harmless, if consumed in moderation. On average, one drink can consist of between 80 and 500 mg of caffeine. A regular cup of coffee contains about 100 mg. As for the sugar, they vary according to the different brands. But to give you an idea, a 250 ml Red Bull consists of 27.5 g of sugar.

 

Given that caffeine is a stimulant, it’s not considered something that’s healthy. This means if used in moderation it can give you an energy boost, but it can get dangerous when it’s all you drink all day long. About 10 minutes after having an energy drink the caffeine will kick in, and it should remain in your bloodstream for at least 5 to 6 hours.

 

The caffeine blocks the adenosine chemical (associated with how tired you feel), while the sugar overdose releases dopamine, which gives you that all-round happy feeling. However, after about an hour you should start feeling the sugar crash, followed by an energy slump and probably a very tired feeling.

 

Some studies show that energy drinks can improve concentration and memory, but many experts like to write this “sense” of improvement off as simply feeling happy.

 

Other Typical Ingredients

 

Energy drinks will also usually contain:

Taurine – An amino acid the body naturally produces to regulate heartbeat and energy levels.

B-vitamins – Typically helps the body turn food into energy, although it’s not proven to work with energy drinks.

Ginseng – Better known as a medical herb that is supposed to hold energy increasing properties.

L-Carnitine – Also an amino acid naturally created by the body to increase energy and boost metabolism.

 

Long Term Use for eSport Athletes

 

Athletes are becoming more conscious about their health in the professional eSports arena. Seeing as their choice of sport doesn’t see them flexing a lot of muscles, the long term effects are a genuine concern. And when you think about it, how many of them woke up and thought they’d become a professional eSport athlete? What started as a cool hobby among fellow athletes over the weekend turned into three days without sleep, and an energy drink overdose to keep the competition going. Did any of them really anticipate playing in front of millions of fans?

 

There have been isolated negative incidents where energy drinks were involved, but for the most part you can choose your poison without being too concerned. As long you as don’t use it as a source of hydration and allow enough time to pass between every drink, nothing is stopping you from getting that edge.

 

The amount of time you’ll feel on top of the world after an energy drink is about an hour, depending on how well you handle your caffeine and sugar. The more you drink, the less stimulated you’ll begin to feel.

 

Alternatives to Energy Drinks

 

For those of you who are leaning towards the negative side of energy drinks, or if you just want something to substitute it with on occasion, here are a few alternatives you can use that don’t involve a sugar crash or hitting an energy slump.

 

Water

 

A clean glass of water is the healthiest drink in the world. With dehydration comes fatigue, which explains why drinking loads of water is good for you. All the metabolic reactions in your body are done with water, and the less water there is, the slower the reactions are going to be. Water also carries oxygen to the brain, which naturally boosts concentration and memory.

 

Green Tea

 

There’s a good reason why these suggestions aren’t really popular, and it’s because they don’t always taste particularly pleasant. Green tea is just one of the bad tasting alternatives you can use, although the effects aren’t going to be so obvious.

 

Protein Shake

 

By mixing a quality protein powder with carbohydrates, such as fruit and wheat germ, you can level the nutritional level your body needs to fight fatigue.

 

Green Smoothies

 

Parsley and spinach might not be your favorite food, but as a green smoothie or juice it can have you feeling energized all day long. Thanks to all the B-vitamins inside them, it gives your

metabolism a boost, leading to more energy. However, it’s best to combine it with a solid diet that covers crucial vitamins and nutrients.

 

Some Final Thoughts

If you like your energy drink and you can balance the intake, nothing should be stopping you from using it. But know there are alternatives that aren’t based on massive loads of caffeine and sugar.