Sports drinks were originally developed for athletes, with the aim to maintain their performance through a long workout or game. It is used to make them feel refreshed and energized. Sports drinks are used to replace the water, electrolyte such as sodium, potassium, and carbohydrate, which is lost during any game or workout. The latest trend observed in the U.S. sports drinks market is amino acid and protein drink. Amino acid based sports drink has gained popularity, as apart from keeping energized and refreshed, it reduces muscle soreness and enhances muscle building. Protein-based sports drink are used for muscle building.
Beverages play an important role in maintaining hydration in the human body. In North America, sports and energy drinks become the necessary beverage during summer. Apart from athletes, these drinks have garnered huge attention among teenagers as well as adults in the U.S. With the availability of various flavors, these drinks are the preferred choice to keep oneself hydrated. Along with keeping oneself hydrated, energy drinks also fulfill the daily need for vitamins.
It has also been observed that in the U.S., the overall beverages demand is growing significantly, whereas the carbonated soft drinks market has witnessed a slight contraction. Consumers are becoming more health conscious and switching from sugary carbonated drinks to healthy substitutes such as sports drinks, energy drinks, green tea, and others.The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) conducted a survey among college athletes in the U.S. regarding the consumption of energy drinks. According to that research, 44.5% of athletes reported that they had consumed energy drinks in college.
Table: Energy Drinks Used by College Athletes:
Caffeine: Useful or Harmful? The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends choosing a beverage that is calorie free or contains beneficial nutrients. Energy drinks are sold in two kinds of packaging such as one in normal soft drink size container and other as energy shots. These energy shots are used for instant energy and are concentrated liquid. Caffeine is the major ingredient of these energy shots.
Caffeine is added to sports and energy drinks due to numerous health benefits such as it induces alertness, enhances long-term memory, improves attention span, boosts the performance of an athlete, and helps relieve headaches. Apart from alertness, it is also used to prevent Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. However, a high dosage of caffeine can cause anxiety, insomnia, and high blood pressure. Along with caffeine, various vitamins are also added in energy and sports drink such as vitamin B12, vitamin B6, and others. According to Canada Natural Health Products (NHP) Regulations, the major ingredients and levels typically found in the products that were in the queue for consideration to be licensed as an NHP are mentioned in the following table.
Table: Major Components of Energy Drinks
Caffeine is the most widely used psychoactive drug. It occurs in nature as well as synthetic form. Naturally, caffeine is present in tea and coffee. Apart from natural caffeine, synthetic caffeine is also available in the market. Synthetic caffeine is produced in factories, is absorbed faster by the digestive system, and causes a quicker spike.
One of the most prominent issues associated with the intake of caffeine is its addictive nature. This addiction can range from mild to severe and in most cases it does not impact the healthy lifestyle. According to recent research, various side effects are associated with the consumption of energy drinks. Some common symptoms are palpitations, shaking, agitation, gastrointestinal upset, chest pain, dizziness, insomnia, respiratory distress, and headaches. Caffeine is the most common energy drink ingredient and its tolerance varies between individuals. Generally, a dose of over 400mg/day may cause some restlessness and increased heartbeat. The Center for Food Safety Adverse Event Reporting System (CAERS) has registered over 140 complaints about adverse side effects from 5 Hour Energy, Monster, and Rockstar over the last 10 years. During 2007–2011, the number of energy drink-related visits to emergency departments doubled. In 2011, 1 out of 10 of these visits resulted in hospitalization.
Despite all these side effects, the energy and sports drink market is growing continuously. It has gained attention due to extreme promotion during sports events such as BMX racing, wakeboarding, mountain biking, surfing, snowboarding, and downhill skiing.
Furthermore, in Canada “Health Canada” organization recommends that children and teenagers should not consume energy drinks. It suggests that the best way to improve energy among children and teenagers is to give them a balanced diet. Along with this, they should get enough sleep to keep themselves energized. These energy drinks generally contain little sugar along with various nutritious ingredients and are rich in calories. However, when consumed in high quantity, it may lead to weight gain or dental problems. In North America, governments have taken certain initiatives to reduce the intake of energy and sports drink.
Various carbonated soft drinks brands have invested in energy and sports drink to capture the large market share. For example, Coca Cola is planning to add its first energy drink soon. The company is planning to add Coca-Cola Energy and Coca-Cola Energy No Sugar to its portfolio and plans to include caffeine from naturally-derived sources and Guarana extract. Major players of the market are Red Bull, Rockstar, and Monster. Increasing investments in energy and sports drink will give rise to high competition, which will further add to its affordability. It will be interesting to see how the developments in energy and sports drink alter the beverages choices of North Americans and further make a global impact.