Sunday, November 11, 2007

Got Energy?


We all know the benefits of exercise, but on a broader level we all simply just want to feel good at the end of a martial arts session. Exercise of any kind is touted to give us more energy, yet a market exists that includes a large variety of "energy" (i.e. caffeinated) drinks. Hype, Kick And Reload are names of just a few of the products available. The industry leader, Red Bull, sold more than 3 billion cans worldwide in 2006. So caffeine has become the socially acceptable drug of choice for the masses. A recent report has shown that that an unprecedented 57% of American adults drink coffee on a daily basis. Years ago I downed a rather large serving of iced coffee en route to a morning aikido class to get me started after working an all-nighter. Big mistake. Chilled Mocha Joe on an empty stomach combined with an hour of forward and backward rolls is ill advised. To live is to learn.

Stimulants that are plant or herbal based generally have distinct Eastern origins. Ginseng and ma huang (ephedra) have been in use in Asia for millennia. Caffeine, though a reliable shot-in-the-arm, pales in comparison to the longer lasting and explosive power of ephedrine (ma huang's chemical derivative) which was legally obtainable in both capsule and drinkable form until 2004. Originally created to treat allergies and narcolepsy, ephedrine was eventually re-marketed as a thermogenic (fat burning) sports supplement/performance enhancer that quickly became a recreational cheap thrill. It was finally banned by the FDA after a number of deaths were attributed to its use.

With the immense popularity of the Starbucks coffee house chain comes Kick Butt Coffee, a martial arts themed coffee shop slated to open in Texas this December. Severs will wear kung fu garb and the beverages will have appropriately inspired names. I'll take the Flying Sidekick Latte, please. But never before my karate class, thank you.

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14 Comments:

Blogger Rick said...

Check out this NY Times photojournalist's photo essay on a tea house in Hang Zhou.

http://www.nytimes.com/packages/html/travel/20060702_TEAHOUSE_FEATURE/blocker.html

8:01 AM  
Blogger Miss Chris said...

Energy drinks = cheap thrills is right. Just a bunch of fake energy wth a huge crash on the horizon.

12:58 PM  
Blogger Charles James said...

Hi, All

There was an article on google news and in the San Fran Chron on energy drinks.

Apparently we are consuming way to much in to short a time as it has a negative effect on blood pressure as well as the heart.

1:50 PM  
Blogger John Vesia said...

Rick:

Ok, I finally got that link open. Very interesting pouring techniques at that place. Thanks again for the info. (Here's Rick's link again to the Hang Zhou tea house. It's worth checking out.)
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Miss Chris:

You can definitely crash on those things. And with Red Bull's 3 billion can sales I'm wondering if they put something addictive (besides caffeine) in those things.
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Charles:

Apparently we are consuming way to much in to short a time as it has a negative effect on blood pressure as well as the heart.

This was the effect of ephedrine on athletes and others. Anything that compromises the heart or central nervous system, including caffeine, eventually becomes detrimental to the health.

6:14 PM  
Anonymous Black Belt Mama said...

How do you find this stuff???

Funny that you write this now. I just had someone send me an energy drink that is asian based with no caffeine. It's supposed to give you energy without all the nasty chemicals and side effects. Still doing my research on it, but it doesn't taste terrible. I just wish it would help me grow a new acl. ;-)

8:08 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Most of the energy drinks out there have less caffeine than the average cup of coffee, by almost a full third by volume. 8 oz of medium roast coffee weighs in at an average of about 110mg of caffeine while most energy drinks are at about 80mg per 8 oz can.

For what it's worth, the "energy" doesn't simply equate to caffeine. Most contain some combination of caffeine derived from guarana or yerba mate (a tea-like drink popular in Brazil) as well as a serious jolt of b vitamins, ginseng, and taurine, as well as other exotic sounding "metabolic stimulants" or "detoxifying agents."

My personal opinion is that there is no free ride and no better way to get energy than a good night's sleep. Just because something is of "Eastern" origin or sans-caffeine doesn't make it healthy. It ignores the possibility that the caffeine substitute is ALSO unhealthy, particularly in large doses. It's like saying that McD's french fries are good for me now because they have zero trans-fats.

10:50 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

My idea of an energy drink is a Jaegerbomb.

12:28 PM  
Blogger John Vesia said...

BBM:

I just had someone send me an energy drink that is asian based with no caffeine.

Just what you need right now, an energy drink while you're on crutches. When you're done with your research send some of this stuff over for me to check out!
; )
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Steve:

Most of the energy drinks out there have less caffeine than the average cup of coffee, by almost a full third by volume. 8 oz of medium roast coffee weighs in at an average of about 110mg of caffeine while most energy drinks are at about 80mg per 8 oz can. For what it's worth, the "energy" doesn't simply equate to caffeine.


I've seen some bodybuiding drinks (as opposed to the "energy" variety) that contain 200 mg. of caffeine. That's a lot. I drink Red Bull (the sugree-free kind, I'm very health conscious) and I'm aware it supposedly contains less caffeine than a cup of coffee. Yet its effects are undeniable.

It ignores the possibility that the caffeine substitute is ALSO unhealthy, particularly in large doses.

Pat Parker (Mokuren Dojo) just wrote a post on the death of Duk Koo Kim, the Korean boxer who died as a result of injuries sustained in a title fight in the 80s. Kim was reported to have ingested huge amounts of ginseng prior to the bout. Granted, he took a wicked beating, but it is possible that all that ginseng may have contributed to an abnormal response to head shots (i.e. brain hemorrhaging) than would have normally resulted. Just a theory.
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Rick:

My idea of an energy drink is a Jaegerbomb.

Caffeine and liquor. Sounds more like a speedball!

12:59 PM  
Blogger frotoe said...

I can't stand energy drinks. Not only for all the reasons listed here, but they just taste NASTY! Its all a bunch of hype anyway. All about the $$$$$.

6:42 AM  
Blogger John Vesia said...

Frotoe:

but they just taste NASTY!

Some of them are. It's an acquired taste. They are expensive, though.

11:33 AM  
Blogger Silverstar said...

I'm not a big fan of energy drinks or excessive caffeine. (2 cups of coffee/day is more than enough for me) Too much is very bad for you and messes with your natural sleep cycle.

2:22 PM  
Blogger supergroup7 said...

Nuh Un.. I stay away from Caffeine. I found that it has so many negative side effects on my body that I'd rather not go through that anymore thank you. When I want a quick energy boost, I just turn to one of those fruit/veggie juice combinations. I found that within a few minutes I feel 100 percent. It might be a mental thing, but I feel more awake, and ready.

9:11 AM  
Blogger [Mat] said...

Thanks for the wishes.
It went ok, I guess. I posted a video of the kata. I need to train!

We had an article against those energy drinks a year ago in our association's journal.

They dehydrate you. Yuck!

12:16 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Just as an addendum, I've stumbled across an energy drink that I kind of like. It tastes like orange soda (if you like that sort of thing). It's Sobe Essential Energy (Orange Flavor).

While it definitely has a lot of sugar, from looking at the ingredients, most of it is from fruit juice. It's also got a jolt of caffiene, to the tune of about 96 mg per 16 oz can (about the same as a cup of coffee), and a jolt of B6, B12, Vitamin C and Zinc.

I had one the other day and it didn't make me jittery, nor did I crash significantly. I still wouldn't drink too much of it, but the energy boost is similar to that I get after taking my vitamins in the morning.

12:19 PM  

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