Following the article focussed on sports drinks, let's now take a look at the different characteristics of energy drinks, their place in the sports world, and the legislation that applies to them.
What's the difference between sports drinks and energy drinks?
Sports drinks comply with the French dietary sports product regulations (20 July 1977). They are designed to meet sports players' needs during intense muscular effort.
Energy drinks contain molecules designed to provide an energy boost, but they aren't recommended for use during sports activities.
Here are the different marketing target audiences for these two types of drink: Sports drinks are targeted at sports players, whereas energy drinks are targeted at young people, with very active lives and party-goers.
What is an energy drink?
The term "energy drink" was chosen by the soft drink industry with the aim of backing up marketing strategies and highlighting the stimulant properties of these drinks.
Energy drinks differ from sports drinks in terms of their ingredients. However, there is still a lot of confusion among consumers. Moreover, there is no consensus among regulatory organisations concerning the definition of these energy drinks and the terminology associated with them.
Energy drinks are mainly made up of sugar and more often than not, of a large variety of stimulant ingredients. The main active ingredient is caffeine. It can be paired with vitamin B, taurine, glucuronolactone, inositol, carnitine or creatine. Certain plants reputed to have stimulating properties are also added, such as guarana, ginseng or sometimes ginkgo biloba.
Are energy drinks and sport compatible?
Energy drinks have not been formulated to meet sports players' needs during physical activity. They are designed to provide physical and mental stimulation. They contain caffeine and the amount of sugar in them is much higher than in sports drinks.
The amount of caffeine in energy drinks is between 50 and 350mg per can, and the amount needed to have an effect on the body is between 100 and 160mg. For energy drinks that offer a stimulant effect in association with their energising properties, the amount of caffeine falls into the latter category.
The maximum recommended amount of caffeine is 200mg/day, an amount that is easily surpassed with an excessive consumption of energy drinks and that can lead to a dangerous level of caffeine intake.
Caffeine is a diuretic substance, and therefore increases water loss and the elimination of sodium, magnesium, calcium and chlorine through urination. In excessive quantities it can lead to dehydration, which is precisely what sports players need to try to avoid during physical activity.
Moreover, energy drinks do not contain any sodium. Losses of this mineral that are not replenished can lead to hyponatremia during prolonged physical activity, with cardiovascular and/or neurological problems as a result.
In France, energy drinks are banned in schools
The Health and Sports Department advises the following precautions.