Why Train Hard Parkour Don’t Do Energy Drinks
Why Train Hard Parkour Don’t Do Energy Drinks
Recently, a new energy drink has come onto the market that is being advertised to the specific target market of those who train Parkour. This worried us at Train Hard Parkour, because it encourages people (especially impressionable children) to consume them under the auspices that it’s somehow part of Parkour culture or “the done thing”. Energy drinks are widely regarded as being generally geared towards teenage males and those in their 20s1. This is also the demographic that Parkour generally attracts, which makes it perfect for this new Parkour-styled energy drink to market itself.
Train Hard Parkour do not allow energy drinks of any description to be consumed at our Parkour sessions, and we hope to outline in this blog post some of the reasons behind this decision. We will focus on the main problems with energy drink consumption, however, there are many other deleterious effects that we do not have the time to explore.
Fight/Flight Response = Increased Risk-Taking
Now this point is due to the high amounts of caffeine found in these beverages. Caffeine increases energy metabolism in the brain but decreases cerebral blood flow2.
When the body is put in a stressful situation, such as a tiger leaping out at you, the sympathetic nervous system is activated. Once this “fight/flight” state has been initiated, many other changes in the body occur (click here for a full breakdown of the physiology of the stress response).
- All catabolic activities are increased (heart rate and blood pressure etc.), and all anabolic activities are decreased (sex glands, sex drive, digestion, growth hormone production, cellular immunity).
- The adrenals are stimulated and produce catecholamines (adrenaline/noradrenaline) and cortisol. These catecholamines act on the heart to increase cardiac output (so there can be a rapid delivery of stress response hormones).
- Catecholamines inhibit factual learning, working memory, and ability to focus attention at the hippocampus (you don’t need to be learning the French translations of common parkour movements whilst running from a tiger!)
- A part of the brain called the amygdala releases CRF (corticotropin-releasing factor), which activates another area called locus ceruleus which releases noradrenaline, acting on emotional centres and learning centres in the brain. This means areas for logical behaviour and short-term memory are inhibited and areas for instinctual behaviours are stimulated.
- “Stress sharpens the signal detection system at the cost of concentration” – Michael Meaney Ph.D.3
Now, all of these processes are an intelligent response to the stressful stimulus, from an evolutionary perspective. We need to survive the attack from the tiger however we can. The problem lies in the fact that the fight/flight response is triggered the same every time, regardless of the stimulus. In the context of this blog, the stressor causing the sympathetic dominance/fight-flight response is the energy drink itself. Caffeine can and does cause the fight/flight state to occur 4.
By creating this stressful environment for yourself via drinking energy drinks, and inhibiting your ability to think logically, you’re putting yourself into a more dangerous situation than necessary. And we wonder why there are so many injuries occurring at the parkour energy drink competitions… People cannot think properly when using these drinks. We believe at Train Hard, that it is necessary when training to be focussed, present in every movement, and to take calculated risks. If your ability to calculate those risks are impaired because you’ve taken a psychoactive drug (caffeine), then you’re more likely to become injured. Parkour is a discipline and it requires such in order to improve safely.
Couple all of this with the addictive qualities of caffeine, and the small price tag attached to a lot of these energy drinks, and you’ll get some alarming results. Many of the kids I’ve coached have come to a session only to opine, “But I just needed something to drink, and this energy drink was cheaper than water!”
Dehydration = Performance Loss
By the very nature of Parkour, you will lose a lot of water in the form of perspiration. This, in itself, can easily lead to a state of dehydration. Now, when consuming energy drinks that are rich in caffeine (a diuretic) at the same time, it’s easy to see how dehydration may occur more readily. If the energy drink in question contains guarana then you’re getting an even higher delivery of caffeine into the system, because guarana is rich in caffeine (its seeds have twice the amount of caffeine in than coffee beans!)5
Exercise performance is impaired when an individual is dehydrated by as little as 2% of body weight 6. Losses in excess of 5% of body weight can decrease the capacity for work by about 30% 7.
Keeping hydrated is vital to your ability to move and work, so it hardly seems worth decreasing your performance ability so you can drink a sugary, caffeinated drink.
Don’t be duped into believing that these energy drinks will enhance your performance with all their stimulants, vitamins etc. It’s simply not true. There is limited evidence that these energy drinks can significantly improve physical or mental performance 8.
Yeah, the cans look fancy, and the picture of a person doing a bad back somersault is enticing, but you’d be better off having a clear head whilst training, and staying hydrated with a couple of bottles of water. At all our sessions, we encourage participants to bring water with them for the duration of the session.
1. Valisno, J.O., 2014. Energy Drinks Targets The Boys. Available from: http://www.bworldonline.com/weekender/content.php?id=83382.
2. Nehlig, A., Daval, JL., and Debry, G. 1992. Caffeine and the central nervous system: mechanisms of action, biochemical, metabolic and psychostimulant effects. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/016501739290012B
3. Chestnut., J. 2004. The Innate Diet and Natural Hygiene.
4. Winston, A.P., Hardwick, E., and Jaberi, N. Neuropsychiatric effects of caffeine. Available at: http://apt.rcpsych.org/content/11/6/432.full
5. Bempong, D.K., Houghton, P.J., and Steadman, K. 1993. The Xanthine Content of Guarana and Its Preparations. Available from:http://informahealthcare.com/doi/abs/10.3109/13880209309082937
6. Jeukendrup, A.E., and Gleeson, M. 2004. Sports Nutrition: An Introduction to Energy Production and Performance. England: Human Kinetics Publishing.
7. Armstrong et al. 1985 [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/4033401]
7. Craig and Cummings 1966 [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/5934478]
7. Maughan 1991 [http://www.uni.edu/dolgener/Advanced_Sport_Nutrition/fluid_intake.pdf]
8. Scholey., A.B., and Kennedy D.O. Cognitive and physiological effects of an “energy drink”: an evaluation of the whole drink and of glucose, caffeine and herbal flavouring fractions. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 2004;176:320-30.