Energy drinks may give an edge to young players

Consuming energy drinks during team sports could help young people perform better, according to a study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology by researchers at Edinburgh University.

Sports scientists found that 12-14 year olds can play for longer in team games when they drink an isotonic sports drink before and during games.

The measured the performance of 15 adolescents during exercise designed to simulate the physical demands of team games such as football, rugby and hockey showed for the first time that sports drinks helped the young people continue high intensity, stop-start activity for up to 24 per cent longer, compared to players who drank a non-carbohydrate placebo solution.

The study was conducted because there is increasing evidence of young people consuming commercially available energy drinks during team games and researchers wanted to assess their impact.

The findings showed that drinking a 6 per cent carbohydrate-electrolyte solution improved endurance capacity but did not make young people run faster during intermittent exercise in team sports.

The solution, similar to the make-up of an isotonic sports drink, contained carbohydrate, sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium, is said to enhance hydration, help prevent dehydration and provide a supply of energy to the body, thereby contributing to improved endurance capacity.

The researchers say the findings help to identify the importance of regular hydration and energy intake with a carbohydrate-electrolyte solution during games to replace fluids and provide energy in adolescent games players.

Dr John Sproule, Head of the Institute of Sport, Physical Education and Health Sciences of the University of Edinburgh’s Moray House School of Education who led the research, said: “The importance of hydration to improve performance during exercise for adults is well known.

“This research helps us further understand how adolescents respond to hydration and energy supply during exercise.

“The consumption of a carbohydrate-electrolyte solution was found to significantly enhance endurance capacity during simulated games play and this could contribute to improved performance in adolescents.”

This is the first study to explore the effect of a 6 per cent carbohydrate-electrolyte solution, on the performance of young people in team games.

Source:University of Edinburgh

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