Caffeine, Creatine And Energy Drinks. Is It Safe for Athletes?

Information on caffein, energy drinks and creation for athletes. Source: WADA and IADO.

Jakarta, 30 January 2024

Before we discuss these three things (Caffeine, Creatine, and Energy Drinks) let’s examine what these three things mean. Caffeine is a natural chemical stimulant and belongs to the methylxanthines class of compounds and contains antioxidants. The chemical formula of caffeine is C8-H10-N4-O2 and is one of the most studied chemicals in food technology (Nimbhorkar et al., 2021). Creatine (Cr) is a ubiquitous molecule that is synthesized primarily in the liver, kidneys, and pancreas. Most of the Cr pool is found in tissues with high energy requirements. Cr enters target cells through a specific symporter called the Na+/Cl- dependent Cr transporter (CRT) (Bonilla et al., 2021).

Furthermore, energy drinks are very easy to find in the nearest minimarket in addition to their refreshing taste, often athletes are tempted by the marketing of energy drinks especially when athletes want to try to get a quick source of energy. However, it is important to know that energy drinks are not necessarily a healthy, or even safe way to hydrate the body. Next question, are caffeine, creatine and energy drinks banned by WADA? Caffeine is permitted in sports regulated by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

Currently caffeine is on the WADA monitoring list which means it is not banned, but WADA is monitoring it in case it becomes an anti-doping issue in the future (WORLD ANTI-DOPING CODE, n.d.). What about creatine? Creatine is not banned. Although creatine can have a small effect on performance, the effect is not guaranteed, and a training program and diet based on nutritionist advice remains the most influential. Are energy drinks banned for athletes? Energy drinks can contain large amounts of caffeine or other ingredients that can be harmful, and many of these products avoid labelling laws, making it difficult to know exactly what is in energy drinks.

It was found that energy drinks can contain up to six times more caffeine than soda drinks, the higher the dose, the more likely you are to experience restlessness, suffer from insomnia, irregular or pounding heartbeat, sweating, nervousness or seizures. Further evidence of the risks of highly caffeinated energy drinks, occurred with Dakota Sailor, a young soccer player who had a seizure and stopped breathing after consuming two energy drinks (Five Things Parents Should Know about Energy Drinks | USADA, n.d.). However, it is very important for athletes to be pro-active in asking their doctor about the food and drinks they consume, so that they don’t make the wrong move by consuming something that can harm their body and career!

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