Energy Drink Misinformation

11 09 2011

Zero calorie ‘energy’ drinks piss me off. Why?

A zero calorie energy drink is a flat-out contradiction. 

Think about it. What is a calorie? If you don’t know, look it up. Yes, exactly, it is a measure of… energy content! WTF?

What I want to know is this: how come we let big business redefine our language to their own greedy ends? I mean the people who make low-calorie energy drinks know they have no energy in them, so why are they called energy drinks?

I think its because energy is a misunderstood concept and they are taking advantage of this.

Understanding what energy is (and more importantly isn’t) will allow people to more accurately decide things correctly – like whether it’s a good idea to try hike 100 miles across a desert armed only with zero calorie energy drinks.

So for background, please take a look at my article on energy designed for people with too little time to read a whole book, or even a pamplet.

Now, the specific issue here is that people are confusing energy sources with stimulants. Sure, the sugary versions do actually supply some energy, but no more than a can of Coke – but these guys are not charging those absurd prices for sugar – those prices, and claims, are for the drugs. Compounds like caffeine affect our nervous system and interfere with our built-in protection systems, systems that make us feel tired after effort, mechanisms that force us to get the sleep we need in order to rest our muscles and reboot our brains.

The issue here is that the word stimulant is not as easy to sell as ‘energy’, and the English language does allow us to mix up feeling ‘energetic’ with feeling alert and ready for action.  The nerdy scientific truth issue here is that tired people actually still actually have plenty of energy (especially if they are prosperous about the middle) it is just their inclination to use that energy that changes.

So next time you feel tired but need to keep going, by all means get a ‘so-called’ energy drink but remember it is mainly just a drug. The next time you hit a wall 20 miles into a marathon, remember to get some real energy.

 

 

Postscript

So is messing with you body’s tiredness systems bad? Not necessarily! We must also resist overreacting and committing another crime – resorting to the naturalistic fallacy that messing with nature is fundamentally a bad idea. I quite like it when medical science messes with natural things like smallpox and malaria for example. Stimulants are not all bad, keeping alert can keep us safe when driving, and used in moderation can actually help us focus through tedious study or exams.
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3 responses

20 05 2012
Joseph Said

This is the same with many other food stuff where the labeling is so deceptive and misleading that people generally do not give them a second thought. Products labelled as ‘organic’ or ‘MSG FREE are some of the worst – they fool the health-conscious people into believing they hue made a better choice when its usually the opposite.

Its a frightening thing when our people are lulled into believing all the nonsense these corporations feed them. Its good to be free of their mind-poisoning!
Thanks for this post:-)

12 03 2013
Anonymous

I’m not sure whether to agree or disagree with this article. Yes I agree ultimately sugar (more specifically) glucose is the ultimate molecule carrying the chemical energy our body converts to mechanical energy allowing us to run a marathon. As such, a zero calorie energy drink is indeed a flat out contradiction. However, the energy drink may (I don’t know the exact formulation of such a drink) bring to your organism the necessary catalyst to increase the release of stored energy. I’m thinking specifically of triglyceride for example, which help in the transfer process of blood glucose and fat from and to the liver. So if you increase your intake of such catalyst, you can increase the liberation of glucose in your blood stream and therefore the available reserve of directly usable energy (in the form of glucose) in your blood. So yes the drink is more of a stimulant in that it does not bring more energy per se, but in the end does allow your body to use more of its own energy in a short amount of time. But you are depleting your own reserve : the drink does not replenish it (unless you drink a “fast” sugar drink, but then you seriously start messing with your metabolism…)

I completely agree on the deliberate misleading label “energy drink”. What you’re drinking is NOT bringing you energy ! It’s just an accelerator and if you kept on drinking this stuff continuously, you’d just fall from exhaustion…

26 07 2013
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