Definition: "An ergogenic aid is any substance or phenomenon that enhances performance "

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Some energy shots make cyclists a little faster

Energy shots, the concentrated energy drinks that you can buy not only in sports shops but also at petrol stations and supermarkets, can improve cyclists' performances a tiny bit. Some don't though: it depends on which energy shot you use, sports scientists at Montana State University in the US discovered.

The researchers got 14 recreational cyclists to do interval training for 120 minutes. The cyclists cycled for 13 minutes at 70 percent of their VO2max and then 2 minutes at 90 percent of their VO2max. At the end of the 120 minutes the cyclists had to cycle as fast as they could for six minutes.

The researchers repeated this protocol several times. On one occasion they gave the cyclists a light soft drink with no active ingredients [PL], on another occasion they gave them Body Glove Surge energy shot [CPC] and on yet another occasion 5 Hour Energy [CTN].

Some energy shots make cyclists a little faster Some energy shots make cyclists a little faster

Body Glove Surge
(PacificHealth Laboratories)

Per serving:
18 grams carbohydrates
3 grams protein
150 mg caffeine

5 Hour Energy
(Living Essentials)

Per serving:
205 mg caffeine
480 mg taurine
30 mg niacin

The cyclists drank half an energy shot half an hour before they started to cycle. After they'd cycled for an hour they drank a whole energy shot, and half an hour later another one.

When the cyclists had to cycle to exhaustion after doing 2 hours of interval training, the researchers discovered that the Body Glove Surge energy shot [CPC], which contained a combination of carbohydrates, proteins and caffeine, gave the cyclists significantly more power: they were able to cycle faster.

Some energy shots make cyclists a little faster

Some energy shots make cyclists a little faster

5 Hour Energy [CTN], the energy shot that contained no carbs or proteins, but caffeine, taurine and niacin, actually had a negative effect. The figure above shows that 5 Hour Energy raised the subjects' heart rate significantly during the interval training.

"The results of these studies indicate that the combination of carbohydrate, protein, and caffeine improves exercise performance and would be of benefit for individuals participating in moderate to intense exercise", the researchers concluded. "The caffeine-taurine-niacin combination may be problematic since the results of the present study indicate no performance improvement, either peripherally or centrally, when compared to a non-caloric placebo."

J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2014 Dec 10;11(1):56.

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