Why are 3 States are Sueing the makers of 5 Hour Energy

Between what energy drinks do and what they say they do lies a huge gap in scientific knowledge.  This lack of evidence is leading 3 states (Oregon, Washington, and Vermont — with more states expected to follow) to sue Living Essentials, the manufacturer of 5 Hour Energy.

Oregon’s original lawsuit has its basis in the idea that the company has violated Oregon’s Unlawful Trade Practices Act by making claims about the products that are “false, misleading and/or unsubstantiated by competent, reliable scientific evidence”.  Washington and Vermont filed similar suits on similar grounds.

Several claims are called to issue but the one I find most interesting is whether  any ingredient in the drink besides the caffeine is responsible for providing extra energy, focus, and alertness.  Caffeine has been found to provide these benefits, although to be more precise, caffeine has the ability to mask fatigue — not necessarily take it away.  But the role of 5 Hour Energy’s “unique combination of ingredients to boost energy” has yet to be determined to the satisfaction of the scientific community.

Hopefully, the suit will be a wake-up call to the American public who is spending $750 million dollars a year on energy drinks, making them the fastest growing segment of the $10 billion beverage market.  These products aren’t offering anything that couldn’t achieved given a healthy diet and enough sleep.

I think Fooducate said it best:

“Like many other processed products that are supposed to make us healthier, thinner, sexier, smarter, AND more alert, there is unfortunately not enough evidence to support their claimed benefits. These products are targeted at young people who don’t always exercise proper judgment. And at older people who are looking for a panacea that does not exist.”

Don’t let your performance rest on marketing claims made by those that can’t backup their claims with research.  There’s just no substitute for what a nutritious diet, plenty of water, and enough sleep can do.

Interested in learning more about the suit? Click here!



Fit for Life

We have this idea that once an athlete, always an athlete and those that played in college are, somehow, more highly evolved in the “fitness for life” world.  A new study out indicated this is just not the case.

The purpose of this study was to ”to equip student-athletes with solid foundations to maintain strong, healthy lifestyles long after their last competition.”  What the study found was that college athletes need help transitioning from sport-specific training, which is what they know well, to general/lifetime fitness programming.

It’s been my experience, many former student athletes need help in creating the mindset shift from the overarching goal of competition to one dominated by health.  We’ve talked about clarifying goals in the past (when your goal is to win, the strongest course of action may be something that puts you at greater risk of injury.  However, when your goal is lifetime health, given that same choice of actions, you would chose the option that brings you closer to health — which could mean choosing a rest day over a competition day).  College athletes are not trained to think this way –even Little League athletes, U12 soccer players, and other youth athletes are not trained to put their health first!

Perhaps this is worth giving some thought.  As parents, coaches, and even teammates, what skills are we teaching our athletes.  As athletes ourselves, once we are finished with high-level competition, what skills do we have to fall back on to keep us physically fit and healthy?  If you’re not sure how to make the transition from being coached to prepare for competition to self-coaching to maintain a lifetime of health, maybe it’s time to start investigating the differences in those training methods and skill sets.  You don’t want to be one of the 40% of former athletes the study found was not even meeting the ACSM guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per week!!

Ways to keep your shoes in good smelling shape

Shoes wear out quick enough – 300-500 miles happens faster than you might think!  So don’t let odor be the reason you avoid wearing your favorite pair of running shoes!

Here are a couple suggestions to fight the stink and create a healthy environment for your feet.

1. Remember that odor comes from bacteria.  Bacteria like damp, dark places to grow.  After your workout, make sure you untie and open up your shoes.  Pulling the tongue toward the toe to will open them even further.  This will let the air circulate as much as possible and get the shoe dry before your next workout.

2. Use deodorant on your feet.  I know it sounds kind of weird but why wouldn’t it work? Spray deodorant is easier to apply but if you choose to use the solid, just make sure you’re buying a stick EXCLUSIVELY for using on your feet.  This will keep them dry and reduce the rate of bacteria growth.

3. Make sure you have good socks.  Sock technology has come a long way!  Socks woven with silver threads actually do have antibacterial properties.  If your foot odor is bad, it may be worth investing in high tech socks.  If you don’t want to spend that kind of money, make sure you are changing your cotton socks often.  Every workout at a minimum! But on especially long and hot workout days (August is right around the corner!), you may want to change into fresh socks when you stop for a water break.

4. Tea bags, baby powder, baking soda, and Febreze are all options to deodorize your shoes after every workout.  Experiment and find the product you like the best.

5. Don’t be afraid to wash your fabric shoes — just don’t put them in the dryer!  Wash in warm water with detergent and some ammonia or Oxiclean.  If they are especially gross, you can let them soak.  Just remember: don’t dry them!  The high temps in the dryer (although another great way to kill bacteria) can cause the glue holding your shoes together to fail.  Just run them through the wash, open them up as discussed above, and let them air dry.

The summer is moving along and if you have been sweating in your shoes, it may be a great time to clean them up!  Both for your sake and the sake of your workout partner!


MCT – what is it? And…will it help you?

Medium chain triglycerides (MCT) oil has been popping up around the media (think Dr. Oz and the like) as a way to improve athletic performance.  MCT is touted to improve muscle gain and fat loss. But before you out to get yourself some, let’s look behind the curtain.

First, MCT is an oil not naturally found in this form. Made from coconut and palm kernel oils, which are solid at room temperature, this oil has gone through a process that removed some of the saturated fats from each molecule.  This changes its physical properties from the naturally occurring solid at room temperature to a liquid at room temperature.

One interesting fact about MCT’s, and part of the reason they have gained some attention, is they may be more readily absorbable than longer chain fats.  They are also easily converted into usable fuel for muscle and organ tissues.  This can mean they are less likely to be stored by the body as fat.

Be that as it may, MCT oil comes with a list of side effects ranging from the increased by-product production of ketones and creating an increased workload on the liver (where is it metabolized) to nausea and gastric discomfort.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that research has not come to a solid conclusion on whether the benefits of this supplement outweigh the risks.  It is a case of not enough research to make a determination…yet.

Studies are mixed on whether this type of oil will actually improve body composition and whether, in all cases, it is used efficiently as a fuel source.  And it is a fat — which means it packs a caloric punch.  Adding it to your diet without limiting calories somewhere else is likely to result in weight gain.

You may not want to fall for the hype.  Save your dollars — each nutritious food, train hard, rest well, and let your body do what it was designed to do.  MCT is not the miracle in the bottle some people are claiming.


A Video that explains how sugar effects the brain

With all the talk about sugar and its effects, here’s a short video to give you the basics on why too much too often can have negative effects on your brain!

Can’t see the video? Click here!

Failure — is it holding you back or pushing you forward?

A few weeks ago, I attended a commencement program.  While most speakers try to break out of the stereotypical commencement speech box, the speaker at this particular program went very far afield. His topic was failure and understanding how it can affect you.

His assertion: it’s not whether your succeed or fail at a particular task that is the ultimate test, it is the ability to handle failure that will ultimately determine what an individual will achieve — especially in today’s environment focused on being the best.

This speaker, who now is a cardiothoracic surgeon at a prestigious university hospital, had to learn the hard way that there is always someone smarter, willing to work harder, more naturally gifted, or with a better set of skills than each of us.  Failing (failing to get into your first choice school, failing to make the first choice team, failing to make the clutch play, …) will happen — it’s only a matter of time.  Those of us that bounce back from failure (use it as a motivator to make us work harder in practice, pay more attention during game film review, focus more energy on improving our weaknesses) will be the ones to ultimately succeed.

But that’s the harder, not the only, option.

We could also chose to make excuses, blame our teammates, coaches, or parents.  Blame circumstances beyond our control like the weather, humidity, sleep patterns, or spectators and generally hide from our failures.  When we do this, our ego is eased (maybe) but we don’t learn anything.  We don’t seize the opportunity to improve.  We hide from the factors that caused us to fail in the first place.  We look past the opportunity to improve our skills and/or our work ethic, which limits our future success –not because we failed but because we let our failure dictate our future actions.

So, although no one likes to fail, it makes a lot of sense to give some thought to how you have handled it in the past.  Did you make use of the unique (although often painful) opportunity you’ve been presented with?

Improve your balance

Balance is a key component to any type of athletic performance.  You know this.

But…are you actively focusing on your balance training?

To have great balance, you need to train the systems that work together to keep you moving in the direction you chose.  To do this, you not only need the musculature to pull your body into alignment, you also need the brain to understand what “off-balance” feels like and which muscles it needs to activate to regain your balance.

The best way to work on this is to push yourself to the edge of your abilities with exercises that challenge your ability to balance while you are strengthening.  Here are a couple examples from a recent Running Times article:

Contra Kick illustration

Photo Credit: Running Times

These exercises will not only strengthen the muscles surrounding your hips (which will make your body better able to pull your hips back under you when you step on that root or off the curb) but will also give your brain the opportunity to practice what it feels like to have your hips off center.  It also gives your brain a chance to feel what sensory input comes from the bottom of your feet when you are balancing.

Like all other components of athleticism, balance is built with practice and intentional effort.  Whether you’re a runner, a football or soccer player, or competitive cheer is your sport – balance is key to being able to move your body in the most effective way possible.


Broccoli can help fight the effects of air pollution!

Researchers from Johns Hopkins reported “study participants from one of the most polluted regions in China who consumed half a cup of broccoli sprout beverage were shown to excrete high levels of benzene and acrolein – a known human carcinogen and lung irritant, respectively.

Broccoli contains the compound glucoraphanin.  When it is eaten, it generates sulforaphane which increases a particular enzyme in the body allowing for an increased ability of the body to excrete pollutants.

How cool is that!!

Normally, I don’t get that caught up in all the “detox” hoopla because much of it has no basis in scientific research.  But this seems promising!  And with the summer months here (which means increased time outside in unfiltered air, ozone action days, road runs and rides on exhaust-filled streets, etc), it might just be time to fill up your grocery basket with this delicious green vegetable.  Put it in salads, eat it with dip, roast it on the grill.  We all knew it was good for us but now we have more reason that ever to eat it up!

Another Quick Read in Support of keeping the Play in Kids’ Sports

We’ve talked about the benefits of delaying specialization for youth athletes but the New York Times just published an article to give us more food for thought.

A couple of the interesting bits (emphasis mine):

1. “Nearly a third of youth athletes in a three-year longitudinal study led by Neeru Jayanthi, director of primary care sports medicine at Loyola University in Chicago, were highly specialized — they had quit multiple sports in order to focus on one for more than eight months a year — and another third weren’t far behind. Even controlling for age and the total number of weekly hours in sports, kids in the study who were highly specialized had a 36 percent increased risk of suffering a serious overuse injury. ”

2. “Because families with greater financial resources were better able to facilitate the travel and private coaching that specialization requires, socioeconomic status turned up as a positive predictor of serious injury.

3.” Kids who play multiple “attacking” sports, like basketball or field hockey, transfer learned motor and anticipatory skills — the unconscious ability to read bodies and game situations — to other sports. They take less time to master the sport they ultimately choose.

If you are a parent who wants to instill a love of sport, movement, competition, and health into your child for a lifetime, read this article and take it to heart.  Research shows there is plenty of time for your child to develop specialized sports skills without having them drop all but one sport when they are 6 or 7 or 9.  Let those growing bodies develop with a varied set of sports and skills.  They will be significantly less likely to be injured and their “game sense” have a larger set of background skills to draw on.

How much is Big Food willing to spend to get you to change your habits?

How much does seeing McDonald’s logos (or any other kind of junk/fast food) at your sporting event effect your eating patterns?

On the surface, I would like to say I am not that influenced by their marketing — what about you?

Just for the World Cup alone, Coca-Cola (a top tier sponsor) is spending $25-$50 million and McDonald’s (a second tier sponsor) is spending somewhere between $10-$15 million — just for marketing rights to the World Cup!  And that is not even their total bill for the event.

Junk food company marketing must work.  Otherwise, these very savvy marketing people wouldn’t risk that much of their company’s money to sponsor these events.  Maybe the marketing isn’t working on you — maybe it’s working on the kids.  Maybe it’s working on the rest of the world who doesn’t see themselves as athletes.  But it’s working on enough people to justify the expense.

Public health officials concerned with the growing waistlines of the US (and, in many cases, the world) are concerned this marketing is being effective.

My favorite obesity doc, Yoni Freedhoff is concerned about the effectiveness of junk food marketing in sports.

I’m not suggesting we legislate against it or vilify the companies that do it– but I think it’s important to see this marketing for what it really is:

It is a very successful way to get us to buy their products so they can make more money.  It’s the root of capitalism.

But just because their goal is to make as much money selling junk food to us as they can, doesn’t mean we have to buy in (pun intended) to their scheme.  Start with being aware of how many times during a sporting event (from live and in person youth competitions all the way up to the pro’s) — we see junk food cleverly associated with the competitions we love.  All those exposures add up to having us subtly associate the positive feelings we have for what we are experiencing (the sport part) with the logos and commercials we see.  It’s definitely subtle …. but research says it works.

Consciously paying attention to it may open your eyes and help you see how often and how much (and how cleverly) you are being swayed to change your behavior.  (Even though none of us really want to admit it!)