‘Pie hole’, colloquial for one’s mouth, is believed to have evolved in the USA in the 1980s from the British expression ‘cake hole’ (coined in the mid 20th century). Pie hole refers to a mouth, as in: Shut your pie hole or, in this case: Put less in your pie hole.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Sport and Energy Drinks: Scientifically Formulated to Take Your Money

Our travels through the research behind sodas and soft drinks have set the tone to now discuss relatively new sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs) on the market. Sport and energy drinks. New research reveals interesting consumption patterns of these fun and fit workout companions. Join us, as we pop the lid on these performance-enhancing potions.

A recent study shows one in four US adults consume a sport or energy drink once per week. Additionally, one in nine adults consumes over three such drinks in a week. These numbers are rather astounding. Drinking three 20 oz bottles (one 20 oz bottle is 590ml, three 20 oz bottles is 1,770ml) of sport drink per week adds 477 calories to your diet. That’s almost the same as putting a McDonald’s double cheeseburger (450cal) in your pie hole. 
The study also discussed the demographics that tend to buy and swig these colourful concoctions. Contrary to SSBs like soda and fruit juice that are predominantly purchased and consumed among lower income and education groups, sport and energy drinks have higher consumption rates among higher income adults. Likely reasons for this include higher cost compared with other SSBs, and clever marketing (eg: endorsements by athletes).

Sport and energy drinks were most swigged by adults 18-24 years old, with 24% drinking three or more per week.

Drinking one or more of these specialised SSBs per week was significantly associated with drinking other beverages containing added sugar, like soda and fruit juice.  In addition to the calorie imbalance this can create, these beverages also contribute to high rates of pie hole erosion and dental caries.
An example of tooth erosion and dental caries. Patient history of
excessive daily consumption (5-6 bottles) of acidic carbonated beverages
Where energy drinks appear mostly consumed for the caffeine, sport drinks can actually have a place and benefit for some people. Sport drinks were originally designed for elite athletes as a way of simultaneously re-hydrating and providing fuel in the form of carbohydrates, and occasionally protein.

The ugly truth is, much of the research behind sport drinks and performance are financed by the companies trying to sell you their products: PepsiCo owns Gatorade; Lucozade is produced by GlaxoSmithKline and Coca-Cola Brands manufactures Powerade. Often these conflicts of interest are not declared or published. Additional problems with sponsored sport drink research includes:
  • Small sample sizes
  • Lack of 'blinding' (participants knowing that they are drinking a sport drink vs water. This invalidates findings because it doesn't take placebo effect into account)
  • Use of athletes as study participants (results are not representative of 'normal' people who workout a few times a week)
  • Manipulation of nutrition (many studies 'starve' participants the night prior and morning of the research study)
Unless you’re continuously training at a high intensity for 1-2.5hrs or >2.5-3hrs, the best beverage for your pie hole, and pocket book, is water.


Special acknowledgement to my friend and Doctor of Dental Surgery student Thomas W, for information about acidic beverages and impacts on dental health. www.buccal-aspect.com
Special thanks to Associate Professor in Nutrition and Dietetics at Deakin University, Tim Crowe, for insight and reference to further research. http://www.thinkingnutrition.com.au/

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