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A new study has discovered a powerful force that is now driving evolution on Earth.

Caffeine drinks vs Sports drinks: Which is healthier?

Constantly, people confuse these two interchangeable, however, they couldn’t be more different.
I believe these get confused mostly due to the fact that many people are able to get a boost off them allowing them to perform at a higher level at a given task, for example during a workout at the gym. Although, most of the sports drinks sold are consumed without participating in any strenuous activity, the reason by which they are designed for.
So, this begs the question; what really is the difference between sports drinks and caffeine drinks, both referred to as ‘energy drinks’.
To understand this we need to look at the different types of substances that are providing the sudden boost and the effects these substances have on the body.

Caffeine drinks vs Sports drinks

Sports drinks

There are many types of sports drinks, such as iso-tonic, hyper-tonic and hypo-tonic. The difference in these drinks basically means that they have different amounts of electrolytes (minerals such as chloride, calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium) and added sugar. Electrolytes have been found to be lost from the body especially when sweating, so to replace them via a drink is somewhat handy. But the substance we want to focus on is the high amount of carbohydrates added.

Our bodies can produce energy is many ways from either fat, protein or carbohydrate, and it is carbohydrates the body prefers. Now this makes sense working out does require a massive loss of energy, so to consume energy makes sense.

Carbohydrate, when ingested, begins to be broken down as it passes through the digestive system, it is easily broken down in a very efficient way leaving glucose single molecules, otherwise known as sugar. This sugar will then travel into and around the bloodstream. Due to this, the bloodstream sugar levels become elevated, through which leads to the release of insulin which binds to the cells opening a gate allowing the sugar to enter the cell, in this case, a muscle cell, from which the sugar will be converted to energy. This then supplies all of the cells with energy allowing the person to work that little harder and longer.

So, brilliant if you are taking part in a high endurance activity, but not so much if you are not!

Not so much because constant high blood sugar levels will begin to wear out the insulin receptors that bind to insulin. This can then eventually lead to insulin being unable to open that gate to allow insulin into the cells, otherwise known as diabetes type II. Also, when the blood sugar levels are high and are not being used then the excess sugar will be stored as fat eventually making fatty tissue, otherwise known as adipose tissue.

Just to clarify the extra boost from energy is due to the high sugar content, which is helpful when exercising hard fuelling those starved muscles, but not just as a standard regular drink, and probably not the best option for your children.
But to be honest, water is still the preferred option, followed by a healthy meal after.

Caffeine drinks

Are these really energy drinks.
Yes, they do offer that boost making you more alert, but how do they work and what are they doing to our bodies.
Okay, before we start I just want to clarify that taurine is an amino acid that is required to help regulate contraction of muscular tissue such as the heart so sorry the rumour that taurine comes from bull testicles is false, a little off-topic.

The obvious chemical here is of course caffeine, which it is evident that it defiantly provides an extra boost but in a much different way than sugar.

Throughout the day there have been found that many neuro-modulators accumulate in the central nervous system by which when enough has accumulated the body begins to become tired. One of the most studied neuromodulators in regards to sleep is adenosine. In this case, the role of adenosine is to inhibit certain excitatory neuro-transmitters like serotonin and acetylcholine.

Now, this is where caffeine plays its part!

Caffeine has been shown to block adenosine, therefore allowing these excitatory neurotransmitters to become more active. In return, increases your heart rate, dilates the blood vessels encouraging more oxygenated blood to reach the brain and muscle cells at a much faster rate, allowing energy to be produced faster.
Also, caffeine has been found to inhibit ADH, whose role is to reabsorb water back into the body. Due to this inhibition, the body will become dehydrated over time and you would most probably want to be close to a toilet as any water in your body that passes the kidneys will probably be lost into your bladder.

On a serious note, caffeine hasn’t been rendered to be unsafe, but should not be over consumed, this is because caffeine will induce the release of that reserved energy in your body, which is easily balanced out with a meal, but without long periods of food, and overexposure of caffeine, it could possibly lead to health complications such as dizziness and fainting.
I believe like most things we do, eat and drink, they are best to be consumed in moderation and not on regular occasions.