You’ve heard the advertisements. Got Milk? It does a body good.
However, according to one Olympic trainer and member of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association Hall of Fame as well as published author of four books on sports and training, chocolate milk may very well be the better alternative.
The National Milk Mustache “Got Milk?” campaign has chosen Phillip Hossler, Athletic Trainer at East Brunswick High School, to be featured early next year in trade magazines aimed at coaches, trainers and athletic administrators.
Hossler has been urging his young athletes for years to use chocolate milk after a workout or competition to rejuvenate their sore or damaged muscles.
In an interview with the Asbury Park Press, Hossler says, “To replenish fluids, water works, although some research shows chocolate milk does that well, too.”
Hossler discourages his students from grabbing highly caffeinated energy drinks before, during and after a workout.
“Energy drinks just don’t have a place in youth competition,” Hossler emphasizes in that same interview.
A Mayo Clinic report released last year identifies potential side-effects of energy drinks such as insomnia, nervousness, nausea, rapid heartbeat, and, in some rare cases, seizures and cardiac arrest, particularly in people with underlying or pre-existing medical conditions. The review also cites four documented cases of caffeine-related deaths involving high energy drink consumption.
According to a report released last month by the federal government’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, emergency room visits associated with energy drink usage increased more than tenfold from 1,128 in 2005 to 13,114 in 2009. 44 percent of those cases involved combinations with alcohol, pharmaceutical or illicit drugs.
The American Academy of Pediatrics affirmed the distinction between sports drinks like Gatorade and energy drinks such as Red Bull and Monster in the June issue of its Pediatrics journal.
The report identifies sports drinks as liquids used for fluid, electrolyte and carbohydrate replenishment while stating that so-called energy drinks such as Red Bull, Monster and others contain “non-nutritive stimulants” like caffeine, guarana, taurine, ginseng, L-carnitine, creatine, and/or glucuronolactone, with “purported performance-enhancing effects.”
Health professionals agree caffeine can increase anxiety in people with certain physical or neurological disorders and can trigger irregular heartbeats.
The American Academy of Pediatrics additionally states, “Concerns regarding the use of caffeine in children include its effects on the developing neurologic and cardiovascular systems.”
Dr. John Kripsak, Director of Sports Medicine at Somerset Medical Center in Somerville and member of the Medical Advisory Board of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, told the Asbury Park Press that caffeine can negatively interact with other drugs, like those controlling Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and can accelerate dehydration.
On the flip side, the beverage industry has conducted its own studies and contends its products are not dangerous when used in moderation by healthy people.
Tracey Halliday, a spokesperson for the American Beverage Association says, “Regulatory agencies around the globe agree that caffeine is a safe ingredient to use in food and beverages.”
The Beverage Association advises its members not to sell their products in K through 12 schools, not to market to children younger than 12, and to voluntarily list the amount of caffeine from all sources. The Association further suggests including a label advising that the drinks are not recommended for children, pregnant or nursing women or any individual who is sensitive to caffeine.
A website encouraging the consumption of chocolate milk set up by the Milk Processor Education Program, the trade group behind the “Got Milk?” campaign, offers its own research. The website includes studies from journals like Applied Physiology and the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research shows that low-fat chocolate milk builds muscle and improves endurance and performance.
Some of the studies show the benefits of chocolate milk were funded by dairy industry groups while some of the research on the Red Bull site was funded by the company, which is mentioned in those scientific, peer-reviewed journal articles.
Popular energy drinks are a $7.7 billion dollar business. Eight ounce sizes contain between 47 and 80 milligrams of caffeine. Spike Shooter contains a whopping 300 mg. The Mayo Clinic says, by comparison, eight ounces of generic brewed coffee contains between 95 and 200 mg while cola-type drinks are limited by the Food and Drug Administration to 71 mg.
The top three best selling energy drinks in the country are Monster, Red Bull and Rockstar, according to the trade publication, Beverage Digest.