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Why Energy Drinks May Be Overrated

“Meal Replacement” alternatives…How much of the hype is science—and how much is fiction?

Like personal aircraft, elixirs offering all the necessary nutrients in a single dose have been a staple of science fiction.

For good reason. Athletes seek a power surge. Seniors dream of a healthy dinner which needs no cooking before and no clean-up after. We all hope to control our weight.

With the introduction of MR “meal replacement” alternatives and energy supplements (bars, drinks, and powders), we stepped into the future. But how much of the hype is science—and how much is fiction?

Weight loss: maybe. An active and highly disciplined person can shed pounds by replacing one meal a day with an MR. But replacement is the key—adding a “slimming drink” to the day’s intake will lead to disappointment at the scales.

Senior sustenance: yes, you can get many of your minimum daily requirements this way, but it’s as exciting as kissing the wall. And you’re still lacking those all-important attributes of freshness, fiber, and friendly sociability. Save MRs for those days when you have no appetite and yet need to keep up your strength.

Instant energy: yes! Whatever their form, MRs are packed with sugars. To the athlete, they offer that easy burst to push on to the finish line. But anyone tending toward diabetes must be careful of a sudden high blood glucose level.

Athletes also need to beware of a similar product—the sports drink. Sports drinks are formulated to maintain hydration, keep electrolytes in balance, and add carbohydrates and calories. These are important goals, but too much of a good thing is a bad thing. Sports drinks are packed with sugar, salt, and potassium that you don’t really need unless you are working your body extremely hard. Keep informed and use moderation.

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