Fatergy Drinks: The “Energy Drink” Myth De-Bunked

4th February 2013

By  Tracy  Kolenchuk

Guest Writer for  Wake Up World

I don’t call them Energy Drinks, I call them “Fatergy drinks”. They don’t give you energy, they give you fat.

The main ingredients in ‘fatergy drinks’ are sugars and caffeine, sometimes a few other stimulants, a few added vitamins and food colorings.

Don’t ask “do they provide energy?” ask: ‘do the people who buy fatergy drinks need energy?

Are the people who buy fatergy drinks ‘calorie starved’? Are they skinny, lethargic, suffering from malnutrition? Nope. Some are obese, a disease of malnutrition resulting from dietary imbalances. Their desire for ‘energy drinks’ is not a deficiency of energy, it’s a deficiency of health.

The ‘Energy’ Myth

Fatergy drinks provide a feeling of ‘energy’, a feeling of ‘health’. Foods can lie to you with taste, and lie with ‘feeling’. Processed foods are designed to lie to you. Manufacturers market foods that ‘taste great’, irrespective of their nutritional content. Fatergy drinks are excellent food liars. They taste ‘better’ than many healthy foods and drinks.

Why do you feel tired? You might be starving. You might be tired because your body needs to conserve energy. That’s pretty common in North America, right?

Or, you might feel tired because you lack sleep. Or rest. Duh.

If you are tired because your body is short of calories, consume some calories. Choose calories that improve other aspects of your healthiness – good, wholesome foods that contain the elements of a healthy body. If you are short of calories, you are probably deficient in many other nutrients as well.

If you are tired because you need sleep, you should sleep. When you decide instead to consume a ‘fatergy drink’, you are  tricking your body  into thinking it is ‘not tired’.

But health cannot be tricked.  Like all ‘health tricks’ – this one bites back.

When your body finds extra energy (calories) in sugar, it does the most sensible thing. It stores the energy in fat. Your body cannot convert ‘dietary fat’ directly into fat. Dietary fat must first be converted into system sugar (glucose), before it can be stored as fat. But sugar (sucrose, fructose, cane sugar, etc) is easily converted into fat. Sugar goes to your fat cells first and stimulates the creation of fat.

This is a natural process in the animal kingdom. Bears and squirrels know they will be short of energy in winter,and their bodies have learned the solution. Natural sugar is available in late summer and fall, exactly when they need to fatten up. So when sugar is available, they fatten up. Winter is coming.

You feel tired. Your body knows the truth. You feed it sugar (and caffeine to wake it up). It ‘wakes up and makes fat’.  Fatergy drinks make fat. But wait, there’s more….

The ‘Hydration’ Myth

When you consume a drink that is high in sugar, the sugar moves quickly into your bloodstream. When your blood contains an excess of sugar, your pancreas secretes insulin to process the sugar, to maintain a healthy level of sugar in your bloodstream. Insulin works to store the excess sugar in your liver, as glycogen, and in your fat cells, as triglycerides.  Eg. it makes fat.

If your blood sugar remains high for a long time, your kidneys take over and secrete sugar in your urine. You become a sweat pee. Have you heard of calories in, calories out? They didn’t mention that sugars can exit in the front, and fats can exit in the back. So of course when you pee sweet, you get thirsty, because your body becomes dehydrated by the elimination process. So, you drink more. Fatergy drinks are sold as a ‘thirst quencher’, but actually make you thirsty. It’s an addictive cycle.

Meanwhile, your body is working hard to maintain a healthy energy level in your blood, storing excess sugar in your liver and fat cells, shuffling of some of the excess in your urine, generating insulin like crazy. No wonder you feel tired – even though you are not ‘exercising’. Sugar makes you tired. But you already knew that. You’ve heard of the “wide awake drunk”, but have you heard of the “sweet pee sloth”?

Natural vs. Synthetic Vitamins

But, you ask… What about vitamins, don’t some of the fatergy drinks contain vitamins and other important nutrients? Many of the vitamins found in fatergy drinks are synthetic vitamins. Synthetic vitamins are made from dirt, not from food.  Plants grow from dirt. And you can take a clump of dirt to a chemical lab and make a version of a vitamin, or a version of an amino acid. But can you make a plant? No. Are synthetic vitamins healthy? They are, for the most part, poorly absorbed, and not as effective as natural vitamins if not totally ineffective. In a few cases they are as effective. But more effective? In very few cases. You can learn more about dirt (synthetic) vitamins here.

Natural vitamins, on the other hand are more expensive, and often more difficult for manufacturers to dissolve into a fatergy drink. So instead synthetic vitamins are used for marketing purposes.

But, but…. you argue… my energy drink has lots of taurine! Surely that’s good for me? Isn’t taurine an important amino acid? And it increases mental and physical performance, doesn’t it?

The question is…. is it taurine, the amino acid, is it ‘dirt taurine’, the synthetic version created in a chemical lab. Synthetic taurine has been banned in some countries, being linked to high blood pressure, strokes, and heart disease. But here in North America you can buy it by the case in fatergy drinks. Your fatergy drink might also contain sodium citrate, niacinimide (Vitamin B3), Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5), potassium (monopotassium phosphate), some ginseng, some prickly pear extract, some guarana, some ginkgo biloba, a bit of l-carnitine, a few anti-oxidants, some glucuronolactone,  a bit of yerba mate for a South American flavour, some creatine, some inositol,  maybe some milk thistle…. and some green tea of course. Who knows what might be added next.

What’s Really Going On Here?

It’s the marketing shotgun effect. Put a bunch of relatively harmless (on their own) ingredients into water, add some sweetener, natural or artificial, make up a fancy sounding name, a flashy label – and off to market. Market it as a turbo charger that provides more power to you, but don’t bother to tell people that turbo chargers burn out your engine faster; and that you only get one engine, one body.

Take the marketing to the next level by developing several slightly different products to fill the shelves with your name – and provide an illusion of choice. It’s an energy drink, so design energetic packaging and energetic advertising. Tell people it refreshes them, gives them energy, makes them ‘feel great’, but don’t tell them that it makes them fat, slow, sleepy… and addicted in the long term.

The sad truth about fatergy drinks: they are a manufactured product, for a manufactured need. Feel tired? Doesn’t everyone by the end of the day? Want more energy?  Who wants to sleep when being awake is so much more exciting!!! Have a fatergy drink. Party harder, work longer, stay awake later. Don’t worry about getting fat, you’ll burn off so many calories because you’re up longer – you’ll never get fat.

I call them fatergy drinks for a reason. They make you fat.

The ‘Diet’ Energy Drink Myth

But, but, but… what about ‘diet energy drinks‘, they don’t have sugar so they can’t make you fat, right? Sugar-free energy drinks with Vitamins added… surely those are healthy? Nope. Fatergy drinks are designed to sell, not to create health. Diet fatergy drinks are designed to make you feel better about having a fatergy drink.

Sugar substitutes taste sweet, so your brain thinks you are getting sugar. You can lie to your brain, but you can’t lie to your body. Your body doesn’t listen to your brain, it checks your blood sugar levels. No rise in blood sugar, no insulin rise. Not just now.

Your brain learns to like what you eat, so it learns to like sweet. So the odds are, when the dessert comes calling or the cookies in the cupboard scream for your attention, you hear, loud and clear. And you say to yourself, “I had a diet fatergy drink, so I can have a few more cookies.” Or,  when you hear that bag of potato chips calling. Oh, didn’t they tell you? Potato chips are sugar – and your body knows what you may not. You thought they were just fat and salt? Sorry, potato chips contain lots of sugar. Check the glycemic index! Sugar at 100 GI, potato chips are 50 GI. So 50 percent of your bag of potato chips is one step away from… yes, sugar. Diet fatergy cola and sugar chips. Who’d have thunk it? Depending on the size of your bag of chips – you might get less sugar drinking your sugary fatergy drink and leaving the chips behind.

Studies with rats demonstrated that rats fed sugar substitutes consume more calories and get fatter. A Texas Health Center study showed an association between people’s consumption of diet drinks and weight gain and obesity. Diet energy drinks are fatergy drinks too. They just have a better ‘marketing profile’. But ask yourself, how often do you see a skinny person drinking a diet fatergy drink?

Many diet drinks contain patented chemicals (eg. drugs made from dirt) rather than natural ‘sweet tasting’ products.  Did you ever try to figure out which sugar substitutes are safe? These drugs, like all drugs, come with side effects that are poorly documented and poorly studied over the long term. Are any of them healthy? Are some of them dangerous? Which are in your ‘diet fatergy drink’? Some manufacturers use single chemicals, but many use a blend of chemicals to give a better ‘sweet taste’. These chemical blends are also poorly studied, if they have been studied at all.

Diet fatergy drink manufacturers are not interested in creating healthiness. They are simply selling a ‘low calorie’ option – and it’s a buyer beware.

Fatergy drinks are no more about health than jumper cables. They jump start your nervous system, and are just as dangerous. If you use these products to replace your water supply, your health will suffer. It’s simple; you will be less healthy, and more fat. And if you think you can drink diet fatergy drinks to avoid fatness, you’re only fooling yourself; everyone else can see the fats as they are.

Will you die if you drink fatergy drinks? Some European nations have banned specific energy drinks due to deaths caused. Nutrition Watch also published a recent article on risk and adverse effects of energy drinks.

What about Fatergy Bars?  Don’t get me started…

To your health, Tracy

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About the Author

Tracy Kolenchuk, author of  Healthicine: The Arts and Sciences of Health and Healthiness  is a retired Canadian computer geek, health nut, arts photographer, cyclist, swimmer, world traveler, dog and horse lover, chess-player and tai chi practitioner who is passionate about everything he does.

Tracy is not a doctor. He is the founder of PersonalHealthFreedom.blogspot.com and the site Healthicine.org, where he expects to change the way the world defines and looks at health, healthiness and healthicine. He has written posts for GreenMedInfo.com and now WakeUp-World.com.

 


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