If you’re anything like me you love the idea of having a secret advantage, something up your sleeve that no one knows about. Then as soon as your opponent underestimates you, you catch them off guard and demolish them, making them wonder, what hell just happened…
And if this catches your interest, then chances are you’ve probably fallen into the appeal of energy drinks. It’s hard to ignore them, seeing as they promise focus, energy and ultimately a competitive edge. Not to mention that many known eSports players are constantly seen using energy drinks.
But despite the marketing appeal of energy drinks and sponsorships with pro gamers, one need to question if these drinks actually improve performance. In order to understand this we need to look at what’s inside the can…
While caffeine is a no-brainer for boosting your short-term performance, the other ingredients in these drinks are questionable. And the more you look into them, the more you’ll realize that energy drinks might not be what what you thought they were. In fact the companies trying to sell them to you might just be trying to manipulate you in order to make a profit.
From the outside looking in, energy drinks look promising if you want to improve your performance.
When you see their flashy ads or you see your favourite esports player getting sponsored by Redbull, it makes energy drinks hard to ignore.
And since these energy drink companies claim to boost your focus and energy, it’s hard to imagine that they wouldn’t boost your gaming performance.
But it makes one wonder, are energy drinks too good to be true? Are the companies that sell them lying to us about how they can improve our performance?
Not only do energy drinks not improve your performance, they can actually reduce your performance. And not just a little bit, they can reduce performance to an extend that US Navy pilots are banned from drinking them before flying!
But if energy drinks can boost your energy and make you feel good, then how the hell don’t they improve your overall performance?
Well, in a previous video I broke down why this might be the case – the main culprit is sugar. Sugar is added to energy drinks in ridiculously high amounts so that the drinks are as addicting as possible.
Unfortunately sugar in high amounts actually destroys your brain’s ability to perform, and in turn destroys your gaming performance. In fact in one study where rats were given a high sugar diet, their brain function decreased so much that they began to perform as though they had alzheimer’s.
So it’s obvious, refined sugar needs to be avoided when it comes to your brain’s health and your ability to perform. This means that energy drinks that are high in sugar must be avoided if you want to improve as a competitive gamer. But, this raises a good question, what about energy drinks that are “sugar free”?
After I first discovered that energy drinks were ruining my performance I decided to avoid them for quite some time. But eventually I came across an ad for a “zero sugar” Red Bull.
At this point I still didn’t trust energy drinks, but I decided to try it anyway. Mid way through consuming it, something peaked my curiosity. This drink didn’t taste much different than a typical Red Bull. So I wondered how they got it to be so sweet without any sugar. After a quick google search I discovered that they maintained the sweet taste by using artificial sweeteners – mainly aspartame.
I once heard a rumor that aspartame can cause cancer, but I didn’t really believe it. Not to mention that my main concern is really just my gaming performance, and if aspartame doesn’t affect that, then I don’t have that much of a problem with it.
At this point I was hopeful, I thought to myself, maybe Energy Drink companies are finally catching their mistake of using too much sugar, and they’re trying to redeem themselves with a drink that can actually boost performance.
Unfortunately this wasn’t the case. As I dug deeper into the effects of aspartame I realized that it’s just as bad, if not worse than sugar for your mental performance.
As it turns out, aspartame is what’s called, an “excitatory neurotoxin”. This means that it causes the synapses in your brain to unnecessarily fire over and over again – which drains a lot of your brain’s energy and destroys your performance.
But the crazy thing is that this isn’t even all.
Aspartame is made of two amino acids, of which, one is “Phenylalanine”. When consumed Phenylalanine is chemically altered into “free methanol” – which is toxic to your brain. And once this methanol is done wreaking havoc on your brain, it ends up in the liver, where it’s converted into formaldehyde. Formaldehyde causes oxidative stress, greatly reducing the energy production of your cells, so much so, that it leads some cells to apoptosis (cell death).
To put this all simply, aspartame poisons your brain, ruining your cognitive function, and gaming performance, while at the same time, draining so much energy out of your body that some cells have no choice but to die.
Lets just say after doing this research, I did not finish my drink…
Don’t get me wrong, energy drinks aren’t all that bad. In fact some include pretty interesting ingredients that may actually help you as a competitive gamer.
To begin let’s look a caffeine. Caffeine is a chemical that’s most notably found in coffee and tea. Caffeine has a ton of research showing that it can improve memory, reduce fatigue, and even speed up your reaction times. It’s a no-brainer why this can improve your performance, especially as a competitive gamer. But if you’re only looking for the benefits of caffeine, why not drink something cheaper, like coffee or tea?
Well, energy drink companies are aware of this objection, and try to persuade you that their drinks are much more than caffeinated sugar water. So, on top of the obvious caffeine, they add exotic sounding ingredients like taurine, ginseng and even B-vitamins.
At this point you’re probably as skeptical as I am, because it’s likely that these ingredients are just randomly thrown in for the sake of marketing. But before we jump to conclusions let’s take a look at some of these ingredients.
Let’s look at Taurine – Despite it being in most energy drinks, taurine hasn’t actually been shown to boost energy or affect performance in any way. In fact, the only notable effect it has been proven to have is that is can improve blood flow in type 1 diabetics.
Another common ingredient in energy drinks is Glucuronolactone which has surprisingly minimal research, and no research supporting its use in energy drinks.
Then there are the B-Vitamins. When it comes to B-vitamins it’s hard to go wrong. They are essential for energy production and your cognitive function. As someone obsessed with brain performance I always recommend having sufficient B12 and B6 intake.
Unfortunately most energy drinks even get this wrong. Most energy drink companies are trying to cut corners wherever possible, a perfect example of this is with the ingredient Cyanocobalamin. Cyanocobalamin is a synthetic form of B12, that is commonly used because of how cheap it is. Unfortunately the human body struggles to actually absorb Cyanocobalamin, meaning that the majority of it just goes right through you without benefiting you in anyway.
While doing research for this video I was surprised to find that majority of energy drinks use Cyanocobalamin regardless of it not being effective at all. But I was pleased to discover that the popular drink GFuel actually uses Methylcobalamin, which is much easier for your body to absorb and thus it actually benefits your energy level. So shout out to GFuel for that.
Unfortunately, despite this one redeeming quality, I discovered that even the “energy drink of esports” has it’s flaws. While they might be “starting a revolution” for “clean energy”, it appears they are doing so in bit of a dirty way.
Now I will admit that the first time I saw the GFuel product label I was impressed. There are tons of exciting ingredients that I had previously read about.
But now looking back it’s easy to see that their goal is for someone like me to see all these ingredients and assume that it is packed full with more energy and more focus then I know what to do with.
But digging just below the surface, I realized that Gfuel was guilty of “dusting”. Dusting is an unofficial term for products that add a lot of different ingredients but add just a little bit of each of them. Unfortunately taking a tiny bit of each ingredient has no effect at all, it’s like drinking a teaspoon of coffee and expecting to get a crazy caffeine buzz.
So while products like this look interesting from the label and claim to have great ingredients, they are aware that there isn’t enough of any of these ingredient to have any effect. In fact the only reason they do this is for marketing and more profit.
And you can usually spot companies that are guilty of this, because they hide behind proprietary blends, where they don’t have to tell you how much of each ingredient they actually put in their product. You’ll see this on labels as “energy blend” or “focus complex” – which is an instant red flag.
To further clarify this point, I decided to use GFuel as an example, with just a little research I discovered how much of each ingredient SHOULD be in their product. Based on the recommended, effective doses of each ingredient, their Focus blend should be 3 grams instead of 1.2 grams. That means there’s less than half of the effective dose for any of these ingredients to actually work. And their Energy Complex should be a total of 13 grams… not under 2 grams (1.85 grams). This sad truth reveals that even GFuel, the revolution starter is hiding behind a big secret for the sake of profit.
From the outside looking in energy drinks look promising if you want to improve your performance. But from the inside looking out you can now see energy drink companies don’t care about your performance, they just care about making a profit, and they’re willing to do so by adding addictive sugar, neurotoxic sweeteners, and ridiculous additives. All of which drain your body of energy, and leave you feeling tired and foggy headed.
On top of this they’re trying to trick you with unreliable ingredients and proprietary blends.
So after knowing all of this, you might say that these energy drink companies that are trying to trick you and manipulate you, are involved in a bit of a dishonest scheme…