Just because it is “Natural” it is not necessarily safe or healthy

Regular InGoal Columnist Maria Mountain is an expert trainer of hockey players, including Stanley Cup Champions. Learn more about working with her at www.hockeytrainingpro.com

Luongo Drinking

The best thing for your water bottle - before and after the game - is water.

Let me start by saying I love my Mom, she is great and was patient enough to raise my brother and me. I am pretty sure she does not read InGoalMag, so I think I am safe to tell this story about my Mom. When we were kids having potato chips or a can of Coke was a huge treat. In the summer when we were off school, we were allowed to pick one box of sugary cereal for the whole summer (Cap’n Crunch being my favourite!). So now when we have a family gathering, my Mom likes to spoil us with some of those treats, but she tries to be health conscious at the same time, so she will buy chips that are “trans fat free organic,” for example.

The marketers are so clever that they make us believe that this is a healthy choice, making “trans fat free organic” potato chips is kind of like putting lipstick on a pig – it is still a pig and chips are still crap! What other examples do you see – how about sugar free ice cream? Okay, so now you have a chemically sweetened ice cream that is still loaded with fat – is that really better?

Now let’s look at the so called energy drinks that are all natural! Cocaine comes from a plant – plants are natural right? So does that mean it is safe to consume cocaine? Sounds like a dumb question doesn’t it? Yet I still get hockey players asking me about the latest ‘energy drink’ with herb ‘xyz’ that is all natural.

Editor’s note: According to the Globe and Mail, a recent study in the medical journal Pediatrics notes:”Energy drinks are under-studied, overused and can be dangerous for children and teens” and they should be regulated like alcohol and tobacco.

The potential harms, caused mostly by too much caffeine or similar ingredients, include heart palpitations, seizures, strokes and even sudden death

Sales of energy drinks are expected to top $9 Billion this year – and according to Dr. Marcie Schneider, an adolescent medicine specialist in Greenwich, Connecticut and member of the nutrition committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics:

“These drinks have no benefit, no place in the diet of kids.”

Because it is ‘natural’ it is not necessarily safe – just ask the OHL players who were suspended 8-games for a first time doping infraction. One of the players purchased an over-the-counter supplement and even identified himself as an OHL player before making the purchase AND he checked the ingredients listed against the list of banned substances.

Surprise, surprise, the banned substance was not listed on the ingredient list! One of its derivatives was listed instead. So here are your take home messages:

  • Because something is labeled as “all natural” it is not necessarily good for you or safe.
  • Even clerks working in the sport nutrition stores cannot keep track of what products are safe or not – you cannot take their word for it.
  • Finally, if you are tired enough that you need an energy drink to get you excited about a hockey game, how about you try this supplement…sleep! Go to bed at 9pm and then you won’t be so tired.

Bottom line, you are responsible for what you put in your body. If you have any doubts, don’t eat or drink it. Here is another suggestion, the next time you are looking for a pre-game drink try water, or one of the lower carb sport drinks (when the game starts you want to be drinking the full carb version). If you really feel you need a stimulant before the game then stop off at the coffee shop on your way to the rink and grab a cup of coffee.

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5 Responses to Revolution Conditioning Training Tips

  1. I agree with you Maria. I used to drink Gatorade before and after games to replenish. I tried those energy ones with caffeine derivatives but I found my heart rate would climb too fast and then I’d crash towards the end of the game. This would be one reason I wouldn’t advise a coffee before a game. Caffeine being a diuretic would not be a smart choice before a sport that requires you to keep hydrated.

    What I now use before my runs and before big games is an all plant based product (Vega Sports performance optimizer). This was a conscious choice as I became a vegetarian a year ago.

    Marketing is a powerful tool, but consumer awareness and education is even stronger ;)

    Rich
    http://www.istoplapuck.ca

  2. Maria says:

    Hi Richard,

    I used to think the same thing about caffeine – actually up until about one month ago – but the research does not support that caffeine increases urinary output. – http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/caffeinated-drinks/AN01661

    Thanks for sharing your favourite sports drink, I have not tried that one. Personally, I like water before sport and if it is a vigorous event then Powerade during.

    Cheers,
    Maria

  3. steve says:

    hi maria, ive been reading your articles and find them to be great reads for people who just are completely unaware, which is great because there is so much crap out there. i am an off ice coordinator (havent got my cscs until i graduate, so ill call myself that for now !) for a college club team. i have been playing with pre, during and post game nutrition in regards to performance with my players. alot of the guys like the gatorade prime before the game , and we have tried freeze pops, or freezes with a b vitamin supplement with similar success. also advocare has alot of nice ncaa legal products, IF you need a caffeine buzz before the game. i tell my athletes to cut out caffeine during the week so they use it for that one or two games and thats it. guys have noticed this gives them the buzz they are looking for, while lowering thier dosage of weekly caffeine! during the game i have my own concoction for during the game with watered down some aminos and carbs and other stuff. definately prevents fatigue and jump starts the recovery process.
    anyways i enjoy the articles!

  4. Thanks for your input Steve – always great to hear what other S&C coaches out there are doing. Good luck on your CSCS exam and hope the team has a successful play-off run!
    Sincerely,
    Maria

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