MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO —
For as long as there’s been an American military, coffee has been a staple, but in today’s modern military, troops are fueling up on a stronger beverage. According to a Walter Reed Army Institute of Research study, 45 percent of combat troops consume at least one energy drink per day, while 14 percent drink three or more per day.
Even though these caffeinated beverages have grown in popularity, Lauren King, Semper Fit Health Promotion Dietitian, cautions Marines to think twice before grabbing an energy drink for a morning boost or afternoon pick-me-up.
“[Unlike coffee] energy drinks are not regulated by the FDA, so you cannot be sure of the actual amount of caffeine or any other ingredient per serving,” King said.
In addition to high doses of caffeine, these potent cocktails also contain other stimulating ingredients, such as amino acids, herbal substances, sugar and sugar derivatives. High levels of these stimulants can have adverse effects on the body.
“Too much caffeine can result in nervousness and anxiety, irritability, inability to sleep, upset stomach, heart palpitations, dizziness, bone loss and increased blood pressure,” King said.
As the primary dietician for Marines aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, King has counseled hundreds of Marines on their nutritional habits. She said Marines who lack energy should evaluate their lifestyle.
“Eating a healthy and balanced diet, drinking water, exercising regularly and getting plenty of sleep can have profound effects on a person’s energy level, “she added.
However, because of military duties, getting adequate sleep can be challenging at times, and the way Marines may compensate for lack of rest can become part of their routine.
“During deployment [in Afghanistan] I drank a lot of energy drinks because of 18-20 hour work-days, but now it has become a subconscious habit to grab an energy drink before I start my day,” said Sgt. Colin Moreau, Marine Corps Community Services Marine with Headquarters and Services Battalion.
As an alternative, King suggests that Marines go for a traditional cup or two of “Joe,” adding that it’s an option that can be just as effective and a lot cheaper.
This isn’t to say Marines can’t ever consume an energy beverage.
“Energy drinks consumed in moderation can be safe for adults; however, caution is warranted,” King said. “People vary in their sensitivity to caffeine, but the general recommendation is 300mg per day, which is considered a safe dose for adults.”
King said their overall goal is to warn service members of negative effects that come along with guzzling these drinks in excess, as well as encourage healthy alternatives.
By Ameesha Felton | Marine Corps Base Quantico