Have you ever stopped at the convenience store before class or during a long night of studying to get a quick energy boost? College students across campuses rely on artificial forms of energy to get them through long days and nights of class and studying. On top of the typical class demands, student-athletes have to attend mandatory workouts and practices on a regular basis. Unfortunately, student-athletes frequently fall victim to the same energy drink advertisements as the general population. What the energy drink advertisers fail to recognize is that no matter how “safe” or “natural” these energy drinks may be, they may also jeopardize a student-athlete’s athletic eligibility.
Even though the NCAA does not specifically list caffeine as a banned substance, they do regulate the caffeine intake of the collegiate student-athletes by monitoring the concentration of caffeine in the individual’s urine. The NCAA states that a student-athlete will test positive for caffeine if the concentration in urine exceeds 15 micrograms/ml.
In addition to the regulation of caffeine content, the NCAA has a list of other banned stimulants, including an all-natural substance called guarana. Guarana is a plant derivative and one of the richest sources of caffeine, containing up to three times the amount of caffeine as coffee. Even though it has yet to be evaluated by the FDA for safety, effectiveness, or purity, energy drink manufacturers frequently utilize this ingredient as an alternative to other stimulants.
The NCAA is not stating that student-athletes have to completely cut out caffeinated beverages from their daily diet, but the key is moderation. Caffeine consumption in combination with proper hydration using water and electrolyte replacement beverages (i.e. Powerade, Gatorade, etc.), and refraining from energy drinks with excessive amounts of caffeine can prevent a high caffeine concentration in urine. To help you make educated decisions and be more aware of what you’re consuming, the energy drink brochure includes a list of energy drink caffeine contents, energy drinks containing guarana, and various energy drink related websites. Do not let one small decision affect your athletic career.
Banned substance information provided by the NCAA
Blog entry provided by Julie Kruessel, ATC