Zero calorie ‘energy’ drinks piss me off. Why?
A zero calorie energy drink is a flat-out contradiction.
What I want to know is this: how come we let big business redefine our language to their own greedy ends? I mean the people who make low-calorie energy drinks know they have no energy in them, so why are they called energy drinks?
I think its because energy is a misunderstood concept and they are taking advantage of this.
Understanding what energy is (and more importantly isn’t) will allow people to more accurately decide things correctly – like whether it’s a good idea to try hike 100 miles across a desert armed only with zero calorie energy drinks.
So for background, please take a look at my article on energy designed for people with too little time to read a whole book, or even a pamplet.
Now, the specific issue here is that people are confusing energy sources with stimulants. Sure, the sugary versions do actually supply some energy, but no more than a can of Coke – but these guys are not charging those absurd prices for sugar – those prices, and claims, are for the drugs. Compounds like caffeine affect our nervous system and interfere with our built-in protection systems, systems that make us feel tired after effort, mechanisms that force us to get the sleep we need in order to rest our muscles and reboot our brains.
The issue here is that the word stimulant is not as easy to sell as ‘energy’, and the English language does allow us to mix up feeling ‘energetic’ with feeling alert and ready for action. The nerdy scientific truth issue here is that tired people actually still actually have plenty of energy (especially if they are prosperous about the middle) it is just their inclination to use that energy that changes.
So next time you feel tired but need to keep going, by all means get a ‘so-called’ energy drink but remember it is mainly just a drug. The next time you hit a wall 20 miles into a marathon, remember to get some real energy.
PostscriptSo is messing with you body’s tiredness systems bad? Not necessarily! We must also resist overreacting and committing another crime – resorting to the naturalistic fallacy that messing with nature is fundamentally a bad idea. I quite like it when medical science messes with natural things like smallpox and malaria for example. Stimulants are not all bad, keeping alert can keep us safe when driving, and used in moderation can actually help us focus through tedious study or exams.