Preliminary research shows that our focus on 'to carb or not to carb' is short sighted at best.
In a study of 20 teens age 13 to 19:
"Caffeine-laden "energy shots" appear to trigger short-term insulin resistance in teenagers, Canadian researchers report.The finding suggests that this effect might lay the foundation for developing type 2 diabetes later in life, the researchers said.
Teens who downed a tiny orange bottle of 5-hour Energy -- which contains no sugar but has 208 milligrams of caffeine -- were not able to metabolize sugar as efficiently as when they drank a decaf version of the same drink, the study found.
Those who drank traditional 5-hour Energy™ experienced a 25 percent increase in both their blood sugar and blood insulin levels compared to when they drank the decaf version, the study authors said. "It's the caffeine," said senior researcher Jane Shearer, an assistant professor and diabetes researcher at the University of Calgary in Canada. "The elevated caffeine content in energy drinks is what causes this response."
[Monster™ is also an 'energy drink' as well as others]
Given the focus of the researchers on how this relates to type 2 diabetes only hints at a possible long term downside from the caffeine laden fad of consuming super energy drinks. However, given what we know about type 1 diabetes, these findings may be immediately useful for at least the following three reasons:
Just evaluating food in terms of carbs, protein and fat is inadequate
Not only do caffeinated energy drinks significantly raise blood sugar, it may also cause insulin resistance.
Teens and our society as a whole absolutely love these energy drinks and may be using them to treat low blood sugar without understanding the full impact of this choice.
If all of this is news to you then please help me spread at least a note of curiosity to encourage a little self-experimentation. If you already check blood sugar regularly and you consume energy drinks on a regular basis, why not do a little trial on yourself to see how these energy drinks affect your blood sugar?
Also, if you have a teen with diabetes or not, you might best share this information and encourage a more natural beverage alternative... like coffee, tea or... wait for it... wait for it... water!