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Red Bull - can any physiologists/cardiologists explain?

stu99stu99 Posts: 177
edited September 2008 in Training, fitness and health
I consumed 3 cans of Red Bull during a recent European sportive and felt that it made a noticeable difference to performance and endurance. I subsequently came across this article on the internet.

Amino Acids. 2001;20(1):75-82.

The influence of a taurine containing drink on cardiac parameters before and after exercise measured by echocardiography. Baum M, Weiss M.
Institute of Sports Medicine, University of Paderborn, Federal Republic of Germany. [email protected]

To determine the effect of the taurine containing drink "Red Bull" on cardiac parameters thirteen endurance trained subjects performed an exhaustive bout of endurance exercise at three different times. Prior to the exercise the original "Red Bull" drink, a similar drink without taurine, containing caffeine, and a "placebo" drink without caffeine and without taurine were ingested by the subjects in a double-blind cross-over design. Echocardiographic examinations were performed before the drinks, 40 minutes after the drinks prior to the exercise and in the regeneration period after exercise. Stroke volume was significantly influenced only in the "Red Bull group" (80,4+/-21,4 ml before drink vs. 97,5+/-26,2 ml in the regeneration period), mainly due to a reduced endsystolic diameter and volume. Furthermore in this group the peak late diastolic inflow (V(A)) in the regeneration period was significantly higher compared with the pre-exercise levels. This observation was also made in the caffeine group but without any consequences on ventricular function. The results of the present study show an influence of the original caffeine and taurine containing drink (Red Bull) on parameters of the cardiac contractility.

Anyone out there who can explain the effects (and likely advantages/disadvantages) of Red Bull in layperson's terms?


  • I'm not a physiologist, nor do I know the contents of a Red Bull, so for what it's worth:

    Caffeine is a well known (legal) ergogenic aid which can improve aerobic endurance performance.

    Caffeine however does lose its ergogenic effects if you regularly load with it (which is pretty common for coffee addicts) and hence require an acute high dose (such as 3 red bulls) to gain the same effect as someone who doesn't use caffeine, then has a lower dose prior to exercise. Caffeine is also a dieuretic and as such can hasten dehydration, so it may create other problems for endurance athletes.

    I am unfamiliar with the use of taurine as an ergogenic aid.
  • stu99 wrote:

    Anyone out there who can explain the effects (and likely advantages/disadvantages) of Red Bull in layperson's terms?

    Yes. It gives you wings :mrgreen:
  • The thing is, you can smell the taurine in Red bull a mile away. I'm not sure how the subjects would have drunk all three during the tests... but if they have the possibility to smell which one is which, it can't be truly a blind test...

    On a personal matter,
    I have recently been told by the missus to give up Red Bull and all other similar drinks! :shock: I suppose it's fair enough, cause I made her give up smoking... anyway, I was drinking an average of 1 can of "Pink Fish" (cheaper + nicer) per day, but before I met her when I was finishing my Ph.D, I was drinking up to 5 a day in OZ! eyebrow.gif

    I've since been instructed by her that 1 a week is okay.

    I previously collected these types of energy drinks & I do think they're fairly addictive. If not for the chemicals, then the direct sugar rush. The first few days was not easy. No withdrawal symptoms as such, but I just had an uncontrollable desire to drink one. I had to hold myself back in the local Texaco garage... I also had a few mood drops when I didn't get my regular sugar dose.

    I admit they do help a bit with fatigue after a long ride or a long day, but I also think they raise your anxiety level in an already stressful world. I'm not the calmest person - I'm also trying to break a stupid 20 year old nail biting habit. image015.gif But I'm having a real go at kicking both habits at the same time. I prefer to drink green tea instead... so much healthier and you feel better for it.
  • KléberKléber Posts: 6,842
    It basically says it affects your heartbeat but the sample group of 13 people renders the results doubtful. You would have to test a lot more people.

    Personally I wouldn't touch caffeine, Red Bull or other drinks for serious sports events. You risk longer term damage from dehyrdration, from kidneys and more. For the initial kick you get, you risk paying later.

    Besides, thinking that particular chemicals are the way to boost your performance is the wrong way to go.
  • bobpzerobobpzero Posts: 1,431
    what would u use kleber? powerbar gel?
    i thought that with 3 red bulls u would be burping out several classical symphonys
    ive tried the red bull cola, it tastes nice, tho its so full of various stuff, its more an another coca cola contender. anyways just listen to some dragonforce lol that will get u going.
  • cougiecougie Posts: 22,512
    I was used for a similar study in the UK for Red Bull. 40km TT and I did 3 rides - one with Red Bull. One with 2x Red Bull. One with just flavoured water.

    I couldnt tell the difference between the drinks, and we actually used 2 different bikes - one was just too small for me - so the tests werent brilliantly accurate.

    I never found out which test was which, and the times were all pretty similar.

    I'm not convinced it has much benefit for me over shorter distances, but for longer events - IM, or long TTs - I think I get a caffeine boost if I've avoided it before the race.
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