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Fuel for the fire.

Concentration, control, and endurance; cooks must possess these attributes to survive on the playing field. Like athletes, cooks must have the focus of a marathon runner. The line is hot and the pace is hectic; there is no room for error. As a result, cooks need a surge of adrenaline during the main crunch of service, and in preparation, many fill-up on sugary, caffeine-laden drinks or multiple shots of espresso throughout the day.

At the end of the night, the "buzz" from these artificial stimulants keeps cooks awake for hours, often requiring a few rounds at the bar to "unwind." The effects of this roller coaster ride of artificial highs and lows can ultimately take their toll on mental alertness and physical condition. Fatigue sets in quickly when bodies are depleted of basic nutrients, amino acids, and most importantly, water. The heat from the kitchen and exertion on the job dehydrate the guys on the line; these fluids must be replaced.

How many Mountain Dews[R], Jolts[R], or cups of coffee do you consume in a day or on the line before service? How else can you quench your thirst when things heat up on the line?

Burn Out Caffeine is the great energizer for many cooks and is a tonic to enduring long hours of physical work; it makes being in the weeds bearable. But caffeine is a diuretic, robbing the body of' valuable fluids. During a busy service, cooks perspire large amounts of body fluids. These are often not replaced, resulting in dehydration. Dehydration, combined with the heat of the kitchen, can have serious adverse effects such as fainting, nausea, or cramps. In addition, cooks fill up with the same dangerous fuel (caffeinated, sweet beverages) on a regular basis to get them through each service. Often becoming addicted to the resulting "jolt", they build a tolerance that can become detrimental. They're damned if they do, and damned if they don't.

To combat the effects of dehydration for competitive and professional athletes, most sports trainers recommend drinking as much as 16 ounces of water two hours before a practice or a competition and again, an hour later. However most cooks don't follow through with the pre and post game practice of re-hydration. Likewise, trainers recommend avoiding many health/energy drinks because most contain a high concentration of caffeine and sugar. Such drinks can cause the jitters that lead to a "crash" effect when the sugar high inevitably wears off.


Several ingredients recur on labels of some energy drinks that are vitamin/mineral/herbal laden: Ginseng, guarana, taurine and electrolytes (calcium, magnesium, and potassium.) Each is beneficial.

American and Korean ginseng are favored by herbalists for their ability to promote physical and mental alertness. Siberian ginseng, slightly more potent than the North American variety, affects the adrenal pituitary axis, which excretes the hormone epinephrine, a natural stimulant and muscle relaxant Electrolytes, perhaps the best-known ingredient in energy drinks, help the body stay hydrated and prevent muscle cramping.

Listed below are some ingredients and their benefits:

arabinogalactan or larch arabinogalactan is a polysaccharide found in the larch tree and is a known "immune boosting" compound.

damiama is a tree native to Mexico and South America used for its ability to act as a stimulant. It is also said to have aphrodisiac effects.

ginkgo biloba is a tree native to Japan and is commonly found in China. Herbalists use the leaves as a remedy for memory loss as the consumption of gingko biloba dilates the blood vessels, allowing more oxygen to circulate to the brain and ultimately stimulate mental activity.

guarana is a berry native to South America and is prized for its ability to boost energy levels as well as to alleviate muscle tension, stress, and headaches.

guto kola acts as a stimulant to the brain and nervous system and promotes mitosis-cell division, which encourages the healing of skin abrasions.

isonitol aids in the metabolism of fat into energy.

niacin (vitamin B3) or nicotinic acid, an important member of the vitamin B complex, aids the metabolic process for growth in every cell.

riboflavin (vitamin B2) is a growth-promoting enzyme found in the vitamin B complex.

Selenium is an essential mineral found in soil and most leafy greens. It is an essential mineral for the immune system and also acts as an antioxidant. Consumption need not exceed 50-60 mg daily.

taurine is a naturally occurring substance in meat and seafood. Generated in the liver, its chief role is to regulate neurological excitement. Its presence in energy drinks is unusually high (as much as 4000mg.) As of yet, research does not indicate any toxic effects from consuming such large does.

yerba mate is a dried leaf from the mate tree, which contains natural stimulants.


In addition to the many flavored "thirst quenchers" Gatorade offers, manufacturers of the drink have recently added a "fitness water" to their repertoire of sports beverages. Propel is a lightly flavored water, fortified with 25% niacin (B3), panothenic acid (B5), vitamins B6, B12, and 100% of the daily recommended closes of vitamins C and E. It is also very low in sugar (about 3 grams per 8 ounce serving.)

Gatorade, on the other hand, contains 6% carbohydrates, sodium, and potassium, but has more sugar. The company mentions that Propel is geared to enhance a person's daily consumption of water, while Gatorade is specifically "formulated for optimal performance" and to "replenish fluids and electrolytes" lost during high endurance activities. Also keep in mind that there exists a Gatorade Energy Drink that is different from the traditional "thirst quencher." This is presently available by special order only.


The Vitamin Water collection is a combination of vapor distilled water, crystalline fructose, citric acid, and electrolytes (calcium, magnesium, and potassium). Drinks containing additional vitamins, minerals and fruit juice are available in eleven different elixirs with revealing names like Rescue, Multi-V, Stress-B, Endurance, Stress-B, Defense, Revive, Endurance, Focus, Essential, Balance, Power-G, and Energy. In addition to a subtle fruit flavor, the beverages are caffeine-free, incredibly refreshing, and full of energy-boosting vitamins and minerals. Each drink averages 40 calories and 9 g of sugar per 8 ounce serving. Of special note is citrus flavored Power-C, which contains 250% vitamin C, 75% chromium, and 25% zinc.

Lemon flavored Defense contains 100% vitamin C, 100mg of echinacea, and 50 mg arabinogalactan. Berry and dragon fruit flavored Multi-V contains 100% of the daily dose of vitamins A, C, and E. Amazingly, much of the recommended daily nutritional requirements can be met simply by drinking a bottle of Vitamin Water.


You might as well inject caffeine intravenously into your arm; at least you'll spare your taste buds. The contents of this energy drink are so controversial that France, Denmark, and Norway have not approved its sale.


Though it sounds a bit threatening, it is actually caffeine-free and loaded with "good stuff." Unfortunately, it is also loaded with sugar, containing 28 g per 8 ounce serving. This citrus-flavored carbonated beverage contains 250% vitamin B6, 100% vitamins C, BI 2, riboflavin, and niacin, 50 mg Siberian ginseng and guarana, and 100 mg bee pollen and taurine.

As a side note, many energy products, especially in pill form, contain ephedrine. This alkaloid is used to treat asthma patients because of its ability to constrict blood vessels. As an effective constrictor, the consumption of ephedrine with alcohol causes much concern. As the heart race increases, it becomes more difficult for the body to pump blood, resulting in the potential for heart failure. Many unknowing fatigued employees wishing to boost their energy may end up very ill or just incredibly uncomfortable.

Many forget that the best and most natural nectar around is good old, plain, and simple water--which few ever drink enough of. Check out the beverages you put into your body--know what ingredients they contain. And most importantly, know what they can and cannot do for you.
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Title Annotation:cooking
Publication:Art Culinaire
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 22, 2002
Previous Article:Lacto-Licious.
Next Article:East meets West. (Industry Spotlight).

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