Monday, November 26, 2012

Energy Drink Fiasco

The Ruiz Family
Christmas Tree- 2012!
With the holiday season in full swing (I finally put my tree up to the left), we are all, including myself, looking for a little extra energy. Whether its decorating your house, buying gifts, baking goodies, or in my case...trying to do all of the above in between being at the hospital..there just never seems to be enough time in the day, more so during this time of the year, then ever. So, what do we do? In my hospital, there is this little jolt of energy called a cafecito..which is basically a shot of caffeine and sugar (and lovingly/jokingly called "Cuban Crack"). Some drink regular american coffee and some of us (yes, I am guilty too) drink energy drinks.  I am a Red Bull generation girl. I admit, I have had my fair share of Red Bulls at 2 am admitting patients to the hospital (hmm..I never grew wings though). BUT, there seems to be a growing and scary trend of highly caffeinated energy drinks that are now being linked to DEATHS!

Dos Cafecitos...yes, they are that small..
Recently, the FDA publicly released an adverse event (AKA bad things happened) report for four popular energy drinks- 5 Hour Energy, Monster Energy, Rockstar Energy and Red Bull. To date, there have been 18 deaths which have been linked to these highly caffeinated energy drinks, 5 deaths to Monster Energy and 13 deaths to 5-Hour Energy. There are federal reports too, that these energy drinks have been linked to over 13,000 ER visits in 2009, that the New York Times first reported.

Let's break down some of the ingredients in these drinks and go over why they may be harmful

Caffeine- Although coffee and green tea (my favorite!) have caffeine, these energy drinks contain caffeine in a concentrated amount. So, as 5 Hour energy may have the amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee, it is so concentrated and easy to get, that a lot of people combine the energy drink with coffee or, even another type of energy drink. An average coffee has approximately 250 mg of caffeine, 5-hour Energy about 200,  Monster Energy 160 (per SERVING), and Red Bull at only 80 (per SERVING). So what does caffeine do to you? Well, besides giving you a higher level of alertness, if can cause nausea, GI upset, fast heart rate and sleep disruptions.

Sugar- Sugar is a carbohydrate that is quickly absorbed by the body for fast energy, so it only makes sense that a lot of these drinks will contain sugar...but how much? Rockstar Energy has a whopping 62 grams of sugar and Monster with 27 grams of sugar. I will say, most companies have no-carb or sugar-free options though, to be fair.
Just a FEW of the Energy Drinks
on the market.

B-Vitamins- This one I can not figure out. First of all, B-vitamins are water-soluble..meaning that whatever you do not use (or whatever your body has excess of) pee out. That's number one. Number two- B-vitamins have to "build-up" if you will, in your having an energy drink with B-vitamins is going to do absolutely nothing for your energy that day.  Also, the B-vitamins by their self do not contain energy..rather, they help to "unlock" the energy in food. The 5-Hour Energy "shot" contains 8,333% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin B-12 and 2,000% of the RDA for vitamin B-6. So, basically you will be peeing out anything over 100% And, I would venture to say that most people in this country who have a somewhat normal nutrition get 100% of these B-vitamins from their normal day-to-day diets.

Taurine- Taurine is an amino acid..AKA a "building block" of the body. There is no proof that it provides any extra energy or mental performance. It also seems that a lot of the studies are controversial or that they contradict each other. Physiologically, taurine supports neurological development and helps to regulate water and mineral salts in the body. 

Here's the kicker...the FDA does not require beverage-marketers to list the naturally-occuring caffeine in these ingredients. So, substances like guarana, coffee bean extract or yerba mate (whatever that is)..which have natural caffeine qualities are not required to calculated...or even listed as caffeine!

This made me laugh..
Who in the world drinks
a beverage named "Bawls"?
So..what do I think? Well, I think it is likely a combination of a lot of things. The problem I see with these highly caffeinated drinks is that they mask fatigue..and likely mask dehydration. Along with dehydration causing health problems (kidney problems, high heart rates just to name a few), the caffeine can add to these problems, having a sort-of compounding effect.

Take home message? Avoid the energy drinks if possible. Sure, a coffee is fine..and you know what? Most likely, an energy drink every once in a while is likely okay too. But why take the chance?  I will say, however, that anyone with heart problems should avoid these beverages all together. I recommend a small snack, like a banana or a handful of nuts for natural energy without the "crash-and burn" effect of tons of sugar. And as always, consult with your doctor before trying any of the products listed here.

Wishing everyone an energy-filled holiday season,

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Lardy Latte

Go on, say it with me.."Lardy Latte"...get it? This is a post that I will likely create some enemies over..that's right. I am going to Menu De-Construct...STARBUCKS!! Noooo!!!
I am just like the rest of you, and sometimes (if not all of the time) I need a morning pick-me-up. But this post has good intentions. Many people do not think of drinks as calories, and in turn, gain a TON of weight just from liquids. So..get ready to be upset, because those peppermint mocha and pumpkin lattes have to is why...(Note...these calories are all listed with the "tall" option..i.e.- the smallest cup).

BAD BAD BAD Options...

All of these "Holiday" options
are just..BAD
1.  Any of the Hot Chocolates. Range from 230-310 (White Hot Chocolate) calories! What?!

2. Jingle Bells..Batman smells...Robin layed a Eggnog Latte at 460 CALORIES!!! No no no...and No.

3. know what? All of the lattes run between about 200-300 let's just drop those all together. I will give you better options later on.

4. The Frappuccinos. It may sound cool to say it..but its definitely not cool when they add a whopping 300-500 calories onto your belly. Gross.

The GOOD News..

"Skinny" or "Light" anything is much much better than its fatty counterpart. A Carmel  Brulee Light Frappuccino runs 180 cal while the normal version runs 300. A skinny latte runs 180 calories while the other is over 300.

I love this cartoon...
a "Skinny" Latte!
Other tips: ALWAYS ask for skim milk and sugar-free syrups if they have them. This alone will slash about 100 calories. Also, try and skip the whipped cream!

And as guys know by now my favorite drink from our favorite coffee chain- Hot Green Tea!! 0 calories...and a plain old cup of regular coffee- 5 calories!

Oh..and bad news. The Pumpkin Latte is 310 calories (BUMMER!).. still not as bad as the peppermint white chocolate mocha at 440...

So, should we stop having our daily Joe? Of course not!! Just make some wiser options!

Shine on,

Saturday, November 3, 2012

All About..What I'm All About

I just thought that I would take this post (I know...I has been a LONG time...) to talk about well, what is important to my professional life. The whole reason I decided to go into cardiology was because I feel that there is a HUGE discrepancy among women and men with regards to heart disease. When polled, more women are afraid of dying of breast cancer (and believe that more women do die of breast cancer) than any other disease.

FACT: More women DIE of heart disease than all cancers COMBINED.

How many women in your life have heart disease?

So, that's where I come in. I want to spread the word. I want to get people educated and put people "in-check"...when it comes to their risk of heart disease. And you know what? It is not just the general public. It is also physicians who do not take some symptoms seriously when it comes to women. We do not always present with the typical "crushing chest pain". A lot of times, we have jaw pain, arm pain, nausea, sweating, or just plain fatigue. We need to be in-tune with our bodies, and we need to start taking our health seriously.

So, what can we do?

Well, first, I encourage everyone to watch this HILARIOUS video, made by the American Heart Association, with Elizabeth get an idea of what some of the symptoms are and what can be done..Here...on YouTube

Second, get a check up with your doctor..and Know Your Numbers...I have mentioned this several times on my here is another link, on where I was published...

You can find a link
for the Red Dress
Lapel pin on

The red dress is a trademark of the U.S. Department 
of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

Third, SPREAD THE WORD! I was lucky enough to be chosen to be the Chair of the 2013 "Girlfriends" Committee for the American Heart Association in South Florida. Our committee's job is to spread the word and awareness of heart disease in women...most every city has a local chapter, and are always looking for good volunteers. The Go Red for Women website has some great ideas on what YOU can do!

Finally..GO RED on February 1st! I will most definitely be mentioning this again when the time comes, but get ready! Our goal down here in South Florida is to paint all of Miami and Ft. Lauderdale red to show awareness...2013 is our 10th year anniversary and we are going to do this right!!

Thank you everyone for the continued support...Let's STOP this #1 killer in women!!

If you would like more information on how you can get involved, contact me @DrTSizemore on Twitter, e-mail or go to