Neera could be the next big energy drink for athletes. A Mangalore-based swimming academy coach has already started recommending it to his students.

Coach and founder of Varanashi Swimming Academy in Bantwal of Dakshina Kannada Partha Varanashi said that Neera is the future of energy drinks.

“With the Glycemic Index (GI) of 35 (lower than brown bread-50 and sugary food-120) this tasty drink helps in the sustained delivery of glycogen to muscles through blood,” Varanashi told Bangalore Mirror.

Neera is the sap extracted from toddy palms, and the process is performed before sunrise. Neera has a high amount of sucrose, protein and total ash. Neera goes through natural fermentation within hours of its extraction and becomes toddy, which contains 4 percent alcohol.

The Central Food Technological Research Institute developed a technology to preserve Neera for two months, and the government plans to promote Neera as an energy drink with medicinal value, packaged in sachets and bottles. The state government has also set up Neera Board to develop and promote neera.

However, some are sceptical about the method. Raghavendra Kumar, a former national level swimmer, said, “Neera is consumed before sunrise or early morning. Once the sun is out, it ferments quickly and turns into an alcoholic drink. Although Neera is good for one’s health, it reduces the heat in the body. This decreases one's energy. In swimming, we are suggested to eat grams, banana and fruit juices for energy. These too are naturally available.”

While Neera is considered a healthy drink its usefulness for athletes is debatable.