Why You Should Beware of Energy Drinks

Energy drinks promise increased energy but at what cost?

Credit: Flickr/Simon le Nippon

Energy drinks are not the healthiest way to boost your energy

Consumption of energy drinks has skyrocketed since they were first introduced in the late 1990s

People are guzzling these drinks like water, which is too bad for their health because they’d be better off actually drinking water.

Energy drinks promote special ingredients as the secret to their energy boosting powers, but in reality the energy shot in these beverages comes from two sources: caffeine and sugar.

Research suggests sugar-free variations of energy drinks don’t provide the same kick as the sugar-laden versions. But most people already overconsume sugar, so getting a pick-me-up by adding more to your diet really isn’t the best solution.

Both sugar-free and sugared versions of energy drinks may slightly improve reaction time. So if your job calls for lightening quick reflexes, such as a snake catcher, there may be a use for these drinks.

Caffeine in Energy Drinks

Whereas caffeine is found naturally in foods like coffee and tea, the levels in many energy drinks are excessive. A cup of coffee may contain about 100 mg of caffeine while typical energy drinks contain between 50 – 500 mg. Just thinking about that makes me jittery.

People will metabolize caffeine at different rates depending on a gene in their livers. If you happen to process caffeine quickly, then it probably won’t be detrimental to your health. However, it’s a different story if you process caffeine slowly.

In addition, real food like coffee and tea also contain phytochemicals, antioxidants and other compounds that are beneficial to your health. But unlike real food in which the ingredients work together synergistically, man-made concoctions often fall short in their attempt to blend supposedly beneficial ingredients.

Energy Drink Special Ingredients

Many energy drinks add amino acids, vitamins, minerals or other compounds to their proprietary blends to promote vitality. However the research is pretty clear these extra ingredients don’t provide any health benefits. Either the amounts are too small to do good or the body simply expels them. Given the cost of these drinks that means very expensive pee.

In addition, most of these drinks have artificial colours and flavours added to them. You don’t need a graduate degree in nutrition to know these aren’t the best thing for your health.

Energy Drinks and Alcohol

Combining energy drinks and alcohol has also risen in popularity. These drinks may mask symptoms of being drunk so this is simply a recipe for dumb and dumber.

It can also lead to an irregular heart beat and increase your stress hormones. I think doing interval training or a kick ass strength workout is a much healthier alternative to give your cardiovascular and endocrine systems a boost.  

The following video really captures the hype behind energy drinks.

My advice, don’t believe the hype! If you want some caffeine, drink quality coffee or tea. You’ll get both an energy boost and a health boost, naturally.