Energy drinks are designed to increase your energy, alertness and concentration. People of all ages eat them and their popularity continues to grow.
But some health officials have warned that energy drinks can have harmful effects, leading many to question their safety. This article weighs the pros and cons of energy drinks in a comprehensive review of health drinks. A growing body of scientific evidence shows that energy drinks can have serious health effects, especially for children, adolescents and young adults.
Some studies have found energy drinks to increase physical endurance, but there is little evidence of an effect on muscle strength or power. Energy drinks can increase alertness and increase reaction time, but can decrease hand stability. Some energy drinks are sold as beverages, while others are marketed as dietary supplements. Both types of products do not have to declare the amount of caffeine on the label.
Energy drinks can improve brain function
One of the most popular is improving mental alertness by improving brain function. Some studies confirm that energy drinks can actually improve brain functions such as memory, concentration and reaction time, and reduce mental fatigue.
Most researchers believe that this increase in brain function can be attributed to caffeine alone, while others suggest that caffeine and sugar should be combined in an energy drink to see maximum benefits.
Energy drinks can help people work harder
On long, late-night road trips, drivers often turn to energy drinks to help them stay alert while behind the wheel.
Several studies using simulated driving have concluded that energy drinks can improve driving quality and reduce sleepiness, even in sleep-deprived drivers. Similarly, many night shift workers use energy drinks to meet the demands of work when they are not sleeping.
While energy drinks can also help keep these workers alert and awake, at least one study has shown that energy drinks can negatively affect the quality of sleep after a shift.
Energy drinks can cause heart problems in some people
One review found that energy drinks are linked to several cases of heart problems that require emergency room visits. Additionally, more than 20,000 trips to the emergency department are related to energy drink use in the United States alone.
In addition, many human studies have shown that energy drink consumption can increase blood pressure and heart rate and reduce important markers of blood vessel function that are harmful to heart health.
Many experts believe that heart problems associated with the consumption of energy drinks are caused by excessive caffeine intake. This seems reasonable, since most people who experience heart attacks after drinking energy drinks drink more than three energy drinks at a time or mix them with alcohol.
Although you should be careful about using energy drinks if you have heart disease, consuming them occasionally and in large amounts is unlikely to cause heart problems in healthy adults without heart disease.
Adding energy drinks with alcohol has serious risks on health
Mixing energy drinks with alcohol has become incredibly popular among young adults and students. However, it represents an important public health concern. The stimulant effects of caffeine in energy drinks can counteract the depressant effects of alcohol. You may experience alcohol-related disorders and become less intoxicated. This combination can be very confusing.
People who drank energy drinks and alcohol reported drinking more alcohol. Also, people who drink and drive are more likely to experience alcohol-related injuries.
Additionally, a study of 403 young Australian adults found that those who drank energy drinks mixed with alcohol were six times more likely to have a heart attack than those who drank alcohol alone.
However, many people and bars continue to mix their own energy drinks with alcohol. For the above reasons, drinking energy drinks mixed with alcohol is not recommended.
Should children or teenagers drink energy drinks?
About 31% of children between the ages of 12-17 regularly drink energy drinks. However, according to recommendations published in 2011 by the American Academy of Pediatrics, energy drinks should not be used by children or adolescents.
They say caffeine in energy drinks puts children and teenagers at risk of becoming dependent or addicted to the substance and can have negative effects on the development of the heart and brain.
Experts have also set caffeine limits for these young people, recommending that teenagers consume no more than 100 mg of caffeine per day and children consume no more than 1.14 mg of caffeine per body weight (2.5 mg/kg) per day.
This is equivalent to about 85 mg of caffeine for a 75 lb (34 kg) child aged 12 years or younger. Depending on the brand and size of the energy drink container, it may not be difficult to follow these caffeine tips for just one can.
Should I drink energy drinks? How many?
Many health concerns focus on caffeinated energy drinks. Importantly, adults are advised to consume no more than 400 mg of caffeine per day.
In addition, some energy drinks also contain plant extracts, such as guarana, a natural source of caffeine that contains about 40 mg of caffeine per gram. Depending on the type and size of your energy drink, it is not difficult to exceed the recommended caffeine intake if you consume several energy drinks in a day.
If you decide to consume energy drinks, limit to 16 ounces (473 ml) of regular energy drinks per day and try to limit other caffeinated drinks to avoid excessive caffeine intake.
5 Side Effects of Energy Drinks
Let’s dive deeper into some of the possible side effects of energy drinks. You might want to think twice before grabbing your next canned fix.
One of the main problems with energy drinks is their ability to boost your body and/or mind. As a result, it can cause sleep disturbances and disrupt circadian rhythms. A 2016 study on obesity found that energy drink consumption and:
- increased sleep
- complaints of headache
These negative effects can lead to lower academic achievement and put adolescents at risk for behavioral and other health problems. If you don’t want to give up energy drinks, at least remember to drink them. To promote a good night’s sleep, experts recommend avoiding caffeine during the day. A study shows that cutting your intake at least six hours before bedtime can help reduce sleep disturbances.
2. Mental health + protective measures
Some studies show that energy drinks can help with mood swings when used chronically. A study found that men in particular showed higher levels of stress after drinking energy drinks. This can be a result of caffeine and the tendency to consume too much of this drink, which is harmful to mental health. After all, consuming too much caffeine in one sitting can lead to more severe withdrawal symptoms. Also, quick, short-term bursts of energy must end at some point. For some, falling below this energy level can have a negative effect on your mood. In addition, many people feel irritable when they are tired, and drinking caffeine can exacerbate these symptoms.
3. Increase in Blood Pressure
Since the main active ingredients in energy drinks are stimulants, regular consumption can put more stress on your cardiovascular system. A study found that teenagers who consume energy drinks experience an increase in blood pressure within two hours of consuming the product. Another study reported similar results in healthy volunteers. Pumping your veins faster or harder will give you more energy, but not without its drawbacks. High blood pressure means your heart has to work harder, so drinking less or less can help prevent this extra strain on your body.
4. Physiological Appearance
One phenomenon is that energy drink users tend to become addicted. Some people start with an energy drink or two when they feel tired. Finally, they may depend on caffeine to get through the day. This can create a cycle of poor sleep habits that lead to an unhealthy dependence on energy drinks. Unfortunately, this drink only offers short-term relief from energy spikes. If this pattern continues, more energy drinks may be needed to produce the desired effect. This can have following bad effects:
- caffeine poisoning
- liver problem
- overweight (due to excessive sugar intake)
To avoid these side effects, it is better to drink energy drinks as often as possible.
5. The Right Problem
Most energy drinks offer sugar-free versions made with sugar alcohols or other alternatives. However, some contain large amounts of added sugar, often like soda. These high amounts of sugar or sugar alcohols can disrupt the gut microbiome. (As a cleanser, the gut microbiome consists of “good bacteria” in your stomach and intestines. While this research does not provide specific information about the type of trigger, it is safe to conclude that this trigger can lead to inflammation and related problems: Maintaining gut health supporting a healthy immune system, mood, is a key to digestion and hormone function, so it’s wise to avoid excessive energy drinks to maintain optimal bowel function.
Health benefits of energy drinks
Because of their many disadvantages and many alternatives, you may want to avoid energy drinks altogether. Here are some ideas for healthy alternatives that will help you stay strong and get through all the challenges that come your way.
Energy Forum Supplement
Alternatives to energy drinks can be found in some supplements. It also contains adaptogens that fight stress and tension, such as rhodiola rosea and ashwagandha. Rather than making your body work harder, these vitamins and herbs work to enhance your body’s natural processes.
Green tea contains 45 milligrams of caffeine per cup, compared to 90 to 100 milligrams of coffee. However, energy drinks have 50-500 milligrams per serving! Some people report that green tea provides more sustained energy than coffee. This may be due to L-the anine in green tea, which can have a calming effect and promote sustained energy. So you get extra attention without the caffeine! In addition, green tea is a powerful source of antioxidants. This protects your body from damage to the skin and other organs caused by UV rays, air pollution, and other free radical damage. All in all, green tea wins on the board.
The best energy comes from good food. The next time you stop at a convenience store that usually carries an energy drink, choose a protein bar with at least five grams of protein. A balance of carbs and protein will give you energy and won’t make you fall back like caffeine does. Also, snacks with little (or no) added sugar are ideal, but try to keep it under 10 grams. If you cannot have protein bar, then have this:
- bean oil
- cheese + apple or mandarin orange
- trail mix (note: a version without M&Ms or other sweets will be more balanced)
Did you know that dehydration can lower your energy levels? Drinking plenty of water throughout the day will keep you moving because you’ll be going to the bathroom more often. In general, adults should aim to drink half their body weight in one ounce of water each day.
Energy drinks have grown in popularity over the past decade, and sales aren’t likely to slow down anytime soon. However, despite the seemingly healthy claims, science supports avoiding them whenever possible. In general, there are good alternatives to energy drinks, which make it easier to stay healthy. Staying hydrated and eating regular meals and healthy meals, a balance between them will give you the best energy to keep you going.
Caffeine consumption can be associated with anxiety, sleepiness, indigestion, and dehydration.
Guarana, which is often found in energy drinks, contains caffeine. Therefore, the addition of guarana increases the caffeine content of all drinks.
People who combine caffeinated drinks with alcohol may not be able to tell how drunk they are; they may feel drunk if they do not consume caffeine. Excessive consumption of energy drinks can disrupt sleep in adolescents and may be associated with increased risk-taking behavior.
One 16-oz. energy drinks can contain 54-62 grams of added sugar; This is more than the recommended amount of added sugar in a day.