Energy Drinks – To Drink or Not to Drink?

Nicole Palmieri, who is currently studying Dietetics at the University of Dayton, shared with Healthy Lombard that…

In today’s culture, it is common for teenagers and adults to be wired on energy drinks to get out of bed, make it to the gym, or barrel through the strenuous workday that lies ahead. No matter how tiresome one is, energy drinks seem to be the new morning coffee ritual. How do these drinks affect our bodies, though? Should we be consuming them so routinely, or is it unthinkable to imagine what our day would feel like without them?

 

The Pros

Drinks like Monster, Alani Nu, Celsius, and Red Bull definitely live up to their name of “energy drinks.” They contain anywhere from 85 to over 500 milligrams of caffeine per can. That intense amount of caffeine is sure to keep the consumer awake and alert, reducing fatigue and improving concentration. Later, we will discuss the harmful effects of this much caffeine, though.

Marketing tends to cater to athletes who can take a sip of these energy drinks and be empowered to complete their training or workout circuit. There are many advertisements that appeal to increasing one’s performance by consuming their energy drinks. There is not enough evidence to support this, but some of these drinks contain B vitamins, which are beneficial for our body’s cell development and converting food into energy.

The Cons

Energy drinks have more than just “energy” in them. They contain a ton of sugar as well as artificial and natural flavors. One can of Monster has 27 grams of sugar per 8 fl. oz. However, each can has 16 fl. oz., so drinking the whole can provides 54 grams of sugar! To put this into perspective, The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting added sugars to less than 10% of calories per day, which would be 200 calories, or 48 grams of sugar, for a 2,000-calorie diet. All of one’s sugar intake (if they are on a 2,000-calorie diet) and then some would be spent on one can of Monster.

Energy drinks have a long list of ingredients, most of which are artificial and natural flavors, as well as harsh chemicals. Due to a low amount of FDA testing and laws, many of the ingredients in these cans are not regulated. Common ingredients in energy drinks include taurine, guarana, and glucuronolactone, most of which remain a mystery for their long-term damage to our health.

Lastly, the intensely high amount of caffeine in these drinks is not healthy for our bodies in the long run. Consuming energy drinks as a ritual each day before a workout or at work as a “pick-me-up” can lead to high blood pressure, dehydration, heart disease, insomnia, increased anxiety, and more, as stated by Mayo Clinic.

 

All in all, an energy drink occasionally will likely not cause serious harm, but overconsumption can lead to more serious long-term effects, especially if one has an underlying medical condition. As with many habits in life when it comes to your health, everything in moderation is key. Next time you are tempted to pop the tab of your favorite energy drink, consider if you really need it, or if you can put it away and use your natural energy and a bottle of water to propel your day!

 

References:

  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/sugar-challenge/faq-20322776
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2966367/#.
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/caffeine/art-20045678

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/energy-drinks/

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