Are Energy Drinks Bad For You?
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Are Energy Drinks Bad For You?
At one caffeine twitching point or another you’ve probably found yourself asking: are energy drinks bad for you? Let me guess…
It’s another busy day, tons of work to do, everything is hectic. You start feeling drained and sleepy. You can barely keep your eyes open. But, you simply can’t afford a nap, you have to finish your tasks.
So, you consider your options, you can either take a cup of coffee or take an energy drink. Both have the same ingredient, the magical chemical that keeps us wide awake: caffeine.
If you’re really exhausted or planning on exercising, you opt for an energy drink, because it’s more powerful and seems to be designed for athletes. You feel a burst of energy, gradually your mind and body start awakening and you’re ready to tick off all the stuff on your to-do list.
We’ve all been there.
Using energy drinks as a quick-fix. Have you ever stopped to think about the possible side effects of continuous use? Are you even aware of the adverse effects?
Are energy drinks bad for you?: What’s In Your Energy Drink?
First, let’s take a look at the ingredients and their effect on the body. There are many types of sports and energy drinks with different ingredients. However, the most common ingredients include:
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin B3
These are essential for your body. There are 8 different types of B vitamins and each has a unique and important role.
For example, Vitamin B12 is important for DNA synthesis, the formation of red blood cells and for optimal nervous system function.
Although energy drinks contain these vitamins, most people don’t suffer from vitamin B deficiency and they don’t need an additional source of this nutrient. Instead of consuming energy drinks containing B12, you should consume B12-rich food, like milk, eggs and meat. If you’re on a vegan or a vegetarian diet, you may benefit from a vitamin B12 supplement.
Caffeine is a central nervous stimulant. It has both positive and negative effects depending on the dose. The dose makes the poison.
If you drink coffee moderately you can reap the benefits. Drink too much, and you’ll experience the adverse effects.
Recent studies show that people who drink coffee moderately have a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s disease and type 2 diabetes.
You should avoid consuming more than 400 milligrams of caffeine per day if you don’t want to experience the side effects. That’s the equivalent of four cups of coffee. If you drink too much caffeine it can lead to anxiety, insomnia, headaches and arrhythmia.
When it comes to energy drinks, things get complicated. The amount of caffeine varies greatly. It can be as low as 6 milligrams and as high as 240 milligrams.
The regulations for labelling energy drinks aren’t as strict as they should be. There have been several deaths after consuming too many energy drinks. Some companies don’t label their products appropriately and don’t always list the amount of caffeine which may lead to serious consequences.
Taurine is a sulfonic acid which is important for maintaining organ and cell functions and it is an antioxidant. Its name comes from the Latin word taurus which means ox or bull because it was first found in the ox bile in the 19th century.
Taurine is an essential acid, and it’s present in our body: in the heart, retina and skeletal muscles. Our bodies can synthesize taurine from sulfur-containing amino acids, such as methionine and cysteine. The main sources of taurine are meat, fish and dairy products. If you follow a strict vegetarian or vegan diet, you can take a synthetic supplement, instead.
The optimal daily intake is between 500-2000mg per day. You shouldn’t consume more than 3g daily. Scientists haven’t yet determined the effects of continuously consuming amounts higher than 3mg.
DoesTaurine influence the answer to the question -are energy drinks bad for you? The FDA considers taurine as generally safe. However, it’s better to avoid obtaining it from energy drinks, because they have other ingredients which could be potentially harmful.
Taurine is a nervous system depressant, unlike caffeine which acts as a stimulant. That’s why it is added to energy drinks, to reduce possible anxiety caused by too much caffeine.
Taurine is beneficial for some conditions, and it has the following positive health effects:
- Good for diabetes (Taurine lowers blood sugar levels and improves insulin sensitivity)
- Good for your heart (There is a link between higher taurine levels and a reduced risk of heart disease since it lowers cholesterol and blood pressure)
- May improve athletic performance
Taurine and Athletic Performance
We’re going to stop for a second and pay closer attention to taurin’s athletic performance enhancing properties.
One study suggests that taurine significantly improves endurance time. In this experiment, the subjects who took an energy drink containing taurine had a much better endurance, because of the positive hormonal response caused by taurine.
To sum up, taurine is safe, it has many advantages and it’s crucial for your overall health and athletic performance. Since your body produces it naturally and you can easily get it either from natural sources (the good old meat and dairy) or synthetic supplements, there is no need to consume energy drinks just because of taurine.
This is a plant that is commonly found in Brazil and Venezuela. It’s often used as an essential ingredient in energy drinks because it’s packed with caffeine. In fact, guarana seeds contain twice as much caffeine compared to coffee beans!
Knowing this, it becomes obvious that too much of guarana extract can cause the same side-effects as too much coffee.
Guarana has some positive effects, such as enhancing mental performance and improving weight loss by burning fat.
However, if you consume guarana, you have to be careful. Large dosage can cause mild to moderate side-effects such as nervousness and restlessness, nausea, vomiting, increased heart rate, rapid breathing, headache and irregular heart beats.
People with certain medical conditions (diabetics, people with anxiety, people with glaucoma) should avoid guarana or limit its consumption to a minimum.
Ginseng has been used to treat various diseases. There are different types of this plant, and each is used for a specific purpose. Alleged health benefits include:
- improves energy levels
- alleviates stress
- enhances memory
- boosts the immune system
So, Ginseng might really help to sway the argument for safety when answering the question – are energy drinks bad for you? However, the FDA has not approved medicinal use of ginseng, and there is little scientific evidence for the alleged benefits. With this in mind, you should also consider the possible side effects caused by a prolonged consumption:
- digestive problems
- adverse effects with certain medications (warfarin, imatinib, lamotrigine)
All in all, there is no conclusive proof that ginseng can treat certain medical conditions. There is no evidence that it’s beneficial to your health and it’s not essential to your diet, so you can just skip it.
We all know that sugar isn’t good for our health. Too much sugar in your diet can cause a variety of health problems.
It’s not good for your brain since it releases huge amounts of dopamine (the happiness molecule). That’s the reason why you feel great when you eat chocolate or other sweet goods. Unfortunately, it has a vicious side, too. When your brain gets accustomed to the amount of dopamine, it starts craving more and more to get the same pleasure. That’s how you end up being addicted to sugary food.
It’s bad for your teeth, joints, heart, liver and the list goes on and on.
So, are there any good things regarding sugar that can influence the debate- are energy drinks bad for you? Are there any health benefits of sugar? Only if it comes in the natural form. If it comes from fruits and vegetables you don’t have to worry too much. The carbs and sugars in fruits and veggies are your energy source. Plus, you get all the important vitamins and minerals!
Energy drinks are packed with refined sugar and will give you an instant boost. But, this comes with a price. Energy drinks cause a massive spike (up to 25%) in blood sugar levels and they are dangerous for teens because they can lead to insulin resistance and eventually to type 2 diabetes.
Are Energy Drinks Bad For You With Alcohol?
AVOID MIXING ENERGY DRINKS WITH ALCOHOL!
Are energy drinks bad for you if you mix them with alcohol?
Vodka & Red Bull, Jäger bombs etc….
Well, they drastically increase the chance for the adverse effects to happen…
If you mix alcohol with energy drinks, you will likely feel less drunk, because the stimulant in the energy drink (caffeine) masks the depressant effect of alcohol. When this happens, a person will fail to notice the increased amount of alcohol in their blood which can lead to alcohol intoxication.
There is a greater likelihood that someone who mixes these drinks will experience more severe consequences (more severe hangover, increased heart rate, dizziness, heart palpitations and disturbed sleep).
Are Energy Drinks Bad For You? Conclusion
Better alternatives to energy drinks
Instead of chugging “instant energy boosts“, you should identify and address the underlying cause of your exhaustion.
Do you get enough of sleep?
How often do you eat healthily?
Do you exercise enough?
Do you have any medical condition which makes you tired?
Answer honestly and you will likely become aware of your bad habits. Your goal should be to implement the good habits long term, rather than just to find a quick fix to your problem.
When you regulate your sleep and your diet, you will gain more energy throughout the day and you won’t need caffeine to keep you awake.
Of course, if you are an otherwise healthy individual, an occasional energy drink won’t harm you, it can give you just enough energy to survive the day or kill a workout. Nonetheless, you shouldn’t rely on it all the time as it can have a negative effect on your overall health and wellbeing.
Final thoughts to answer the question – are energy drinks bad for you? Switch the energy drinks with whole foods or high-quality supplements and your body and mind will be grateful!
Are Energy Drinks Bad For You Sources:
Jovana is a sports journalist and an avid gym goer. She has three years of experience in the fitness and health niche. Although she is primarily a philologist, she is a true nerdy gym freak and enjoys learning about fitness and nutrition, with a particular interest in biomechanics. Jovana speaks five languages (so far, her ultimate goal is to speak at least seven): Serbian, English, Italian, Norwegian and Swedish. When she’s not pumping iron or engaging in gym debates about supplements, she likes to read science fiction and horror novels. Her favorite writer is Edgar Allan Poe.