Many young adults (18-35 y/o range) can be seen walking around holding a can of pure caffeine and sugar. More often than not these cans contain more than one serving and who really drinks only half a can? What is this doing to your health and could it have long term consequences?
Read on to find out!
Here is why I think energy drinks are a bad idea.
You want to work out but are tired and need some motivation and energy so you take an energy drink
This can be deadly, especially if you are under a great deal of stress or have high blood pressure.
The number of hospital visits related to energy drinks has doubled from 2007-2011.
It can make your heart race, cause palpitations, and increase you blood pressure and even lead to seizures and heart attacks.
You don’t need that much sugar before you work- out. An energy drink serving can have up to 10 teaspoons of sugar (40 grams). Opt for a natural source of sugar and energy instead-have a banana or handful or grapes.
Instead of coffee just drink an energy drink or energy shot, right?
Wrong! One leading brand of energy drink shots tops out at 570 mg. of caffeine. This is way too much caffeine for your body to handle, especially in one large gulp!
This much caffeine can lead to severe adrenal depletion. This sets you up for a vicious cycle of that leads to more fatigue which means you need more and more caffeine to get through the day. If you are this low on energy and need this much caffeine it is time to look at root causes instead of managing your symptoms.
The amount of caffeine in common energy drinks is 5 times the amount in a cup of coffee and 10 times the amount in a serving of soda.
However, if you do want to start reducing your caffeine intake, don’t go cold turkey. You will end up with terrible withdrawal effects from your daily habit. Instead wean off slowly such as pouring a little bit out of each can you drink and every few days pouring out a little more. If you go cold turkey you will end up with terrible headaches and brain fog for several days.
If you need this much caffeine, ask yourself why? Usually if you are using caffeine as a crutch there is an underlying issue that needs to be addressed. While a picture on one website for energy drinks would have you thinking it is normal for everyone to have a 3o’clock slump and need a pick me up, this is not normal to need caffeine to get through each and every day.
But the label says it has all these herbs and vitamins and amino acids in it so it must be healthy for me!
Sorry there is no nutritional value in a sugary, caffeinated beverage. Don’t be fooled by the marketing! Energy drinks are actually labeled as dietary supplements but they are anything but that. It is estimated that sales of Energy drinks in the US have brought them a market worth 12.5 billion and sales of these harmful drinks continues to grow.
There have been cases of teenagers dying from the effects of too much consumption and it caused them to go into cardiac arrest. So ask yourself, it is worth it?
Yes, I know it mentions all these herbs it contains. Most likely the herbs are in very small quantities and not in the right forms to provide you with any benefit. If you are looking for the benefits of the herbs then work with a nutrition/herb professional who can provide you with the best herbs for you and in the right forms. Herbs can also interact with medications so always work with a professional when ingesting herbs.
The same applies to the vitamin and amino acids. The odds are they are using very poor quality forms which are difficult for the body to absorb. And if you are only absorbing a very small amount then the odds are the benefits from them are doing you no good. Get your supplements from natural food sources instead.
Can I substitute my morning smoothie with an energy drink?
You can if you want to stay on the viscous cycle of being wired and tired all the time and continue to destroy your health over time.
If your usual smoothie is loaded with fruit then it may be better than an energy drink but still not a great choice. Don’t start your day with sugar. Instead make a protein veggie smoothie. For instance, water, protein powder, ¼ of an avocado, ¼ of a frozen banana, large handfuls of dark leafy greens, tablespoon of hemp seeds and/or nut butter. You want energy-give your body what it really needs. It does not need caffeine and sugar. If you think it does, then your body is trying to tell you something! Listen to it.
Pros and cons of drinking energy drinks
Pros: None I can think of. I wish they didn’t even exist.
Dangerous when combined with alcohol or stimulants such as ADHD meds (Adderall, Ritalin)
There is little scientific evidence that their “proprietary formulas” give someone a physical and/or mental edge.
Heart attacks, strokes
8-11% of those who are caffeine dependent show signs of depression
High blood pressure
No nutritional value-empty calories, takes place of nutrient dense foods
The caffeine inhibits the activity of folate, B6 and B12
It can cause death
The acids in the drinks can lead to tooth destruction, damage enamel, cause stomach damage, osteoporosis and bone fractures
If it contains artificial sugar: this can lead to overconsumption as your brain is waiting for the calories to come along with the sweet taste and leads you to crave more sugar.
Disrupts your gut flora (this alone is a major concern for mental, physical and immune health!)
leads to low serotonin levels (mood issues, depression)
Reduces cortisol levels (which can cause weakness, fatigue, anxiety, heart palpitations, depression, unable to cope with stress)
So as you can see, that energy drink to help you get through the day is not helping you but rather hurting you. Zero pros to drinking them, 21 cons to drinking them; the choice is yours.
Andrews, R. (nd) All about energy drinks. http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-energy-drinks.
Greenfield, B. (7/09) I don’t approve of Energy drinks.