Energy Drinks: Good or Bad?

by in Healthy Tips, April 4, 2012

energy drinks
Not to be confused with sports drinks, these trendy beverages are a dangerous mix of sugar, chemicals and stimulants. We won’t keep you in suspense – they’re no good!

Why They Look Good
The promise of popping open a can and slurping immediate energy sure is appealing. Too bad it’s too good to be true. With names like Rocktstar, Monster, Red Bull and Amp they appeal to adolescents, college students and anyone who could use a boost. Celebrity endorsements and sponsorship of athletic teams also adds to the appeal. Flashy packaging and the fact that you can buy them at any grocery store or gas station further leads consumers to believe that they must be safe.

Why They’re Really Bad
The dangers about these drinks are real. Such as this tragic story where drinking 2 energy drinks in a day was suspected to contribute to the death of a 14 year old girl.

Energy drinks are sold as dietary supplements, not beverages. This means that they aren’t subject to the same scrutinizing safety standards as food and drinks.

At best these drinks are too high in sugar, which is no good for your waistline. The calorie free versions (full of artificial sweeteners) are also a joke – how can something with no calories give you energy?

It’s easy to confuse a stimulant boost with “energy.” The major difference is – energy is real fuel, and stimulants only have a short-lived effect on your heart rate.

Aside from all those sugary calories, side effects of drinking energy drinks include increased anxiety and dehydration. Here are just a few of the potentially dangerous ingredients:

  • Caffeine: Can cause increased heart rate, anxiety, upset stomach and dehydration – many drinks have 2 to 5 times more caffeine than a cup of coffee.
  • Guarana: A caffeine-like product that compounds the stimulant effect.
  • Taurine: Promoted to help with focus, taurine, may have a sedative effect. Used to treat high blood pressure and congestive heart failure– very little is known about the safety of high-dose or long-term use.

It’s also become trendy to mix energy drinks with alcohol; this creates a dangerous combination of “uppers” and “downers” that may result in dangerous cardiovascular and neurological side effects.

Tell Us: Do you drink energy drinks?

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Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana’s full bio »

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Comments (1,985)

  1. blah says:

    lol I have a Monster Rehab in the fridge… I'm a health nut but used to drink energy drinks like crazy in my teens. I'm 23 now and have border-line professional athlete's diet. I always look deeply into ingredients on the label, and on Monster Rehab, I'm not really finding reasons that it is bad for me.

    Everything this article said is bullshit too. Caffeine bad? Nope, many benefits including improved athletic performance. Too much caffeine is bad; of course it depends on age/weight/height etc but when you start hitting around 200mg it starts getting sketchy. This monster only has 158mg which is equivalent to about 2 cups of coffee.

    Too much sugar? This monster i have is only 8g of sugar. That's next to nothing.

    Saying Guarana is bad because it compounds stimuli effect doesn't make sense. That just means the energy drink is effective in its purpose. I can't say eating steak & potatoes is bad because the amino acids have a compounding effect, resulting in a complimenting/compounding effect of branched chain amino acids. If the compounding effect is bad, you have to state why; not just say it is bad because it compounds.

    Then you talk about mixing energy drinks with alcohol… Why are you even mentioning this. The article is about energy drinks. Mixing water with arsenic is most likely bad for you. Does that mean that water automatically becomes bad? It's like saying BBQ get-togethers are bad because people end up drinking alcohol. Alcohol has negative effects so now we have to outlaw BBQ's LOL WTF?!

    Oh and stating an extremely rare death to support your position is just shitty journalism. How many people die from energy drinks lets be honest. It's an extremely small number and there are always other factors involved. Some lady died on a radio show contest from drinking too much water. WE MUST OUTLAW WATER NOW!

    Caffeine causes dehydration!! OH NO. That's because your system is working harder and faster. Your heart is pumping harder. Your brain is working faster. That's the whole point of the ENERGY drink! Obviously if your body is working harder, your cells will use more water. Simple solution? DRINK MORE WATER DURR. You know what else makes you dehydrated? Exercise. Your body gets extremely pumped and fatigued from the hard work of exercise. Using your logic, we must now avoid exercise because it makes you dehydrated.

    There's more shit wrong with this too but I'm going to stop here. I've typed enough. By the way, I'm totally open to the idea of Energy Drinks being bad for you. In fact, i can spot a horrible one beside a good one in the same fridge. A little common sense and you can avoid most of these bad apples. But if there's one thing that pisses me off, it's bad sources/misinformation/fear mongering. Shame on this article.

  2. [...] bottles and cans of energy drinks are nothing but sugar water plus lots of supplemental vitamins and minerals. The beverages are also [...]

  3. [...] bottles and cans of energy drinks are nothing but sugar water plus lots of supplemental vitamins and minerals. The beverages are also [...]

  4. The Absent Game…

    Among me and my husband we have owned a lot more MP3 players through the years than I can count, together with Sansas, iRivers, iPods (typical & touch), the Ibiza Rhapsody, etc. But, the last few a long time I’ve settled down to one line of players….

  5. Susan says:

    Try Spark!! Advocare products, 20 years running. You have the healthy ingredients, extra energy that is not a jolt, and it helps you focus to boot!

  6. bubblegum casting says:

    facts are facts they are bad

  7. The Ships’s Voyages…

    I believe technological know-how just makes it even worse. Now there’s a channel to hardly ever care, now there won’t be considered a prospect for them to find….

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