The Negative Effects of Energy Drinks: Some Facts and Figures
Energy drinks could be spotted in every high school in the mid to late 2010s, on every college campus, and even in the gym. Their slogans implied that they were healthy and empowering, but is that actually true? Are energy drinks good for you, or do they have negative side effects?
While the energy drink craze has died down slightly, there are still plenty of artificial, caffeine-pumped, carbonated beverages on the market claiming to have extra nutritional value or benefits.
If they're making all of these claims, what are the negative effects of energy drinks?
Keep reading to learn a few facts and statistics about some of the more popular energy drinks and the effects that they can have on the body, especially when consumed in excess.
Let's Talk About Caffeine
To be clear, caffeine itself isn't necessarily an issue when consumed responsibly by healthy adults. A healthy adult can consume about 400 mg of caffeine per day. That said, there are other factors involved in this consumption that include genetics, weight, overall health, activity levels, and others.
If you want to be loading up on your caffeinated drinks, it might be good to start slow and see what you can handle. You can definitely consume too much caffeine.
Children, though, can't really handle caffeine at all. It was never super fashionable to give children and young teens coffee before the days of frothy whipped cream concoctions at chain cafes, so why are they suddenly getting access to energy drinks?
Energy drinks currently are being promoted by popular online gamers and esports competitions. While the majority of the viewership is adult, there are children watching these gaming sessions where caffeine is being consumed only for the consumer to sit and play games.
Is this more problematic than previous sponsorships of extreme sports competitions where at least the consumer was being active? It's unclear.
Caffeine is addictive and can cause high blood pressure and even potential muscle breakdown when consumed in excess by bodies that aren't used to it. These energy drinks with child-friendly marketing are dangerous!
Caffeine in excess can also cause anxiety and shakiness, making it a bad choice for anyone suffering from anxiety or anyone taking certain psychiatric medications.
What About Sugar?
There are sugar-free energy drinks, in all fairness to these companies. Many energy drinks, though, are full of sugar. The negative side effects of energy drinks in this section are based on those.
An average can of popular energy drinks (that aren't of the sugar-free variety) can contain 60 grams of sugar. These cans are single servings and are clearly made to consume in one sitting.
60 grams of sugar is more than twice the daily recommended amount of sugar for an entire day (for women; for men it's slightly less than twice the amount). While we do tend to love our sugars, having twice of our allotted amount in a single drink not only limits the rest of the day, it's also incredibly unhealthy.
For reference, 25 grams, the daily allotted amount for women, is 6 teaspoons. How many teaspoons of sugar are in your drink?
Drinking too much sugar can result in weight gain, heart disease, tooth decay, certain forms of cancer, and type 2 diabetes.
All of these conditions (when triggered by sugar consumption) are entirely avoidable. When one drink contains enough sugar to double your daily recommended amount, you're consuming too much.
It's also not statistically insignificant that some people consume (or have consumed) more than one of these drinks per day, doubling (or tripling) the sugar content.
What About the Nutritional Benefits?
Some energy drinks claim to be dietary supplements to help drive the athlete audience to their products.
Ginseng, for example, is a popular addition to many energy drinks. It's added to labels to make it look healthy and medicinal.
While ginseng is an antioxidant, its health benefits are about on par with common fruits, like blueberries. It doesn't undo the damage being done by the sugar and excess caffeine in the energy drink.
Guarana and taurine are also common ingredients in energy drinks. Guarana is thought to be a natural caffeine source, but one that's not required to be listed on ingredient labels as per FDA standards. This means that the caffeine on the label could be inaccurate (and far less than what you're actually consuming).
Taurine is an amino acid, but there's actually very little known about it as far as any long term health effects, benefits, or detriments. It's beneficial largely in name alone and based on studies that still require more research.
Overall, energy drinks are marketed as supplements but are really just sugary caffeine drinks.
In Summary: The Negative Effects of Energy Drinks
These drinks are loaded with random ingredients and chemicals marketed as nutritional supplements. The caffeine content ranges from the amount found in an average cup of coffee to the daily recommended amount for an entire day, making them dangerous to the consumer who isn't adjusted to caffeine.
The caffeine can induce anxiety, heart palpitations, jitteriness, insomnia, and other physical and psychological issues.
They're often loaded with more than enough sugar for a single day and that sugar consumption can, over time, lead to type 2 diabetes, obesity, tooth decay, and more.
Energy drinks, when consumed in excess, can be dangerous.
If You Need a Boost, Try Something Else
If you're feeling a little sluggish in the morning or you hit that mid-day lull in energy, consider skipping the glorified soda and try something else. There are natural energy boosters that you can do at home, or you can try a more gentle caffeinated product.
While those fizzy caffeine bombs are okay once in a while, the negative effects of energy drinks can't really be dismissed. If you need a regular caffeine pick-me-up that doesn't send your heart racing, try one of our products. For more information, or to try a gentler caffeine option for yourself, check us out.