We’ve all had one at some point in our lives. Some people chug them down like they would a bottle of water, some drink them on a night out, some use them to get through a stressful day. But, are these “energy boosting” drinks all they’re cracked up to be, or are they something to be avoided?
I remember when my husband and I moved into our second home. We did the move ourselves, hiring a van and working from dawn to midnight (I wish it was dusk). We only had three days to move and we were emptying a three bedroom detached property that required multiple trips to the new house along with multiple trips to the tip. It was definitely a hard slog. My husband had recently come across the Red Bull energy drink and he raved about it. “Oh my god Jo, this is amazing”. He’d then continue to spew out all the amazing effects these drinks were having on him, like feeling more awake, getting more done etc…
Anyway, the first two days were just so tough. Our son was only three years old, so still, very much dependant on us and I was starting to flag. So, what did I do?! I tried one of these “energy-boosting”, crazy coloured drinks.
How did I feel?!
Well, all I can remember is feeling like my eyes had been prized open with sticks, and those sticks were still remaining in my eyelids. My heart was racing, like an anxiety attack or palpitation, and my legs were very shaky. It was an odd sensation. Don’t get me wrong, I got a lot done but I couldn’t help think if a mushroom coffee might have had the same outcome without the horrid side effects. I knew that was my lot. No more energy drinks for me. My thinking is… anything that can make your body behave like that, cannot be good for you.
So what do we know about them?
So they’re advertised as having numerous benefits including, boosting the immune system, enhancing performance, and creating a “buzz” or a “high”…
Now let’s be clear, an energy drink is different to a sports drink. And to point out, I have seen people carrying round monster energy drinks in the gym!!
Sports drinks are there to aid rehydration. Energy drinks don’t and there doesn’t appear to be anything else they actually do which is good for the body.
Let’s take a look at the key ingredients in an energy drink
The problem with energy drinks is that their caffeine levels are much higher than what you’d find in a normal soft drink or even a Starbucks coffee. The Centre of Excellence published an article stating the caffeine amounts found in some of the most popular food and drink. A medium 16 oz Starbucks latte contains 150mg of caffeine, a 20oz can of Pepsi contains 63mg and 8oz can of Red Bull contains 80mg. The crazy statistic is that you’re able to purchase things called energy shots. The most popular is the 5-hour energy shot. It’s serving size is only 2oz but it has a staggering 200mg of caffeine. You’d literally be flying off the ceiling! I’ve never met anyone who has done one of these but if you have, please tell me what it was like in the comments below.
The other issue is that caffeine is a stimulant to the nervous system which means too much can cause mild dependancies. But, caffeine doesn’t threaten your physical, social, or economic health the way addictive drugs do. (Although after seeing your monthly spending at the coffee shop, you might disagree!). Funnily enough, I made a pact today that I’d stop buying a Costa Coffee in the morning… I’ll need to take a bank loan out soon with the amount I’ve spent.
You’ll also find that coming away from coffee abruptly, can cause some nasty side effects:
- Depressed mood
Taurine is an amino acid that is naturally created in the body, however for the energy drinks, it’s manufactured in huge quantities. In natural terms, it helps regulate the heartbeat, muscle contractions and energy levels. In most cases, the body makes enough and doesn’t require any further supplementation. However, in times of stress, it can help to mitigate anxiety, which can counteract the effects of caffeine, and may make someone feel unsatisfied with their drink and reach for another.
More and more people are mixing energy drinks with alcohol which can have some serious consequences. There’s a risk that you could be masking just how drunk you actually are as the effects of the energy drink are keeping you so awake. It’s only when the caffiene wears off that you could find yourself in a situation you weren’t prepared for.
Is the addition of these vitamins just a marketing ploy? I say that because our bodies can only absorb only a certain amount of B-Vitamins at a time, nowhere near the 8,000 percent found in the energy drinks. And, if you’re eating a balanced healthy diet of meat, eggs, dairy, leafy greens and whole grains, you’re more than likely fueling your body with all the B-vitamins it needs.
Also, if you are deficient, B-vitamins won’t give you an immediate boost – It can take weeks. This means that the buzz you get from the energy drink is more than likely the high levels of sugar and caffeine they throw in.
High sugar levels should come as no surprise. There have been countless articles written in the press about the amount of sugar contained in a standard soft drink like Pepsi. The energy drink market is no different. It’s confirmed that some contain between 21 to 49 grams of sugar.
Due to their addictive nature, some people are consuming between 3-4 a day which is not only bad for your teeth, it’s nearly six times higher than the recommended dose and can lead to illnesses such as Type 2 diabetes.
The other scary fact is that these products are targetting children more and more…
Firstly, why are there artificial sweeteners in there when there’s already a massive amount of sugar?! Anyway, I used to add artificial sweeteners to my coffee until I realised how bad they were. Firstly, they release what’s called a gastric hormone which makes your brain think there’s food but no calories. That, in turn, brings on unnecessary cravings about 20 minutes later.
Artificial sweeteners contain chemicals such as aspartamine and sucralose which have been linked to upset stomachs, mood swings, cancer, diabetes, birth defects, and so much more…
My advice is to avoid energy drinks like the plague. But, if not, moderation is key. Too much of anything can potentially be dangerous, and energy drinks are no different. To reduce the potential energy drink dangers, education is key. Make sure you’re aware of how much caffeine is in a drink or product.
Hope this was useful. Jo xxx