Energy drinks can be fun and tasty—but when you look at what’s inside each can, the picture isn’t so great. There are three big dangers of energy drinks everyone should know about before making them their go-to pick-me-up.
Why Energy Drinks are a Problem
Since energy drinks were first introduced in the 1960s, consumption has continued to rise—and so have associated health issues.
The problem comes from a concentration of ingredients that create the potential dangers of energy drinks. Here are the big three reasons to pause before picking up a can (followed by much better alternatives to help you kick the habit).
1. Excess Caffeine: Dangerous for the Heart and More
There’s a reason emergency room visits from energy drink consumption have doubled between 2007 and 2011 . According to the NHS website, the potential risks of drinking energy drinks can include:
- Caffeine overdose, which can lead to anything from heart palpitations and nausea to high heart rate, blood pressure , and even death in some cases
- Caffeine dependence and possible use of other harmful substances
- Increased anxiety, nervousness, and headaches
- Insomnia or other sleep issues
- Cardiovascular or neurological issues in children and adolescents
These are all related to the amount of caffeine, which is the primary ingredient present in energy drinks.
According to Mayo Clinic, most experts agree that up to 400 mg per day is safe for most adults who don’t have health problems. The problem is that some energy drinks have as much as 300 to almost 400 mg of caffeine per can.
Add a second can or a cup of coffee (which has around 100 mg) to the day and you can easily go over the limit—and this doesn’t even account for those whose bodies can’t handle the upper limit if they’re smaller or more sensitive to caffeine.
Caffeine can fit into a healthy diet and lifestyle, but there’s such a thing as too much—and energy drinks toe a very fine line in that respect.
2. Astronomical Sugar Amounts
The second danger of energy drinks has to do with the sugar content.
Excess sugar consumption is a significant contributor to weight gain. The American Heart Association recommends women get no more than six teaspoons, or 24 grams, per day of added sugars and men get no more than nine teaspoons, or 36 grams, per day of added sugars.
Keep those numbers in mind as you look at the sugar counts for some popular energy drinks (taken from CaffeineInformer.com):
- Red Bull Yellow Edition (12 oz): 39 grams
- Monster (16 oz): 54 grams
- Rockstar (16 oz): 60 grams
- NOS (16 oz): 54 grams
- Amp (16 oz): 58 grams
As you can see, a single energy drink can greatly exceed your entire added sugar allotment for the day! Wouldn’t you rather spend those calories on something that will benefit your health instead of potentially damage it?
3. Questionable (Sometimes Mystery) Ingredients
Besides too much caffeine and sugar, other ingredients can bring additional dangers of energy drinks.
Added vitamins and minerals, specific herbs, and artificial ingredients or additives are often found in energy drinks.
The most concerning ones include taurine, guarana, gingko biloba, ginseng, and extremely high levels of B vitamins. These are touted as beneficial, but the truth is they can have potentially negative long-term effects that haven’t been studied yet—and that may not be necessary at all.
Healthy Alternatives to Energy Drinks
Instead of turning to energy drinks for a boost, try to focus on healthier, more natural options that not only pep you up more but support an overall healthy lifestyle.
Avoid any potential dangers of energy drinks by using these options instead:
- Plain black coffee or espresso in small to moderate amounts (and if you want more flavor, add some coconut milk and/or stevia drops!)
- Unsweetened green tea
- Water (staying hydrated in general is crucial for healthy energy levels and a fit body)
- CCL Caffeine Inhaler for a quick boost without any of the junk
- Green smoothies
- Healthy protein shakes
And don’t underestimate a diet full of colorful fruits and vegetables, adequate sleep, and regular exercise. Bottom line: you deserve much better than energy drinks and their questionable ingredients. Give your body high-quality foods and products that provide help, not harm.