To print: Select File and then Print from your browser's menu
The Buzz on Energy Drinks
August 17, 2009
Full Throttle. Rockstar. Monster Energy. Spike. Wired X505. Red Bull. Amp. Fixx. No Fear. Cocaine (Cocaine?). What do they all have in common? No, they’re not names of monster trucks or wrestlers from SmackDown. Rather, they’re the names of popular energy drinks that have blasted their way into the beverage market.
Usually containing much more caffeine than soda, tea, or coffee, these drinks are marketed towards teens and young adults and are often promoted in conjunction with sporting events, such as extreme skiing, motorsports, and skateboarding. Undoubtedly, though, these drinks also have appeal for those of any age who need their caffeine fix but shy away from coffee or tea. (For more about coffee, see “Summertime Thirst Quenchers: More Than You Bargained For [Part 1],” and for more about tea, see “Summertime Thirst Quenchers: More Than You Bargained For [Part 2].”)
I admit that I’ve never taken even a sip of any of these beverages — maybe it’s the names that scare me off, or maybe it’s the caffeine content of some of these, which is more than I want to handle. How many of you drink these or have tried them? What did you think?
As the names imply, these sugar-laden energy drinks boast a hefty dose of caffeine. Some contain taurine, too, an amino acid needed for neurological development. Taurine is thought to boost athletic performance, increase alertness, and strengthen heart muscle, although studies have not confirmed these effects. So, combine taurine with caffeine (which acts as a stimulant) and sugar (which gives a quick, but temporary, surge in energy) and you’ve got yourself an energy drink.
As if that wasn’t enough, some of these beverages additionally contain herbal stimulants, such as guarana, ginseng, and yerba mate. You might be thinking, well, so what? Isn’t drinking a can of Red Bull or Full Throttle just like drinking a can of Coca-Cola? Not necessarily. Check out the caffeine comparison, below. (Nutrition information has been obtained from the manufacturer’s Web sites, Mayo Clinic, and the Nutrition Action newsletter.):
Select Energy Drinks: Caffeine Content
Coffee, Tea, Soda: Caffeine Content
OK, Starbucks Coffee Grande gives some of the energy drinks a run for their money — in terms of caffeine, that is. But obviously, energy drinks tend to contain more than other common caffeinated beverages. And drink more than one or two cans per day, as many people do, and you can quickly go into caffeine overload.
What are the risks of these energy drinks? A study published earlier this year in The Annals of Pharmacotherapy found that healthy, young adults who drank two cans of an energy drink each day for five consecutive days had increases in blood pressure and heart rate, which the researchers attributed to both caffeine and taurine. (The subjects were sedentary throughout the study.) While the increases were not considered significant, the findings could prove dangerous to people who have high blood pressure or heart disease.
Reports of teenagers becoming ill from drinking energy drinks have been in the news. Many of them have ended up in the emergency room with symptoms including heart palpitations, sweating, nausea, and caffeine intoxication. (Granted, many teenagers are not known for doing things on a small scale, so it’s likely that they consumed several cans of these drinks.)
Other possible health effects of energy drinks include the following:
Why weight gain? With the exception of a few sugar-free versions, these drinks contain calories and carbohydrate. For example, one 8.3-ounce serving of Red Bull contains 113 calories and 28 grams of carbohydrate; one 8-ounce serving of Monster Energy has 100 calories and 27 grams of carbohydrate; and one 8-ounce serving of Original Rockstar Energy has 140 calories and 31 grams of carbohydrate.
Disclaimer of Medical Advice:You understand that the blogs posts and comments to such blog posts (whether posted by us, our agents, bloggers, or by users) do not constitute medical advice or recommendation of any kind and you should not rely on any information contained on such posts or comments to replace consultations with your qualified health care professionals to meet your individual needs. The opinions and other information contained in the blog posts and comments do not reflect the opinions or positions of the Site Proprietor.