Energy drinks are soft drinks that are marketed as giving you extra energy.
Some of the most popular energy drinks are:
How Do Energy Drinks Work?
Generally speaking, energy drinks usually contain more caffeine and vitamins than normal soft drinks. They may also contain herbs, guarana, taurine, ginseng, gingko biloba or other various ingredients.
The effect of drinking an energy drink is basically comparable to drinking a couple cups of coffee.
The caffeine content of energy drinks varies from 50 milligrams to more than 500 milligrams per serving. A regular 12-ounce cola drink has about 35 milligrams of caffeine, and a 6-ounce cup of brewed coffee has 80 to 150 milligrams of caffeine. — New York Times
How Much Is Too Much?
Energy drinks are known to increase endurance during exercise and sports, as well as provide a few extra hours of alertness for study.
These are the desired results of drinking energy drinks.
The problem with energy drinks comes with over-consumption. People who drink too many energy drinks (more than 2 a day) border on being energy drink abusers.
Some signs of energy drink abuse include restlessness, insomnia, excitement, irritability and increased urination. Larger overdoses of the caffeine in energy drinks may cause mania, depression, delusions and disorientation. Source
Plus, according to Savannah Morning News, teens are using energy drinks to get a “caffeine buzz“. And teens who abuse energy drinks on a regular basis may be more likely to engage in risky behaviors. (Move over alcohol.)
What About Red Bull?
According to the Chicago Sun Times, “gone are the sucrose, glucose and taurine that made up the original Red Bull, introduced to the U.S. market 11 years ago … 12 ounces of the cola contains 45 milligrams of caffeine, about half the amount in an average cup of coffee.”
Previously, Red Bull had 80 milligrams of caffeine.
The taste of Red Bull is also different, and today is compared to a mix of Coke, Pepsi, and RC Cola.
This Caffeine Content Database shows just how much caffeine is in various drinks, including energy drinks. Plus, you can chart just how much caffeine you’re drinking each day. (Sort the list by name or caffeine content.)
What About Energy Shots?
The newest, highest potency energy drinks are created from energy shots, which are basically highly concentrated versions of the same caffeine and vitamin mixes. They rank at the highest end of the caffeine per milligram rating scale.
Some of the most popular energy shots are:
Energy shots are popular for many reasons, including their enhanced potency. But one of the most unusual reasons that energy shots are used these days (especially by truck drivers) is for their ability to keep you awake longer while driving — without the need to stop for frequent bathroom breaks!
So, Are Energy Drinks Bad For You?
Most energy drinks are not bad for you — when used in moderation.
The equivalent of a few cups of coffee a day will not kill you. For example, according to Healthbolt, “If Red Bull is your drink, you’ll slosh down less caffeine than in a cup of coffee at 80 milligrams.”
Energy drinks have been compared on many instances to having the same effects as when drinking soda. TheSandspur.org
There is one major caveat, however. If you have a caffeine sensitivity, you will want to avoid energy drinks altogether.
On a personal note, speaking of caffeine sensitivity, my husband had a 6 hour each way commute for over a year. He got into a habit of drinking 2 energy drinks before his drive. After about 6 months of this routine, twice every week, his hands began to shake whenever he had anything with caffeine. He never was a coffee drinker, so drinking Red Bull was a bad idea.
In the end, energy drinks become most problematic “when used in combination with alcohol or when used before sports or with kids.” This is supported by The Daily Collegian: “It could be dangerous to mix energy drinks with alcohol or to drink them before exercising.”
UPDATE: Energy drinks may be worse than we we first thought!
More About Energy Drinks…
- Best Energy Drinks & Energy Shots
- 5-Hour Energy Shots FAQ
- Top 5 Most Energy “Drink” Cities
- Energy Drink Reviews
- Scientific Study: Caffeine Has Greater Effect On Men
- Review: 5-Hour Energy Packs A Punch