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Energy Drink Risks

Updated on April 19, 2010

We all can use an extra boost of energy once in a while.  Which is why coffee has been a mainstay of the American breakfast for generations and energy drinks such as Red Bull, Rock Start, Full Throttle, and Monster are experiencing a surge in popularity and sales.   Energy drinks do increase concentration and wakefulness, and if you drink one occasionally you probably don’t need to worry.  But people who rely on these products to get them through the day must realize there are risks they need to understand before reaching for energy in a can.

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Caffeine Kick

Almost all energy drinks depend on caffeine to provide their kick. One drink may range from about 80 milligrams of caffeine, the equivalent of an average cup of brewed coffee, up to 250 milligrams per serving, and many people often drink more than one at a time. Consuming such high levels of caffeine is potentially hazardous. For one, caffeine is a natural diuretic, a substance that causes your body to lose fluid, which means more frequent bathroom breaks and possibly dehydration if the fluids are not replenished. Multiple studies have shown that performance levels drop if the body is dehydrated by even a small percentage. You might feel more alert, but your abilities and reaction time could be impaired.

Since caffeine is a stimulant, excessive amounts may also cause insomnia or other sleeping problems, robbing you of one proven source of energy, restoration, and well-being. And desensitizing is a well-know “boomerang” effect of caffeine: the more you consume the more you become immune to its effects, so you must consume more and more just to achieve or maintain the “buzz”. Of course, increased consumption interferes more with your sleep habits, leaving you tired and wanting an energy boast, and the cycle goes round and round.

Speeding Heart Rate

High-caffeine energy drinks give the impression of increased energy by speeding up your heart rate and elevating your blood pressure. Consequently, people with risk factors for heart disease or high blood pressure could have a bad reaction, such as racing heart beat, elevated blood pressure, or even a heart attack.

High doses of caffeine might also alter the effectiveness of medications meant to control known health conditions. If you take any medications, talk with your physician or pharmacist so you thoroughly understand the potential adverse interactions with excessive caffeine.

High Carbs

Energy drinks also have high levels of sugar carbohydrates, which make it more difficult for your body to absorb food nutrients into the bloodstream. Slower nutrient absorption deprives your body of the source of real, sustained energy – leaving you with the mere impression of energy that these drinks provide. It may also result in gastro-intestinal problems, the so-called “laxative effect”, as well as a sudden crash in energy levels when the sugar leaves the bloodstream.

And since sugars are high in calories, energy drinks are not a good choice for people attempting to manage their weight because the empty calories and caffeine replace the nutrients in real food. You can’t eat as many high-value calories contained in a proper diet without gaining weight, and you can’t maintain your energy levels without a consistent, regular source of nutrition.

Monster energy ingredients
Monster energy ingredients

Guarana

Energy drinks frequently contain other ingredients, such as guarana, a central nervous system stimulant; taurine, an amino acid you get naturally from food; and massive doses of vitamins, and herbal extracts. Depending on how much you consume, these ingredients can become toxic in your system. They also mix dangerously with alcohol or substances containing ephedrine. Read labels carefully and know what you are putting into your body.

Real Energy

Face it.  Real energy does not come out of a can.  If you are thirsty or need a beverage to replace electrolytes lost to intensive activity or perspiration, try low calorie, non-caffeine fluids such as water, flavored water, or sports drinks  And if you really want more energy, try eating regular, nutritious meals; getting adequate sleep; and exercising more. 

Comments

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    • Green Bard profile image

      Steve Andrews 

      6 years ago from Tenerife

      Voted Up and Useful for this great hub! I quit Red Bull back in 2007 because I wanted to give up caffeine so it had to go.

    • profile image

      Sam 

      6 years ago

      Well, sports drinks aren't low calorie.

    • profile image

      Banksy 

      6 years ago

      I just drank 6 monsters back to back.

    • JasonPLittleton profile image

      JasonPLittleton 

      7 years ago

      Thanks for sharing this page.

    • profile image

      Bob Stewart 

      7 years ago

      That was awesome!

    • profile image

      Mike Chronos 

      8 years ago

      Interesting hub! I just stick with coffee for my energy fix. A lot of studies say drinking the right amount of coffee can be really great for your body's functioning, brain functioning, and more. Thanks!

    • fucsia profile image

      fucsia 

      8 years ago

      great hub! thank's for the info....

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