Energy Drinks: Powerful Energy or a Can of Bull?

There are over 600 energy drink options on the market today with names like Red Bull, Monster, Adrenaline and Full Throttle—they can be found at gas stations, coffee shops, convenience stores, and grocery stores.

Do they boost performance or do they instead shrink your wallet?

Here’s the skinny:

Energy drinks are loaded with different ingredients, which are thought to have different effects on the
body. Let’s explore a few of the more common ingredients in many of the popular energy drinks.

• Caffeine

The “mainstay” of energy drinks is usually caffeine—and each typically provides the same as about 1 cup of coffee (with some equal to 3 cups of coffee) or nearly double that of a 12 oz. soda.

Caffeine is technically a drug. It is addicting. Relying on it for “energy” will result in continually needing more to get that same feeling. Caffeine can also:

• Increase heart rate
• Increase anxiety
• Cause insomnia (if consumed within hours before bed).

While we do know small amounts of caffeine can improve performance, it is not encouraged to overdo it—more isn’t better, and the side effects listed above become more pronounced as you increase intake. And none of those effects will help performance—in fact, they could hurt it. Many athletes report drinking several of these energy drinks daily. That can be dangerous.

• Sugar

Energy drinks are usually fairly high in sugar. Sugar is a carbohydrate—yes, this too can provide energy, but it will be short lived. Sugar is in and out of the bloodstream rather quickly. The right types of carbohydrates are necessary for optimal performance—sugar is not the right type!

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