Energy drinks have become incredibly popular over the past three decades. Part of this is due to the ever-growing demand from hard-working people who simply need a bit of help making it through their overloaded schedules. Americans are known across the globe for their long hours and unrelenting work ethic, and all that work comes at a high price. The average American does not get a full eight hours of sleep every night. For working parents who tend to young children at home, the total hours of sleep per night is well below what the doctor recommends, with many parents only getting an average of four hours of sleep every night. Whether the lack of sleep is due to rowdy children, late work hours, or even because you decided to spend a few hours binge-watching a favorite series, the reality is that making it through the next day will come at a price. Loading your body with sugar isn’t a good plan, but you need to give your body something to support it, or you won’t have an easy time making it through the day. When you pick the right energy drink that isn’t loaded with sugar and caffeine but instead uses supplements to naturally energize you, you can experience a strong pick-me-up that won’t leave you crashing a few hours later.
What are Energy Drinks?Energy drinks are meant to be consumed on the go. Typically bottled in a can, the drinks are often carbonated and fruity in their flavor, offering something sweet and cold to wake up your taste buds, your mind and your body. With such a wide variety of energy drinks on the market, it is hard to describe all of them at once. However, there are a few things that most energy drinks have in common:
Types of Energy DrinksTechnically speaking, coffee and soda are both types of energy drinks, but they aren’t what people are referring to when they say they are grabbing an energy drink to get them going in the morning. Energy drinks have turned into a multi-billion dollar industry, and much of that industry is dominated by unfiltered sugar and caffeine. The most popular energy drink in the American market is Red Bull. Sold in small 8-ounce cans, Red Bull has become a standard flag-bearer in the energy drink market. The drink has 80 mg of caffeine and a lot of sugar, but there is a sugar-free version that is a healthier choice for those limiting their sugar intake. Another popular energy drink that you can easily find in almost any American grocery store or gas station is the Monster energy drinks, which are marketed with bold black and neon green colors. These drinks tout a variety of ingredients, like taurine, which are supposed to help you wake up without leading to a crash, but the reality is that these drinks still pack a lot of sugar and caffeine (the top two ingredients in the beverage, actually). Rockstar and Nos are more brands of the same thing — canned and carbonated drinks that are powerfully sweet and will give you a burst of energy. However, just because these brands are the most popular ones doesn’t mean they will give you the best energy results.
What Ingredients Are in Energy DrinksWhy are energy drinks bad for you? The quick answer: energy drink ingredients. When it comes to most energy drinks, there are only two ingredients you really need to know about: sugar and caffeine. This is why so many energy drinks will leave you feeling jittery and unable to avoid that classic afternoon crash. The level of caffeine in energy drinks is not healthy for the average person to drink daily, let alone multiple times a day. One of the leading side effects of energy drinks is a jittery feeling and the inability to concentrate. When it comes to energy drinks caffeine is the main problem. However, some additional noteworthy ingredients often find their way into energy drinks, and some are actually dangerous. When you read about people who have experienced health problems after having too many energy drinks, it typically isn’t due to an overabundance of caffeine and sugar alone. Instead, there are artificial additives that can have negative health consequences. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) doesn’t regulate energy drinks, which means that when new ingredients are added to them, there isn’t an agency warning people about whether those ingredients are potentially harmful. Here are several common additives that you can frequently find in energy drinks:
- Taurine: This is an amino acid that naturally stimulates the body. We typically eat between 123 and 178 milligrams of taurine daily, but one energy drink with taurine can multiply that level of consumption up to six times. This amount could be hazardous to your heart rate and blood pressure and isn’t recommended for adolescents for this reason.
- Niacin: This is a water-soluble B3 vitamin that is sometimes used in vitamin packs to support healthy cholesterol levels. However, the amount typically loaded into energy drinks can be dangerous — up to 40 mg! This is more than twice what is recommended daily for average adults.
- Guarana: Guarana is another one of the “all natural” ingredients that you have to be careful with. These are naturally caffeinated seeds, about four times as heavily caffeinated as typical coffee beans. That means a little bit of this can go a long way, but many energy drinks are packed with it.