Are Energy Drinks Bad for you?
Energy drinks make all kinds of promises like growing wings, the ability to lift cars over your head and generally being more sexy. Red Bull, Rock Star and Monster are actually just made of carbonated water, large doses of caffeine, and sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup. Since when do any of these ingredients offer magical powers?
Let’s talk about the caffeine first. Red Bull has 80 milligrams, about the same as a shot of Starbucks espresso. 5 Hour Energy has 200 milligrams, around the same as a tall Starbucks brewed coffee. Regular old Coke has about 35 milligrams of caffeine. In high doses, caffeine hurts more than it helps, increasing your heart rate, dehydrating the body and preventing sleep. Drinking more than one energy drink on any given day is not recommended.
Now let’s move on to the sugar. Most of the sugar in energy drinks is high fructose corn syrup, which is even worse for you than regular old sugar. HFCS goes straight to your belly. Instead of giving you wings, it’s more likely to give you muffin tops or a Buddha belly. All sugar is gut-fattening empty calories with no nutritional benefit. Many popular energy drinks contain more than 15 teaspoons of added sugars. If you wouldn’t add 15 teaspoons of sugar to your Starbucks coffee, why would you drink it in an energy drink?
Maybe you’re drinking the unsweetened versions of energy drinks with aspartame. Artificial sweeteners come with their own set of problems, like making us consume more calories and gaining weight in the long run. Aspartame and its friends also have a negative hormonal effect on the body which creates belly fat. More about artificial sweeteners on the Military Diet…
Some energy drinks promise vitamins and amino acids! Have you ever noticed that your pee is bright yellow after an energy drink? That’s from the fake vitamin B the body can’t use. Vitamins are best absorbed from natural food sources, not energy drinks. Some energy drinks also contain Taurine, an important amino acid for the brain (which is also found in breast milk). Taurine consumed in energy drinks can’t even get to your brain properly. And the research isn’t in on what gulping big doses can do to the body
Really, energy drinks are okay OCCASIONALLY, just like anything else. But please avoid energy drinks as a habit.
What are the alternatives to energy drinks?
Gatorade is basically flavoured salt water, but it’s still better for you than energy drinks. ESPECIALLY if you’re exercising. Gatorade and Powerade replenish electrolytes and rehydrate the body after a workout. Energy drinks do neither of those things.
If you really need your caffeine, try to get it from a more natural source like green or white teas. A good cup of organic coffee is always a better route than energy drinks.