The Pros And Cons Of Energy Drinks

By:    Published: April 12, 2012

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In today's fast paced society, it can be really easy to feel burnt out. Many people suffer from a lack of energy to get them through their daily responsibilities. This is why many have turned to energy drinks as a means for extra fuel. These quick pick-me-ups promise to give an energy boost that lasts for hours. In some cases, manufacturers place chemicals in these drinks in an attempt to offer your body the same effects of a full-night's rest. The question is, do these energy drinks do more harm than good? Learn more about the pros and cons of energy drinks in this article.

What’s In It?

So what is typically added to these energy drinks to make them so popular for that quick energy boost? Here are some common ingredients you should know about:

  • Caffeine: The gold star in energy boosts, caffeine is commonly found in coffee and soft drinks to keep you alert and awake. It has been suggested that a combination of caffeine and taurine provides the mental and physical boost one would hope to obtain after consuming an energy drink. However, further studies need to be conducted to establish whether caffeine and taurine is a healthy combination. (Learn more about the dangers of too much caffeine in 10 Possible Side Effects Of Too Much Caffeine In Your Diet.)
  • Taurine: This is a type of amino acid commonly found in energy drinks, and enhances neurological function. It is also used as a dietary supplement and can be found naturally in fish, meats and even breast milk. It can aid the body by regulating water and mineral salts in the blood, and can help with neurological development. However, more studies are needed to determine the long term effects of taurine on the body.
  • Vitamin B group. Various vitamin b groups are commonly found on labels of energy drinks, as most of them enhance muscular, metabolic, nervous, and other bodily functions. Depending on each drink’s formulation, the amount of each vitamin may differ. They are water-soluble and can be expelled from the body quickly.

Possible Pros Of Energy Drinks

Here are a few potential reasons to drink energy drinks:

  • Energy boost: For those rushing to meet a deadline, energy drinks can lend a helpful hand to finish the last stretch. It has been shown to sharpen alertness and boost energy in times of need, especially during those afternoons where you find yourself struggling to finish the day.
  • Maximizing a workout: Athletes sometimes use energy drinks to maximize their workouts and training. It can push physical limits to the extreme and help a person workout even longer than without an energy drink.
  • Convenience: Energy drinks are highly accessible for increasing energy levels, versus waiting for a cup of coffee to brew. It is also a lot faster than finding the time and a place to take a power nap for rejuvenation.

(If you're looking for a more natural energy boost, check out 10 Natural Energy Boosters Anyone Can Do.)

The Cons Of Energy Drinks

Here are some reasons why you should stay away from energy drinks:

  • Weight gain: Since pre-packaged energy drinks are often filled with high levels of sugar, they can be calorie bombs. Excessive sugar intake, when left unchecked, can lead to obesity, which opens the gateway for many other chronic medical problems. Be sure to treat energy drinks as rare, last-resort, energy boosting options rather than part of your regular daily diet.
  • Cardiovascular problems: Those who overdose on energy drinks are at a higher risk for developing cardiovascular problems, such as irregular, rapid heartbeat, and increased blood pressure. The worst case scenario would be heart failure.
  • Psychological hindrances: While that occasional energy drink can help enhance alertness, too much may actually decrease your ability to function. Nervousness, irritability and anxiety can increase overtime, as well as the uncomfortable and distracting “jitters” common in that of an over-caffeinated person. Insomnia or disruptive sleep cycles can also develop, which can lead to a lower quality of life over all.
  • Potential metabolic issues: When you drink an energy drink, you are encumbering your body to metabolize and process the overwhelming amount of vitamins, additives and sugars. Your body goes into overdrive and produces stress hormones to help cope with the task at hand. Over time, this inward and outward stress on your body can be more detrimental than helpful as metabolic issues may arise and lead to medical complications.
  • Dependence: Energy drinks can be highly addictive if used excessively on a daily basis. Withdrawal symptoms may be present if someone tries to stop, including headaches and mood swings.

What To Watch Out For

If you feel like an energy drink is still for you, be sure to utilize these tips when choosing a drink:

  • Try to limit energy drink intake to about 16 ounces, or 500 milliliters per day, according to the Mayo Clinic.
  • Drink plenty of water with an energy drink, as they are not meant to replenish your fluids but to give you a jolt of energy instead.
  • Stay away from energy drinks if you have underlying health conditions, such as pregnancy or cardiovascular problems.
  • Energy drinks are not recommended for young children.
  • Never mix energy drinks with alcohol. Although it is often a popular cocktail concoction, it can place a lot of stress on your body and heart, as you are mixing a stimulant (energy drink) with a depressant (alcohol). Your body will basically be fighting itself to act one way or the other.

Energy drinks are fine when consumed in moderation. Habitual energy drink users may be better off with one to two cups of good old fashioned coffee as a more natural alternative without the additives and sugar. Seek a doctor’s opinion if you are constantly feeling fatigued or feel you’ve grown a dependency for energy drinks. Medical conditions, such as anemia, can make a person more tired than usual.

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