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July 21, 2024
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To Drink or Not to Drink: The Energy Drink Debaucle of 2021

You have heard the saying, “running on fumes,” which is an easy way of saying that you do not have the energy left to do something. The saying can also be used to describe driving a car that is out of gas, and you are pushing it to the limits to get to the gas station. Imagine doing the same to your body – pushing it to its limits and depleting it of energy.

So how do we combat this fatigue?

In most cases, we pop the top of an energy drink, guzzle it down, and go on with our day. The modern energy drink originated in post World War II Japan by Taisho Pharmaceuticals and was called Lipovitan D. The concoction was an energizing tonic sold in small bottles marketed to truck drivers and laborers who needed to stay awake during extended shifts.

Although energy drinks were introduced in the United States in the mid-1980s, it wasn’t until the early 2000s that they became popular. The global energy drink market was valued at $61.23 billion in 2020, and by 2027 this value is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.2% and total $99.62 billion.

Energy Drinks – Safe or Not?

In 2016, it was reported that over 200,000 emergency room visits could be attributed to the consumption of energy drinks. Today, these numbers have more than doubled. Energy drinks have been reported to have adverse effects on vital organs, primarily due to the high levels of caffeine that accompany them.

Caffeine wreaks havoc on the cardiac and nervous systems. When someone drinks an energy drink, their heart rate increases, the vessels stiffen, and the blood may thicken. If someone with pre-existing heart conditions or low tolerance to caffeine, they could be susceptible to a heart attack or stroke. Taurine has been shown to have the same types of effects, dominant of caffeine.

These drinks have also been linked to bouts of anxiety, sleep pattern changes, and mood swings. These may be increased in children and adolescence who consume these beverages. Other serious complications like seizures, stroke, and sudden cardiac death have been reported. Energy drinks are not regulated by the FDA like pharmaceuticals – because of this, no requirement for proof of safety or efficacy is necessary.

Caffeine By Any Other Name

If you have ever taken the time to look into vitamins, minerals, and other herbal/synthetic ingredients, you know that there are many with common names and scientific names. The B-vitamin family is one great example of this:

·   B12 = Cobalamin

·   B1 = Thiamine

·   B2 = Riboflavin

·   B3 = Niacin

Some of the other vitamins that fit into this category:

·   C = Ascorbic Acid

·   D = Calciferol

·   E = Tocopherol

Long story short, caffeine may be found in other ingredients within an energy drink – not just under the label “caffeine.” For example, caffeine can be naturally found in some fruits, leaves, the beans of coffee, cacao, and the guarana plant (which you have likely seen as an ingredient in your favorite energy drink).

Recommended Caffeine Dosages

The FDA has determined that about 400 mg of caffeine (equivalent to four brewed cups of coffee) is safe for a healthy adult to consume daily. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists recommend that pregnant women limit caffeine consumption to no more than 200 mg a day.

There is such a thing as caffeine toxicity. Toxicity occurs when caffeine intake reaches 1.2 grams or more in a single dose. Dosages of 10 to 14 grams at one time are considered fatal. Anyone consuming these copious amounts of caffeine could suffer from convulsions and vomiting, but even at near-fatal levels, recovery can occur in as little as six hours. Even though caffeine toxicity is not likely from only drinking caffeinated beverages, like energy drinks, it can occur when someone takes caffeine pills in excess – with or without the additional from the beverages.

Other Energy Drink Ingredients

Caffeine isn’t the only ingredient found in energy drinks that causes concern. Sugar content is often high in these drinks and can add a lot of extra calories to your diet, leading to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends that men have no more than nine teaspoons of added sugar per day. This number is slightly lower for women, recommending no more than six teaspoons of added sugar per day. Your entire sugar allotment could be gone in one energy drink!

A 2020 study points out that Taurine, Glucuronolactone, and Gluconolactone, which are used in energy drinks, had toxic effects on the neurobehavior of young rats.

What’s in Your Favorite Energy Drink?

Name Calories Sugar Caffeine
Monster 230 54g 120mg/12oz
Red Bull 210 51g 113.5mg/12oz
NOS 210 51g 120mg/12oz
Bang Energy 0 0g 300 mg/16oz
Gym Molly 20 0g 300mg/16oz(Pure Energy B Complex)

The Verdict

There was a lot of information to swallow here, no pun intended. The biggest question you have at this point is – should I drink energy drinks, and how do I choose the right one? Put simply, the answers are “you can” and “it depends.” Not exactly what you wanted to hear, right?

So, yes, you can drink energy drinks, but like everything else, the key is moderation. You have to pay close attention to the ingredients, especially if you are sensitive to things like caffeine, sugar, and any other ingredient that may grace the label. As a rule of thumb, think about what you want to accomplish with your energy drink? An energy drink that will help going the distance during a study marathon is very different from the one you need to give you that extra push at the gym. If it’s the latter you looking for you might want to try some brands that are specialized in this field like Alani Nu, Celcius, BangEnergy or Gym Molly. For example Gym Molly energy drinks were specifically designed to boost your workout, hence contain 300 mg of caffeine for that extra energy, offers premium amino acids and vitamins on their ingredient list. Amino acids are credited with improving exercise performance by reducing fatigue, muscle damage, and memory loss.

Gym Molly co-founder Greg Booth says, “We wanted to use premium, quality ingredients that everyone can digest. Gym Molly gives a nice smooth energy boost without any crash.” The company delivers, using only certified vegan ingredients with no animal testing or products.

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