Do you know what's in your drink?Energy drinks have become increasingly popular over the last decade, especially with teens and young adults.
By: By Amy Reineke, Public Health educator, Alexandria Echo Press
Energy drinks have become increasingly popular over the last decade, especially with teens and young adults. People are looking for that ‘quick’ boost or ‘high’ that can carry us though the day, a few hours or even athletic events.
Have you ever picked up a can of energy drink? Many energy drinks are advertised as being healthy because they contain vitamins and amino acids. While those types of ingredients are healthy and have benefits, the reality is that energy drinks contain small amounts of those ingredients and mostly sugar and caffeine.
Some energy drinks contain as much as 64 grams (16 teaspoons) of sugar in an eight-ounce serving. Some energy drinks contain three times more caffeine than a can of Coke or Pepsi.
Determining the amount of caffeine on the label is not always easy. The caffeine in energy drinks comes from various sources. For example, many energy drinks list herbal stimulants (like guarana) as a separate ingredient from caffeine, but they don’t tell you how much additional caffeine these herbal stimulants provide.
Guarana contains two to three times more caffeine than coffee beans do.
Here are the side effects of energy drinks that you need to be aware of:
• The high amount of caffeine in many energy drinks can overstimulate the heart and nervous system and increase blood pressure.
• The high amount of sugar in many energy drinks can cause an energy spike, followed by an energy crash.
• The high amount of caffeine and sugar in many energy drinks can cause dehydration. Energy drinks should never be used before, during, or after exercise.
• The high amount of sugar in many energy drinks can lead to excess calories and weight gain.
• Some of the herbs in energy drinks may not interact well with certain medications.
• Energy drinks and alcohol can be a dangerous combination. The stimulant effects of energy drinks can mask how intoxicated you are. No matter how alert you feel, your blood alcohol concentration is the same as it would be without the energy drink.
If you feel you need energy drinks because you’re tired or run-down, there are much better and healthier ways to boost your energy.
Get a good night’s rest (seven to eight hours), exercise 30 minutes per day, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water (eight 8-ounce glasses) and eat healthy with fresh fruits and vegetables.
This will not only increase your energy in the short-term, but keep you healthy and fit.
For more information on energy drinks, go to the website www.fda.gov.