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Are Energy Drinks Really That Bad?

Aug 25, 2019
Ashley Lawrie

Author: Riley Pearce
Social Media Director

The supplement industry is a huge industry that is fueled by our innate desire to train harder, better, and to get stronger because of it. One of the best performance enhancing supplements/drugs is caffeine. It is likely this ingredient that has made energy drinks an increasingly popular supplement amongst athletes and young people.

But energy drinks do not only contain caffeine. In fact some energy drinks can contain upwards of 25 ingredients. The combination of these ingredients with caffeine raises concerns for many consumers and begs the question: are energy drinks bad for us?

There are a few concerns with energy drinks. For starters they are typically high in sugar and high in caffeine. This high-energy combo can be really hard on the heart, and if an individual is already living with a weak or compromised cardiovascular system, then energy drinks can be dangerous.

The other issue with energy drinks and their high sugar content is that it makes them very attractive to young people. Potentially people who are far too young to be consuming so much caffeine. The fizzy, sweet, taste makes them seem like a supercharged soda, but kids are getting closer to 3-4x as much caffeine in one energy drink, compared to what they would get in a regular soda.

Energy drinks have also been observed to disrupt gut bacteria, which could cause harm to other systems in the body (as we know that gut bacteria are a major component to critical functions like the immune system!). So if you are already living with gastrointestinal disruptions or complications, then consuming energy drinks is probably not a good idea. 

It is also advised that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should also avoid energy drinks because of their high caffeine content. 

Essentially, if you are living with any kind of health condition, or your health status differs from it’s usual, healthy state – then it is probably best that you avoid energy drinks.

Is There An Upside to Energy Drinks?

Although all of the aforementioned risks are true, energy drinks may not actually be as bad as some claim they are. 

For the most part, energy drinks are comprised of vitamins, some form of sweetener, and caffeine. Vitamins are micronutrients that we can get from whole foods. They can also be extracted, or created synthetically. This is the typical form that we find them in in energy drinks.

Energy drinks will also sometimes have ingredients like taurine, which is an amino acid. We get amino acids from protein sources and taurine is an amino acid that we can safely consume. 

As more research has come out about the potentially harmful effects of consuming sugar, especially in drinks, energy drink companies have come out with “sugar-free” versions that will typically use a sugar alcohol that is 0-calorie. 

Which leaves us with caffeine. Although the caffeine content is quite high in energy drinks, this can be useful for healthy individuals who are working out. Energy drinks are actually an okay option for a pre-workout, as studies have shown that participants who consume energy drinks prior to training can see improvements in endurance, and experience a lowered rate of perceived exertion from their workouts. 

As with everything in life, moderation is key with energy drinks. If you aren’t experiencing any form of decreased health status, and you are actually training and would therefore be using the energy provided by the energy drinks, then 1 per training day likely won’t do too much damage.

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