Energy Drinks: A ‘Black Box’ For Your Body


If you’re anything like the average American, you don’t get enough sleep daily, and probably have a cup or two of coffee to get through the day. One study conducted in 2016 found that almost 90 percent of Americans consume caffeine in some form daily. While most of that caffeine comes from coffee, soda, and tea, a rising percentage comes from energy drinks. Energy drinks can happen in a can or a bottle, combined with other juice drinks, or be smaller ‘shots’ (like 5 Hour Energy.)

This diversity present in the definition combined with an increasingly sleepless population has added to the increased demand for energy drinks. In 2013, the energy drink industry was worth 39 billion dollars. In 2017, a think tank predicted that the industry was going to be worth more than double that– 84.5 million dollars– by 2025. But are these energy drinks healthy? Why are they so popular? What sort of safe alternatives exist?

‘Healthy’ Drinks

Most energy drinks contain significant amounts of caffeine, sugar, and other added substances, like vitamin B, taurine, and guarana. Although these added substances occur naturally in fish, tropical plants, and in your own body, they are often present in much higher rates in your favorite energy drink than if you found them in their natural state. Mixing these chemicals with large amounts of caffeine and sugar can cause you to have a higher heart rate, the jitters, irritability, and an increase in blood pressure. If you are especially caffeine sensitive, are under the age of eighteen, are breastfeeding, or are pregnant, avoid the use of energy drinks entirely.

Although experts admit that they aren’t studied enough to come up with a comprehensive answer, most experts say that an occasional energy drink should be okay for your overall health. However, aim to keep your caffeine consumption less than 400mg per day across all sources– so avoid some products and cut back on your other caffeine intake if you’re interested in drinking an energy drink.

Popular Coffee Alternatives

Energy drinks have taken up an increasing share of the sports and energy drink market. Their burgeoning popularity is partially due to the increase in energy drink advertisements, especially in media aimed at teenagers and partly due to the decrease in sleep that teenagers have experienced over the past ten years.

Energy drink companies sponsor or advertise at lots of events and on lots of media aimed at teenagers. You can see advertisements for energy drinks at the X-Games, on Twitch streams, and on social media, rather than on media aimed at older adults. In the United Kingdom, many grocery stores have implemented a voluntary ban on the selling of energy drinks to people under the age of 16 while members of their national Science and Technology committee weigh the risks and benefits of teenage consumption of the drink.

Today, teenagers get around seven hours of sleep, down around a half hour from ten years ago. Even with that extra half hour, teens need more sleep– a study suggested that teens should be sleeping nine and half hours a day to perform their best. Teenagers are often reaching for that energy drink, a cup of coffee, or in some cases, even energy capsules to make up for this two-hour deficit.

As a wave of the emergency room and hospital visits for teenagers with caffeine overdoses continues to climb, teenagers around the world drop dead with heart problems after consuming these drinks, and countries in Europe have begun to ban the sale of energy drinks to teenagers, we should all be conscious of our caffeine consumption.

Healthy Energy Drink Alternatives

Although the caffeine in many energy drinks is over-the-top, here are two different low-calorie, caffeine-conscious beverages that can give you a healthy energy boost.

Red Bull is probably one of the first things you think of when you think of energy drinks, thanks to their creation of the energy drink market 30 years ago and their pervasive advertising. A can of their Purple or Green Editions is sugar-free, has only five calories per can, and contains the same blend of taurine, ginseng, and caffeine per can. However, this is the most caffeine-rich option of the two, coming in with 114 mg of caffeine per can.

If you’re looking for something with a little less caffeine, try a bottle of Ito En’s Oi Ochoa green tea! It’s got 60 milligrams of caffeine– nearly half of what’s in the Red Bull– and contains zero calories, zero grams of fat, and zero carbohydrates. Drinking green tea before a workout is essential to weight loss and can accelerate the fat-burning qualities of the liver.

Do you like energy drinks, or know someone that does? What are your thoughts on teenage sleep deprivation or the proposed banning of energy drinks? We’d love to hear from you! Let us know by leaving a comment below what you think!

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