Energy Drinks: Good or Bad? (+ Healthy Alternatives)

We can all do with an vitality increase typically, however store-bought vitality drinks are removed from the best choice. The uncomfortable side effects of common vitality drinks might shock you. Below I’ll present you how I use natural energy boosters, the scary uncomfortable side effects in vitality drinks, and why you gained’t see me with one in my hand.

Are Energy Drinks Bad for Your Health?

Even the preferred vitality drinks boast pure plant elements, like ginkgo biloba and guarana… so are vitality drinks actually that unhealthy? That’s the million greenback query.

Let’s break it down:

What’s in an Energy Drink?

One of the commonest elements in vitality drinks is a few type of sugar (and many it). Caffeine, B-vitamins, plant and natural extracts, taurine, colours, and flavors are different widespread elements. This will range by the precise model, however this text will cowl the commonest elements.


This is the star ingredient in most vitality drinks and vitality pictures, and one of the vital acquainted. The Mayo Clinic caps caffeine consumption at 400 miligrams a day, which remains to be greater than most individuals (particularly youngsters) can safely deal with. For comparability, an 8-ounce cup of coffee averages about 130 miligrams of caffeine. Compare that to a Red Bull vitality drink with 80 miligrams of caffeine, and Monster vitality drinks which vary from 115 miligrams to 184 miligrams of caffeine.

Why is caffeine an issue? Most of us have skilled the caffeine jitters at one level, or know somebody who will get just a little too wired after their latte… or 4. Caffeine tolerance ranges range due to genetics and different elements, however 500 mg of caffeine, or about 5 cups of coffee, could cause caffeine toxicity.

Most of us have a look at caffeine as an appropriate health “vice,” however Kathleen Miller, a senior analysis scientist on the University at Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions, warns:

(Caffeine toxicity) consists of complications, tremors, coronary heart palpitations and nausea. At excessive sufficient ranges – and that is pretty uncommon – caffeine is poisonous sufficient that for some individuals it might probably trigger seizures, mania, hallucinations, even strokes.

In addition, caffeine acts as a diuretic, dehydrating the physique. Athletes and those that are downing vitality drinks throughout sports and actions might expertise severe penalties.


Another widespread ingredient in vitality drinks is guarana. Guarana beans are much like coffee beans, however they comprise about twice as a lot caffeine according to this article. It’s one more means vitality drink producers up the caffeine content material of their beverage with out wanting so apparent on a label.


This is one ingredient in vitality drinks which may truly be good for you. Taurine is amino acid our our bodies naturally produce and may be present in wholesome meals like meat, fish, dairy, and breastmilk. It’s most probably added to vitality drinks since some analysis signifies its mixture with caffeine peaks psychological efficiency.

Taurine itself is definitely very useful to the physique and research have proven it assists with weight reduction, mitigates workout-induced muscle injury, and improves oxygen transport within the physique. It’s additionally been used to deal with congestive coronary heart failure, amongst different situations.

Sugar, Sugar, and More Sugar

Energy drinks all comprise excessive ranges of sweeteners. For instance, simply 1 tiny can of Red Bull incorporates 27 grams of sugar, or the equal of 6.43 teaspoons.

Most vitality drinks go for gasoline choices like glucose, fructose and sucrose, whereas some manufacturers use synthetic sweeteners.

Sugar causes so many points within the physique (read my full opinions on sugar in this post). At the very least, it depletes minerals within the physique and might trigger insulin resistance in excessive quantities. This 2007 study confirmed it to be much more addictive than cocaine!

Artificial Colors and Flavors

Depending on the model, vitality drinks have a spread of pure and synthetic colours and flavors. (I’m unsure why they want synthetic coloring because it’s going straight from a can to your mouth!) Food dyes have been associated with behavioral issues (like ADHD) and most cancers to call just some.

B-Complex Vitamins

Even probably the most typical vitality drink manufacturers normally add B nutritional vitamins. Some manufacturers that decision themselves caffeine-free as a substitute change the caffeine with huge quantities of vitamin B12. While nutritional vitamins are obligatory and wholesome, an excessive amount of of an excellent factor is usually a unhealthy factor (particularly when it’s remoted and artificial!).

So… Are Energy Drinks Good for You?

In a phrase, no.

Like most junk meals, an vitality drink right here and there most likely gained’t have a disastrous impact on the physique. However when a number of drinks are consumed and it turns into a weekly or even day by day behavior, that spells bother. With the quantity of poisons we’re uncovered to every day in our air, meals, water, and the merchandise we use (even regardless of our greatest efforts at avoiding them), vitality drinks simply add to that poisonous burden.

They Target Children

This to me is the most important motive to take a tough line on vitality drinks: they’re marketed to our children. Caffeine is without doubt one of the solely stimulant medication little one (teen) should buy at any retailer. Even worse, within the US caffeine content material in soda is regulated, however not in vitality drinks. Compare that to international locations like Australia that do restrict the quantity of caffeine in vitality drinks.

From 2005 to 2011 vitality drink associated emergency room visits jumped from 1,494 to 20,783. This statistic included youngsters youthful than 6 years outdated. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that vitality drinks “pose potential health risks because of the stimulants they contain and should NEVER be consumed by children and adolescents.”

In simply an 8-year interval, 34 deaths have been reportedly related to vitality drink consumption. That doesn’t even embody the unreported deaths, the center occasions that didn’t lead to demise, and different severe health points that occurred after consuming vitality drinks. Most of these affected are youngsters and youngsters.

They Contain Dangerous Stimulants

Surely these youngsters have been downing means too many vitality drinks although, proper? Wrong. People have died after consuming solely 1 or 2 vitality drinks.

Now that’s to not say their might have been different underlying health points that additionally performed an element, nevertheless it’s sufficient for me to by no means give them to my youngsters!

A 2017 examine printed within the Journal of the American Heart Association discovered that the group who drank an everyday vitality drink had irregular coronary heart rhythms and elevated blood stress for greater than six hours. Even the management group, who was given flavored water with excessive quantities of sugar and caffeine didn’t expertise the identical degree of opposed results.

The vitality drink precipitated a 10 millisecond delay within the coronary heart’s beat, whereas prescribed drugs that trigger a 6 millisecond delay are required to hold a warning label.

They’re Not Regulated

It’s not shocking that the US isn’t as stringent as different international locations in terms of vitality drink security. By including plant extracts like ginseng and ginkgo, vitality drinks may be regulated as dietary dietary supplements, not meals, and keep away from stricter security restrictions.

In 2011 Canada modified vitality drinks from being labeled and controlled as “natural health products” to meals. Energy drink manufacturers will decrease their caffeine content material in international locations like Australia which have stricter restrictions, however promote drinks with larger quantities within the US.

Best Energy Drink Alternatives

While you gained’t see me with a sugary, caffeinated vitality drink in my hand, typically this mama wants a pure increase (particularly with 6 youngsters to maintain up with!). Thankfully there are protected and pure methods to get the vitality we’d like.

Here are some wholesome “energy drinks” and snacks that gained’t give a sugar crash:

Chia Seeds

I exploit chia seeds loads to thicken recipes, as an egg substitute, and for a dietary increase. These tiny seeds are packed filled with omega-3s to decrease irritation within the physique. They comprise pure quantities of energy-boosting B-vitamins and historical cultures used them to advertise vitality and endurance.

A 2011 examine within the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research measured athletic efficiency and located that chia seeds have been simply as efficient as vitality drinks!

Here are some scrumptious means my household and I exploit chia seeds for vitality:

Homemade Chia Seed Kombucha Energy Drink

Kombucha naturally incorporates excessive (however nonetheless wholesome) ranges of B nutritional vitamins and is thought to extend vitality, enhance digestion, and cleanse the liver, amongst different advantages. Chia is an energizing powerhouse by itself, nevertheless it’s even higher with kombucha. Get the recipe for this chia seed kombucha vitality drink right here.


Ok, so this one nonetheless has larger ranges of caffeine than many drinks, nevertheless it additionally has some health advantages. I don’t drink a cuppa day-after-day, however once I do I add much more nourishing elements, like collagen and coconut oil. Here’s my full take on the “is coffee healthy” debate (trace: it relies upon).

Here are a few of my favourite wholesome coffee recipes:

Not a coffee drinker? Here are some other options.


Different forms of tea comprise various caffeine ranges, making it simpler to regulate the brew to your wants. I keep away from low cost bagged tea because it’s not as top quality as free leaf choices, though an natural bagged tea isn’t as unhealthy.

Note: I drink inexperienced and oolong teas sparingly as a result of they will have naturally occurring fluoride that causes points for these of us with a thyroid problem.

Homemade Electrolyte Drink

Proper hydration is of course invigorating! For sports and climbing, we use this homemade sports drink subsitute.

Are Energy Drinks Healthy? The Verdict

Replace “energy drink” with “caffeine and sugar drink” and you’ve got your reply. Obviously many individuals depend on them, however not for the appropriate causes. If you’re seeking to increase vitality, you’re positively higher off drinking a glass of lemon water or two to start the day, getting outside for some sunshine, and ending the day with a full night of sleep!

Do you drink vitality drinks? What are some wholesome methods you’ve discovered to extend vitality?


  1. Thompson, D. (2017). Energy Drinks May Give the Heart an Unhealthy Jolt.
  2. Lenoir, M., Serre, F., Cantin, L., & Ahmed, S. (2007). Intense Sweetness Surpasses Cocaine Reward. PLOS.
  3. Illian, T., Casey, JC., & Bishop, PA. (2011). Omega 3 Chia seed loading as a method of carbohydrate loading. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 1, 61-5. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181fef85c.
  4. Statista. (2018). Leading vitality drink manufacturers within the United States in 2017, based mostly on gross sales. [Online Article].
  5. Mayo Clinic. (2017). Caffeine content material for coffee, tea, soda and extra. [Online Article].
  6. Fitzpatrick, M. (2011). Energy drink labels to comprise warnings. [Online Article].
  7. Center for Science within the Public Interest (2014). Documents Link More Deaths to Energy Drinks. [Online Article].
  8. Zeratsky, Okay. (2018). Taurine is an ingredient in lots of vitality drinks. Is taurine protected? Mayo Clinic. [Online Article].
  9. Weil, A. (2017). Can Any B Vitamins Be Harmful? [Online Article].
  10. Consumer Lab. (2017). Can Taking Too Much B-12 Be Dangerous? [Online Article].
  11. Oregon State University. (2015). Pantothenic Acid [Online Article].

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