Nutrition Articles

The Buzz On Energy Drinks

Magical Elixir or Scam in a Can?

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After taking a look at the ingredients in most energy drinks, it's obvious that they don't really contain many "energizing" properties. Then again, placebo effects can be very powerful. If you believe it will energize you, it just might—even if the research says otherwise. That said, let's summarize the facts:
  • Most of the "magical" herbs and other ingredients listed have not been proven to increase energy at all and are just part of a marketing scheme to help sell these overpriced potions.

  • Energy drinks contain a ton of sugar, making them a poor nutritional choice.

  • Your body can't use the excessive amount of vitamins that are added to energy drinks. You are literally flushing your money down the toilet as your body excretes the extra vitamins out through your urine!

  • Speaking of money, the cost of energy drinks adds up fast; each can or bottle will set you back between $1.75-$2.50—or more.

  • Energy drinks have a lot of caffeine, which will give you a short-term energy boost followed by an inevitable crash. After a certain threshold, the energizing effects of caffeine wear off, leaving you jittery and irritable.

Additionally, keep in mind that there hasn't been enough research yet to prove whether energy drinks pose any  long-term health hazards. But even without substantial research, we know they can be dangerous; energy drink-related hospitalizations have skyrocketed over the past few years.

The bottom line? Don't waste your money on these overpriced, over-hyped cans of scam. Do what you can to get adequate rest and eat a well-balanced diet to provide your body with all the vitamins and amino acids it needs. If you really want a beverage to boost your energy, sip an antioxidant-packed cup of tea instead. Or, as my 10-year-old son suggested after he gagged at the taste of an energy drink I brought home to research this story, you can pour out the contents of the can and fill it with water. "That way, you'll look cool as you drink the right stuff!"


Sources

Gatorade Sports Science Institute. ”Caffeine and Exercise Performance”, accessed December 2011. www.gssiweb.com.

Huffington Post. ”Energy Drink Hospitalizations Increase Tenfold in 4 Years”, accessed December 2011. www.huffingtonpost.com.

Los Angeles Times. ”B Vitamins Don’t Boost Energy Drinks’ Power”, accessed December 2011. www.latimes.com.

Mayo Clinic. ”Caffeine Content for Coffee, Tea, Soda, and More”, accessed December 2011. www.mayoclinic.com.

Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health. ”Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Carnitine”, accessed December 2011. www.ods.od.nih.gov.

UC Davis. ”Some Facts About Energy Drinks”, accessed December 2011. www.nutrition.ucdavis.edu.

WebMD. ”Bee Pollen Benefits and Side Effects”, accessed December 2011. www.webmd.com.
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About The Author

Becky Hand Becky Hand
Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. A certified health coach through the Cooper Institute with a master's degree in health education, she makes nutrition principles practical, easy-to-apply and fun. See all of Becky's articles.

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