Nutrition Articles

The Buzz On Energy Drinks

Magical Elixir or Scam in a Can?


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!"


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

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

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

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

Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health. ”Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Carnitine”, accessed December 2011.

UC Davis. ”Some Facts About Energy Drinks”, accessed December 2011.

WebMD. ”Bee Pollen Benefits and Side Effects”, accessed December 2011.
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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.

Member Comments

    The Buzz On Energy Drinks.. Thanks for your article to know about ingredients and it is energizing benefits. There may be a genuine products in energy supplements are also available in the market. No artificial flavor, no artificial sweeteners it helps to boost your energy naturally.
    Energy Supplement, http://www.instab - 8/19/2015 9:16:15 AM
  • I agree with the comment that this is biased. Nt all energy drinks are created the same and some do not contain the massive amounts of sugar and caffiene that this article indicates that they all do. While I understand this is a couple years old, perhaps Sparkpeople should edit articles which are now not fully up to date.

    Just like anything else, energy drinks should be used in moderation with consideration on how they will fit into your diet, especially the ones which contain less caffiene and sugar than many people's cups of morning coffee. - 7/22/2014 1:39:01 PM
    I used to be an addict but they are stuffed full of sugar and put my blood sugar on a roller coaster for the rest of the day! The sugar free versions are basically a can full of chemicals. They are a massive con. - 4/13/2014 3:36:27 AM
    You can see that this "article" is skewed from the start. Although I've never tried an energy drink, some of the arguments that the author makes against them is blatantly anti-product. For example, to say caffeine hasn't been proven to increase performance in short-term sports, but it's a controlled substance is ridiculous. The reason it is a controlled substance is that it has been proven through many studies to increase performance on both a short term and medium term basis.
    I agree that these drinks which are just caffeinated liquid sugar, that have almost no nutritional value, but if you are going to write an article on them you should show some journalistic integrity and don't let your personal bias show so obviously. - 11/20/2013 10:33:25 AM
  • Good article except the statement:

    "You are literally flushing your money down the toilet as your body excretes the extra vitamins out through your urine!"

    Literally flushing money? I haven't ever seen that, but figuratively, yes, you are flushing money down the toilet! - 9/15/2012 2:40:12 PM
    Great article. Very Informative. Hope most people will get to know this. I have seen the ill effects of energy drinks in my practice as a Cardiologist /Rhythm specialist. Had a 18 year old who drank a 5hr energy drink and went into atrial fibrillation that needed shock to bring it back to normal . I tell my patients not to use these drinks and kid with them saying " I have enough work, Do not add more"
    Thanks for your research.
    C Rayani - 9/15/2012 9:39:04 AM
  • Agreed. Eat real food and have some coffee, you don't need "energy" drinks. - 9/15/2012 5:42:45 AM
  • I have never been a fan of energy drinks, and I didn't believe they lived up to their claims. Now I know I was right. I love your son's idea of filling an empty with water. - 8/4/2012 10:41:13 PM

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