A Dietitian's Take on 5-Hour Energy Drinks

By , SparkPeople Blogger
(Photo credit: Flickr)

The break room was set up with my presentation displayed on the large white wall, handouts neatly stacked on a corner table.  The alarm sounded and 100 assembly line workers hustled into the room.  They each grabbed a packed lunch, found a seat, and prepared to devour their meal along with the ''lunch and learn'' topic of the day.  Exactly 22 minutes later, they were all out the door and back to work.  This scenario took place five times throughout the day to assure that all shifts received the same information. 

These are not the folks who live a sedentary nine to five lifestyle, pushing pencils and attached to a computer screen.  Rather, these folks are working very early mornings and graveyard shifts…lifting, toting, screwing, wiring, welding, and painting.  This work forces the body to develop an unnatural alarm clock, accompanied by many missed family functions and numerous stress-related health complications.  These folks are trying to make ends meet, feed the family, and pray daily that their line doesn’t get moved out of the country. 

As I talked with these men and women about feeding their families healthy foods, the question that surfaced again and again each and every shift was: ''Hey Becky, What do you think about the 5-Hour Energy Drink?''

What About 5-Hour Energy Drinks?  I recently read a Forbes Magazine article that detailed the story of 5-Hour Energy Drink founder Manoj Bhargava's rise to billionaire status. Here’s a man who found himself at a natural products trade show in 2003.  He tasted this secret concoction which claimed to boost energy and felt the results.  Not wanting to share shelf space with the numerous 16-ounce versions of energy drinks already on the market, Mr. Bhargava decided to make it gulp-sized, just two ounces.  A cute, sexy little bottle, running-man logo and highly coveted shelf space in the check-out lines at various superstores…and the rest is history. 

Who doesn’t enjoy reading about the ''little guy'' who, with hard work and dedication, makes it big?  I know I do.  It’s one of the reasons I have such admiration and respect for our SparkPeople founder, Chris Downie. However, the comparison stops there! 

My Take on the Secret Sauce: 
  • For a healthy adult, one 5-Hour Energy Drink per day doesn’t present any major potential health risk.  The drink provides about 157 milligrams of caffeine, based on a Forbes-commissioned lab test.  Remember that the recommendation for caffeine intake for the healthy adult is no more than 400 milligrams daily.  Now, if you are downing several 5-Hour Energy Drinks, along with cups of coffee and cans of soda, you could be easily exceeding the recommendation, which may result in an overstimulated heart and body.  Yes, there have been hospital admissions due to excessive caffeine intake. For pregnant and breastfeeding women, the recommendation for caffeine is no more than 200 milligrams daily.  As for children and teens, The American Academy of Pediatrics states that caffeine and other stimulant substances contained in energy drinks have ''no place'' in the diet of children and adolescents. That’s right, no place in their diets!
     
  • What about the other ingredients in the drink, like taurine and B-vitamins, which are found in levels thousands of times higher than your recommended daily allowance? To be honest, you are probably just ''feeding your toilet.'' (B vitamins are water-soluble, which means any extra will be excreted in the urine not stored in the body.) You got it… these ingredients don't really add any significant ''energizing'' benefits and are there to just look pretty and make this little bottle appear important.  Don’t be fooled by fancy marketing!
     
  • As for the cost: each tiny bottle is $3.99!  A big part of my job is to help families budget their dollars so they can obtain the nutritious foods they need.  So let’s do some quick calculations.  It would cost about $16 for a family of four with mom, dad, and two teens each consuming one of these drinks a day.  Over the course of a year, this adds up to roughly $5,800.  That’s a whole lotta fresh fruits, veggies, lean meats, whole grains and lowfat dairy.   Do this for 10 years and you are up to $58,000, which basically pays for two years of college at a state school in my home state of Indiana—at current tuition rates.
     
Isn’t it time to just give up this energy? Start eating healthier, exercise about 30 minutes most days of the week, get seven to eight hours of sleep each night and reap the benefits of true energy, while pocketing major savings! 5-Hour Energy isn’t going to kill you, but we don't know the long-term effects of the drink--plus, it sure could break your piggy bank for just a little afternoon caffeine buzz!


Do you drink 5-Hour Energy Drinks?


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Comments

GEORGE815 5/23/2018
Bought some on sale, but never did consume them. Report
CHERYLHURT 4/30/2018
Wouldn’t touch one Report
MNABOY 4/29/2018
Thanks Report
KEKEIKO 3/20/2018
Not a fan. I'd have a Mountain Dew if I needed a boost. Report
PINEMB 2/25/2018
My son collapse with chest pain at a track meet after drinking "runners goo," which over caffeinates kids. He got a cardiology workup to rule out medicAL issues. The coach banned goo and 5 hour drinks. It should be banned for all bodies. Report
BERRY4 1/31/2018
IMO definitely NOT a healthy choice. And, yes, I have a family member who was hospitalized w/ an erratic heartbeat for combining too many servings of (caffeine) ie. Monster Drinks and espresso-rich coffee. : ( Report
BARCELONAME 1/27/2018
Thanks Report
SHELLLEY2 1/27/2018
These little shots are disgusting in taste... I’ve tried to gag them down but they’re just too bad tasting. Report
PAINALLEVIATOR 12/4/2017
I never had such kind of energy drinks for any thing in my body just to painalleviator.com) reduce back pain. these drinks are terrible in taste and I can only eat and drink something that taste great. Report
DIALYSISCHIC1 11/15/2017
I have used them. And they did help me. I would only drink half of one. I have never used them daily bc of the cost and concerns for health. I don't drink much caffeine and FHE never made me jittery like coffee would. But I still didn't trust it enough to drink them daily. Report
EVILCECIL 10/27/2017
Those things are awful! Report
ALUKOWSKY 8/1/2017
$5,800/year?? NOBODY drinks these every day, and just because ONE person in a family occasionally uses one doesn't mean everyone else necessarily does.

Had to laugh when I read the statement about caffeine having "no place" in the diets of children and teens; I have, in fact, been drinking coffee since I was 8 years old! And I turned out just fine; never sick, no health conditions. Report
CECELW 7/20/2017
Great information, regardless of the rude comments on here. I'm so glad i do not use any of the 5 hour drinks. Report
CHERRIET 6/15/2017
Overall, it's a well-written article, until the hyperbole regarding cost. Considering that you stated "energy drinks have ''no place'' in the diet of children and adolescents. That’s right, no place in their diets." Then why include daily shots for 2 teenagers in the cost analysis? Simply stating that a single daily dose of 5-hr. Energy adds up to almost $1,500 a year for 1 person would still make the point. Report
GEORGE815 6/10/2017
The energy drink market is for younger folks who like all of us, are doing way to much with our days. Report
GEORGE815 6/10/2017
The energy drink market is for younger folks who like all of us, are doing way to much with our days. Report
I try to avoid as many supplements as I possibly can and try to stay energized pretty much as Becky stated in the article. The only thing I would add is to drink plenty of water - especially when I start to feel tired. A big drink of water and a quick stroll around the building usually get me back in mental line for the afternoon. Report
I use this product only when I need it ,which is not very often, I don't over do the caffeine. Report
JMONTANA406
This product has been very helpful to me while driving long distances. I dont drink coffee or have any other caffeine. This helps me feel normal, not drowsy, and not SCREEMINGLY AWAKE. It does not make me feel jittery or uncomfortable.. It is like most things, if it is used occasionally in a responsible manner, it can be beneficial. Report
I drink them every once in awhile when I'm super tired (especially on rainy days) and they seem to work for me. I don't think I drink them enough for it to be a health issue, so I'll continue using them when I feel that I need them. Report
I have tried these but use them very rarely, usually it's after a very late night when I can't get my hands on good old fashioned coffee. They sell them at work, I usually take half, and the rest later in the day or another day if I need it. Maybe 3-4 a year they don't taste very good so I chase mine with a big gulp of h2o. Report
Generally speaking, I'd rather drink a canned energy drink if I'm going to be spending that kind of money. My absolute favorite is Monster Zero Ultra, in the white can; it tastes like grapefruit soda without the minerally aftertaste of most energy drinks, and it's calorie-free. Rockstar Recovery is kind of interesting, too; it's uncarbonated, kind of like a strange lemonade, and I think has about 20 calories per (standard size) can. I tend to prefer the low-calorie drinks because the others taste too syrupy to me.

I'm more concerned about the artificial ingredients than the caffeine or B-vitamins. I probably only have three or four energy drinks per year, though, so it doesn't particularly worry me. Report
I tried one once. My thoughts? You know that burning bitter tasting stuff that you start vomiting up when there is nothing left in your stomach... This is a mixture of stomach acid and bile.... That is what i thought 5 hour energy tasted like. Report
OHSOFAB
Five hour energy drinks sound all well and good, until you realize that at least four and a half of them will be spent in the bathroom... That is a tiny bottle of concentrated evil. Report
I'm a big FHE fan. A good article. Though you should be able to get them for closer to $17 for 10. I do not use more than one a day. I typically only have one a couple times a week.

If you hate the taste -- GOOD. That is why they sell it in a shot size serving. You don't really need to taste it.

If you are feeling sick after one of those, it is because you have convinced yourself that will be the result. There is no reason anything in there should make you feel sick.

Personally, I feel more mentally sharp and alert. There are a number of activities that I show better results on with FHE than without.

That said, that is anecdotal evidence, not empirical data. Of course, that is the case for all of the negative energy drink comments on here as well.

Part of having a healthy body is having an open mind. Don't get stuck in assumptions that close your mind (like if it is natural it is automatically good).

That said, working out, getting sleep and reducing stress does more for my energy and alertness than anything else. Report
MICHELLEMAE1970
I had one someone gave me on a road trip with my son and daughter. I don't remember if it gave me energy. All I remember is it tasted like turpentine !! Yuck!! My daughter laughed at the faces I was giving. If need be I just settle for Rock Star or Monster.. Report
I don't drink 5 hour energy because I don't like the taste and they're way too expensive to be gross. I do drink some other energy drinks as well as some other similar energy shots that taste much better. I can drink caffeinated beverages all day and never experience those side effects others have Report
I confess I drink one at least once a month...right around that time. Report
Never heard of these drinks, but thanks, Becky, for a well-written, informative article. Report
DR8688
I don't drink energy drinks. I take natural vitamins from the health food store because they are more pure than the vitamins you get from a grocery or department store. And I will confess to drinking caffeinated drinks. But, I am hypoglycemic and the energy drinks have too much sugar in them, so if I drank them the after-effects of feeling bad days wouldn't be worth the benefit of the uplift of a few hours. Report
PORFGARCIA
I drink one two or three times per year when I go out. Like on New Year's Eve or a special occasion like that. I don't drink sodas, tea or coffee.I usually only drink water. Maybe that's why it works on me. But I think on an occasional basis it is fine. Report
There would never be a reason I'd choose any caffeinated drink over COFFEE or ICED TEA : )

My only experience with an energy drink was Red Bull. I took it while fueling the car on a cross country road trip and IMMEDIATELY had to pull of the road to sleep it off. I literally could not open my eyes after consuming the drink. Report
ALYSSA40
I tried them before and probably felt like it worked because I willed it to be. Honestly, it didn't do much of anything at all. I had the energy all along, I just needed the placebo I guess! lol Report
I've had one before. To me, it tasted a lot like cough syrup and didn't do much for my energy level that I could feel. Report
PENASH1
I don't like any energy drink that I've tried so far. To me, they all taste like cough syrup. Report
I've never tried any energy drinks, so I hate to judge a book by its cover. But they just seem unnatural to me. Why not try some healthy protein for a jolt? There are all kinds of organic protein bars and such available that have all-natural ingredients and other health benefits to boot. To me, energy drinks are like diet trends: people fall for the quick fix instead of understanding that it takes hard work to eat right, exercise regularly and take care of yourself. Report
I've been drinking a lot of caffeine and sugar lately and started feeling jittery and such. I slept in today, drank one can of FRS and stayed away from sugar. I have felt much better today. I would love to see your take on FRS. Report
Jim Furyk is the current spokeperson for the product. A fellow golf (5 handicap) took one last month and said he hands would shake while trying to putt. NOT a good product for the typical 5 hour golf round! Report
My first two weeks at my current company were 12 hour shifts in front of a computer (peak of the holiday season, lots of overtime available!) I had no idea how I would handle it, so I did get a 5pack of 5hr energy to help me through.. I think it did okay, for what it does.. though, I will admit that one of the ones I drank was because I was thirsty and I had forgotten my water bottle!
It's been over a year, and I still have the 5th bottle from that package laying around somewhere.. but my hours and environment is a lot better now, so I don't think I'll be needing it. Report
nice post! 5 hour energy drinks make me puke ... I've only had them twice (both times during finals week) and of the two separate times I had them, I got sick both times. So I've sworn those off! Unfortunately, still working on whittling down my soda intake. Report
I had a supervisor once who you could tell when he was amped up on energy drinks. Hewould become extremely rude and abusive towards the workers and engage in unsafe physical practices while expecting everyone else to do the same. When they started to wear off he'd be grouchy and complain ofbeing so tired. Didn't act that way before consuming 5+ energy drinks per day. I'll never have one, not worth it/reminds me of drug fiends. Report
GWEN_BM
i admit, i love 5 hr energy. i don't drink more than 1 a day (if even that much) and i don't drink coffee or soda. so it sounds like i'll be ok. it's a shame that so many people say it's so bad for you, when it's really no worse than those who drink a pot of coffee every day! Report
They're good in a pinch - like when the boss changes your shift again and your body clock has not been given the memo yet. Yeah, in a perfect world, we'd all work daylight hours, but the world ain't perfect and the bills need paying. Report
While I do not drink energy drinks on a daily basis, I have found when I am really tired or driving long distances, they give me the boost I need to be alert and productive. Report
TCASS1977
I don't like coffee and have never been much of a caffeine person. I do like my five hour energy shots though. Yes, i eat healthy and excercise. Lost 40 lbs since mid January. I get them from Sam's Club quite cheaply. I like it when I wake up in the morning and it starts my day off feeling good. I'm sure some of its placebo, but its less calories than a sugar pill! Anyway, it is up to the individual taste of the consumer. On the same note, I do not drink energy drinks like Monster, NoS, and Amp, and whatnot. Too much sugar in them for my taste. Report
TAPOUTNOMORE
Eating right, daily excercise is great but when one has to work 11pm to 7am and only gets 5-7 hours of broken sleep daily, that boost from the 5 hour energy drnk is literally a life saver! (When I get home from work, I have kids to take care of, don't get to go to sleep, get sleep when my DH gets home after 4pm.) Without it, I am falling asleep at the desk charting and dozing off behind the wheel of my car on the way home! It definately has its place and does serve its purpose as long as not overused or abused. I am grateful for my little bottle of energy at 3am when I have to stay awake and my body is pleading for sleep....just saying! Report
ACICEDA
As someone who normally doesn't drink caffeine, I have to say I drink one occassinoally. What do I mean by occassionally, well, maybe once or twice a quarter. Even better, I only drink half of the little bottle it comes in. It's about as often as I drink a cup of coffee (so loaded with sugar to make it bearable). What is my reason, well...sometimes you just can't get that good night's sleep (military deployments come to mind). That is what I face and sometimes I just need that pick me up. I prefer the natural and to stay away from the stuff though. Report
I was an huge AMP and Mountain Dew drinker, 16oz - 20oz of yuk! switched to coffee with a little sugar free creamer about 2 years ago lost a bunch of weight ridding myself of all those sugars. As with most of these "Energy Drinks" I believe there can be an addictive properties to them also. Since I have switched to the ViSalus products (GO, PRO, and Neuro) over the past few months and have been able to cut out coffee (was up to 8 cups a day) and now just enjoy on the weekends. The ViSalus products taste amazing, My energy is awesome - my workouts are by far the best and most intense when using before and during. I feel focused (no "brain fog"), no jitters, no let down. I love my Vi products.

products page link - www.visalus.com/product-categories/
energy-and-performance
Report
I never had one and never want one. A good nights sleep is better for me than an energy drink. Give me water with a little lemon or lime in it and I'm good to go. Report
BEBE051
wow! great to see all the" NO" comments....I think they spell danger....ex: I know students that will tell you a energy drink was their breakfast nothing else and, they were having one for lunch....and we wonder why so many teens today have so many problems. Just sayin! Report
 
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