The Real Deal About Energy Drinks


by Melissa Bridgham

It doesn’t seem that long ago when coffee was the drink of choice to get past that 3 pm crash. But with the growing popularity and availability of “energy drinks”, more people are turning to them for that quick boost. While these drinks might sound like a good idea, you should think twice about choosing one.

Energy drinks claim to enhance mental and physical performance. They are packaged like soda and taste like soda but they have extra ingredients. The “heightened mental awareness” caused by these drinks is due to large amounts of caffeine. Some energy drinks contain as much as 500 mg of caffeine, which by the way, is 10 times the amount found in a regular cup of coffee.

Caffeine is the most widely used stimulant in the world.

In North America, 90% of adults consume caffeine daily and believe it to be a worry-free source of immediate energy. You can in fact overdose on caffeine; especially if you are consuming large amounts. Caffeine has several side effects including elevated blood pressure, disruption of sleeping habits, aggravation of psychiatric conditions and can be highly addictive. Caffeine intoxication can occur when you consume 400-500 mg at a time and can lead to rapid heartbeat, vomiting, seizure and even death. Consuming as little as 2 grams of caffeine can lead to hospitalization.

Other extra ingredients in energy drinks vary by brand. Though sugar free energy drinks exist, most of them contain “energy providing” herbs which usually include guarana, taurine, ginseng and B vitamins. These extra herbs typically don’t live up to their promises. Ginseng content in most energy drinks for example is far less than that of most dietary supplements. So no. You will not sprout wings. In addition, the manufacturers of these drinks aren’t required to disclose whether or not the herbs they use have been sprayed with toxic pesticides, irradiated or watered with contaminated water supplies. It is impossible to know how many toxins you are actually drinking and how they will affect you.

Claims of increased performance

Energy drinks claim to enhance cognitive performance. Studies have shown that when compared to a placebo ( sugar-free lemonade), energy drinks had no significant positive effect on concentration, reasoning or aptitude.

Then there are claims of increased athletic performance. Energy drinks DO NOT enhance athletic performance. Due to the large amount of caffeine, which has a diuretic effect, energy drinks are not recommended. High doses of caffeine can impair athletic performance by interfering with coordination and causing dehydration.

Large amounts of caffeine can be harmful in the work place, especially in the health care field. No one wants a sleep deprived, jittery surgeon cutting them open. Too much caffeine can also increase anxiety, restlessness and lapses in judgement. Contrary to popular belief, research suggests that caffeine does not increase motivation in humans and may even decrease motivation. The truth is that you do NOT need energy drinks. They are dangerous and don’t provide the benefits they claim.

If you are that exhausted all the time then you have a bigger problem than lack of caffeine and guzzling energy drinks is not going to fix it. If you have energy problems then you are probably not getting enough sleep or the nutrition your body needs. Maybe you are not exercising or drinking enough water. Start taking care of yourself properly and you will find you have plenty of energy to spare.

About the author:

Melissa blogs about natural health and healthy dieting. Visit her online at www.theskinniestyou.com

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