I’ll admit, I’ve been known to chug an energy drink (or three) when I’m feeling sluggish, but how safe are these products to consume? Unless you’ve been living in a bubble for several years, it’s hard to miss the conflicting information about energy drinks and their safety — or lack thereof. Keep reading for an unbiased look at how safe these products are so you can make an informed decision about your consumption of energy drinks.
What Are They?
Energy drinks are marketed to the public on the basis that they can help improve mental function and clarity — help keep you on the go longer and otherwise help you stay awake and perform better in your day-to-day life. But what are these products comprised of?
Large amounts of caffeine are obviously present in energy drinks, but you’ll also find additional stimulants such as ginseng, guarana, taurine, etc. You can also expect to find large amounts of sugar in most energy drinks.
Should You Drink Them?
Here’s where it gets tricky. Overall, energy drinks are thought to be safe when consumed infrequently, but how much do we really know about the safety of these products?
According to an article from Brown University, athletes and those who exercise regularly should avoid consuming energy drinks while participating in physical activity. Through sweating and drinking large amounts of caffeine, athletes can become severely dehydrated. The article also mentions that people who are sensitive to caffeine should be wary of these beverages, as too much caffeine may lead to heart palpitations, increased blood pressure, and lack of sleep.
Obviously, consuming large amounts of caffeine regardless of your sensitivity to the stuff probably isn’t a good idea, but does excess caffeine really make energy drinks dangerous?
Well, if you partake in the popular ritual of mixing alcohol with energy drinks, they may be. Mixing a stimulant (caffeine) with a depressant (alcohol) may lead you to believe you will be protected from the effects of alcohol, but studies have shown that mixing the two beverages may be worse than consuming the booze alone.
The article explains that people who mix the two often believe the caffeine and other stimulants found in energy drinks will protect them from the effects of alcohol enough so that they can still function normally — normally enough to where they feel they can get behind the wheel of a car and drive home.
From this information, one can conclude that mixing alcohol with energy drinks probably isn’t a good idea, because it can impair your judgment further than normal booze would by making you think you aren’t as drunk as you really are. While no conclusive evidence has really been found as to the safety of this ritual, considering Red Bull doesn’t even recommend mixing their product with alcohol, I’d think it’s safe to say this practice should be avoided.
While further studies need to be done to come up with anything really conclusive about the safety of energy drinks, this information should provide you with a little insight into how regularly you may want to consume these beverages. Drinking tons of caffeine-laced beverages isn’t a smart idea no matter how you look at it, but as to whether these products are actually dangerous has yet to be determined.