If you’re one to follow the latest trends and news headlines, you’ve probably come across countless articles stating that energy drinks are the devil and accusing them of taking a myriad of lives each year. It’s more of a trend really, just state one or two ingredients that people don’t know, and you’ll be able to convince the masses that energy drinks are nothing but a combination of poisons designed to drain your money and get you an early ticket to the grave.
Do not throw that can of Red Bull and panic though, as we’re here to lay down the facts and debunk the myths about energy drinks. Energy drinks are not the enemy, and here’s why.
How Did it All Start?
The energy drink disgracing trend began when a study was published by The Journal of the American Medical Association back in 2015. Scientists from Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota conducted research on 25 healthy adults by examining their cardiovascular response after chugging a 16-ounce can of Rockstar packing 240 mg of caffeine. The study revealed an increase in both blood pressure and norepinephrine levels upon the consumption of the energy drink, which led to the conclusion that energy drinks increase cardiovascular risk, which led to the disgrace of such beverages.
How Can We Deny the Truth?
While we couldn’t possibly disapprove the results of a study done by the Mayo Clinic, Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky, a world-renowned caffeine expert and professor at Ontario’s McMaster University Medical Center, states that the effects shown in the study are actually those of caffeine, not energy drinks themselves. Taurine, ginseng, guarana, and other additives have no cardiovascular impact, which makes the whole research a caffeine study cloaked in the mainstream topic of energy drinks.
Tarnopolsky adds that according to a study published back in 1981, it takes one to four days for the body to get used to the cardiovascular impact of a daily dosage of 250 milligrams of caffeine for them to completely disappear upon further consumption.
In simple English? People who have never drunk caffeine before are most likely to experience increased norepinephrine and blood pressure levels after drinking a 16-ounce energy drink can containing 240 milligrams of caffeine, but those effects wouldn’t spike if they continue drinking the same dose for four days.
That doesn’t mean that gulping an energy drink can every morning should become second nature. Energy drinks shouldn’t be served to children and sedentary adults, but not out of fear of the cardiovascular risks, but because of the other effects of caffeine, such as decreasing insulin sensitivity, and because of the amount of sugar in energy drinks, as those two factors can increase diabetes risk in the specified populations.
Athletes, on the other hand, are totally safe consuming energy drinks and caffeine as they are known to improve performance, boost energy, and give a considerable pump during training sessions. Why? Because it’s safe for athletes to consume 1 to 6 mg of caffeine per kilogram of body weight, which adds to 80 to 480 milligrams of caffeine for an 80-kg healthy adult.
Not only that, but energy drinks also boost norepinephrine levels, which is the “fight or flight” hormone in our bodies. To put everything into perspective, norepinephrine levels can go up to 400% from baseline when you’re training, which makes the 40% increase found in the Mayo Clinic study look like a small everyday bump for an athlete.
But Why Don’t You Get Caffeine from Other Sources?
Sure, you can get caffeine from sources other than energy drinks. Coffee, tea, and nuts are some natural alternatives just to name a few. The thing is, energy drinks have the edge over those other sources because of several reasons, including:
You Get a Standardized Caffeine Dose
When drinking coffee or tea, you can’t really tell how much caffeine you’re getting. Even if you do, it’s still an insignificant amount if you want to consume caffeine as part of your pre-workout. Energy drinks, on the other hand, have a standardized amount of caffeine in each can, which makes calculating your needs a piece of cake.
Fast Caffeine Delivery
Unlike energy drinks, you can’t really gulp down an entire cup of coffee because of its hot temperature, which makes the caffeine delivery to your system much slower. Besides, no need to brew or heat anything, just grab a can of your favorite energy drink and you’re good to go.
Energy Drinks Provide Calories
Besides caffeine, energy drinks are also a great source of fast-digesting carbs which can be quickly turned into calories and therefore energy by your body cells.
Other Healthy Ingredients
Besides caffeine, energy drinks have other ingredients that can be beneficial for your body, such as taurine, an antioxidant amino acid that regulates muscle contraction, ginseng, a plant extract that’s known to boost energy and lower blood sugar, and B vitamins, that stimulate red blood cell growth.
You Get to Choose the Flavor
Caffeine and energy aside, energy drinks give you the chance to choose whatever flavor suits you so you don’t have to chug something you don’t like, making it the best option for those who don’t like coffee or tea.Table could not be displayed.
Energy Drinks are Refreshing
Since energy drinks are served cold, they can be greatly refreshing, especially when you need to hit the gym on a hot day. When the summer approaches, make sure to fill your fridge with cans of different flavors to keep your refreshment nearby when you need it.
Verdict: Are Energy Drinks the Enemy?
if you’ve been afraid of consuming an energy drink before your workout sessions, now you know that it’s a safe practice. What are you waiting for, then? Go grab one of your favorite energy drinks and get yourself the pump you need before hitting the gym!