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Energy drinks: Energy loaners with high interest rates

By Marques • Jun 1st, 2007 • Category: Feeling Well, Nutrition

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On a recent post on energy bars and energy drinks I discussed how these products can have adverse effects for your overall objective of energy gaining. Now I want to take the discussion further just on the aspect of energy drinks.

Red Bull is one of the best known energy drinks
available. Image courtesy of Amazon.comred bull can

Let’s face it, we all go through moments in our lives that we ask more of our body than what it can actually provide: stress situations, tight deadlines, physical energy demand, etc. So, it might feel good to have a sudden burst of energy to help us go through those moments. And energy drinks provide just that: bursts of energy and alertness.

But what is the price to pay for that “magic response” from your body?

Let’s take a look at how the energy drinks work:

  • Caffeine: works the same way as amphetamines on your brain. Caffeine stimulates your nervous and cardiac systems thus giving a push to your body.
  • Sugar: Sugar is concentrated energy. Whether it comes in the form of glucuronolactone, sucrose (the common house sugar) or glucose, the body metabolizes it to extract energy.
  • Assortment of stimulants: Ephedrine, Taurine, Ginseng, Guarana seeds, Carnitine, Creatine, Inositol are some of the ingredients found in energy drinks that work either as stimulants or help the production of energy.

With all these things mixed together, there is no wonder that you get an energy boost.
But when you ingest an energy drink, basically what you are doing is tricking your body to think it can actually go further when in reality it can’t. You are borrowing energy and there is a price to pay for it.

Some of the dangers of consuming high amounts of energy drinks come from the ingredients themselves:

  • Although up to a certain limit caffeine stimulates the body, it’s also a diuretic (induces the kidneys to remove liquid from your blood) and can lead to minor dehydrations. If consumed in great amounts, the problem can become serious.
  • The astronomical amounts of sugar in energy drinks can lead to sugar overload and gastric emptying, further dehydrating your body and preventing metabolized sugar from entering the bloodstream. So, think again before consuming an energy drink to rehydrate yourself. It’s specially dangerous if consumed just before or during intense physical activity. All this besides the health problems that can arise from high sugar consumption.
  • The other stimulants can deregulate your heart rhythm and lead to an increase in anxiety.
  • The sudden bursts of energy make your body work in overload and the effects usual wear off in a short period of time. At this point your body will feel worse than before which can make you think that “just another energy drink” is the solution.

    One other big problem that is talked about is the mixture of energy drinks with alcohol. The adverse effects can be exponentially bigger than consuming either on its own and is a matter worth to be reviewed on a coming dedicated post.

    Although moderately consumed, like most things, energy drinks are not such a big problem and can be a rapid solution to tiredness, indulging your body in that “just another one” is dangerous due to excess caffeine and sugar. If you require an energy boost think if a light meal with the correct nutrients in it and a high amount of a true rehydrating liquid (like water) might not be much better.

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