The Truth About Energy Drinks
As busy working parents, sometimes it’s necessary to be up early for work and getting your kids off to school while also needing to stay up late to finish chores and get ready for the next day. But taking a second to consider whether or not that energy drink is worth it could save you from some unwanted health effects. While caffeine is found in a lot of drinks, what makes energy drinks different is all of the other ingredients that they have.
The label for a Monster Energy Zero Ultra lists things like Guarana Extract and Panax Ginseng Extract. According to the National Institutes of Health, Ginseng can affect blood pressure in some people and also cause side effects like headaches, trouble sleeping and digestive problems. Studies show that Guarana contains its own caffeine and enhances the effects of caffeine, which can make an energy drink have a stronger effect. Depending on the dose, Guarana can cause symptoms like rapid breathing, nervousness and nausea. In addition to these ingredients, the sugar content can also be high in energy drinks. A 12-oz can of Red Bull has 37 grams of sugar, keep in mind that a regular can of Coca Cola has 39 grams of sugar.
What can you do?
Drinking coffee or tea is a safer and usually cheaper alternative. Bottled and coffee shop versions of these drinks can still be hiding a lot of additional sugar though, so aim to make them at home instead. Doing so can help you control the amount of sugar that’s added while also cutting down on costs. If that cup of coffee is just not cutting it, consider also taking a quick 20-minute walk since studies show that it could boost your energy levels to get you through the day. If you do choose to have a caffeinated beverage, just try to make it at least 6 hours before you plan on going to bed, as research shows that having caffeine past that time period can actually interfere with your sleep.
Heather has a BS in Nutrition from ASU.