What are energy drinks?
Energy drinks are beverages whose main ingredients are caffeine (synthetic caffeine and caffeine from natural sources) and carbohydrates. These drinks can have anywhere from 50 to 500 mg of caffeine per 8 ounce serving (not per bottle). For comparison, an 8 ounce cup of coffee has about 108 mg of caffeine and a 12 ounce can of cola-type soda has about 30 mg of caffeine. Other common ingredients found in energy drinks include ginseng, bitter orange, and guarana.
What do Energy Drinks look like?
- Sold in cans and bottles with smart, fun, eye catching labels with provocative names.
- The labels used for energy drinks are engaging, fun and target teens and young adults.
Energy Drinks and Sports Drinks are NOT the same thing
- Energy drinks claim to relieve fatigue and improve performance, but the ingredients in these products can cause side effects that actually decrease performance.
- Sports drinks are designed to provide rehydration during or after sustained physical activity.
- Energy drinks have a high concentration of carbohydrates (sugars) which can result in bloating, diarrhea, muscle cramps, dizziness, and dehydration.
- Sports drinks contain a low concentration of carbohydrates (sugars) and a mix of electrolytes to aid in rehydrating the body after physical activity.
- Read the nutritional label before using Energy drinks and pay attention to the serving size.
- Look at the amount of sugar and caffeine in Energy drinks. Energy drinks with caffeine should not be used before or after a workout, practice, or game as caffeine can cause dehydration, which may lead to muscle weakness, dizziness, extreme thirst, headaches, and dry mouth.
- Energy drinks with high amounts of sugar can cause fluid loss, diarrhea, insomnia, and weight gain.
- Look for Energy drinks that are low in sugar and do not contain caffeine.
Energy shot are the fastest growing segment of the energy product category and parents and coaches need to be aware of these products. Energy shots are 2- to 3-ounce “shot” sized containers of energy drinks that claim to contain less calories and sugar, and a more convenient way to get a boost. Energy shot makers are not required to disclose the caffeine content of their products.
Energy Chews and Candy
Products of concern include candy, mints, gum, and even chips and beef jerky with high amounts of caffeine. These products can contain as much if not more synthetic caffeine as energy drinks.
Why should athletes and parents be concerned about Energy Drinks and Products?
- There are over 500 brands of energy drinks and products and many have names and associated images that appeal to adolescents and young adults. Seven million teens report consuming energy drinks and account for up to $5 billion in sales.
- The lack of regulatory control over energy drinks means the content and purity cannot be determined and the product may contain illegal or banned substances.
- Consumption of energy drinks could result in harmful interactions with prescription medications.
- Excessive consumption of energy drinks can be related to other risky behaviors including stimulant use and risky sexual behavior.
Excess intake of sugar and caffeine (the two main ingredients of energy drinks) act as a stimulant to the central nervous system. The high amount of carbohydrates in energy drinks can result in:
- Fluid loss;
- Light headedness;
- Weight gain;
- Anxiety; and
- Irregular Heartbeat.
- Dehydration is a serious concern for athletes and the side effects of energy drinks increase the likelihood of athletes becoming dehydrated.
- Little is known about the long-term impact of consuming energy drinks on the developing brain and bodies of adolescents.