Energy drinks are incredibly popular but they have a bad reputation and that might make you wonder whether you should be drinking them or not. In this post I will share some points to think about when making this decision.
Energy vs. Energy
There is a pretty big difference between energy as fuel or energy as a stimulation of mental and physical reactions. Basically we use the word energy in two ways and since they both relate to nutrition it can become confusing. When the word energy is being used to refer to fuel, it is talking about the body's energy source, calories from food. When the word is talking about feeling energized, it is usually referring to our mental and physical energy.
Energy drinks, for the most part, are referring to the kind of energy you feel. They tend not to be a great source of nutrition although many of them have a lot of sugar so they do provide a lot of calories.
The reason this distinction is important is because we need to make sure we aren't confusing the terms when we read about them. If an article gives you a list of foods that provide enough energy for a workout, that is not the same as the kind of energy you need to get through the slow part of the day.
Something to consider when deciding on whether or not to drink energy drinks is the ingredients. For the most part the main ingredient in these products is caffeine. So if you are concerned about caffeine check out my latest post on whether caffeine is good or bad for you. Other ingredients in energy drinks are:
Sugar and other sweeteners
Each of these has their own set of benefits or risks. I provided links for you to learn more about them. Everyone reacts differently to different things and I think it is best to talk to your doctor if you have any concerns.
Dangers with Alcohol
One of the controversies surrounding energy drinks is that they are often used with alcohol. Some people beleive they make you more alert and therefore less drunk but actually you are still just as drunk and more likely to make risky decisions. So, regardless of the beleiefs surrounding daily use of energy drinks, using them with alcohol presents its own set of issues. For some people there can be a risk if they have other medical issues and are on medication as there can be interactions. Being intoxicated can also make it easier to have too many drinks and exceed the daily maximum for caffeine. Anytime that you decide to drink alcohol it is best to take precautions and adding energy drinks into the mix may require its own set of precautions.
What's Causing Your Energy Loss?
We all lose energy. It is pretty common with the way we have setup society. There are many factors at play when it comes to fatigue and loss of concentration and it is just an easier solution to drink an energy drink than it is to change our lifestyle. Energy drinks function as a bandaid. Yes, drinking a Redbull will help you when it is barely 2pm and you still have 3 hours of work but it won't stop it from happening again every day in the week. There are several factors that can affect your energy levels, such as:
It is important to address each of these and try to make healthy changes to your overall lifestyle so that energy drinks become less necessary to get through each day. Another thing to think about is the dependency that these drinks can cause. If they contain caffeine then there is a big chance of developing a physical dependence and even a behavioral dependence. Cutting them out can become a problem when you start to experience withdrawal symptoms and can reel you right back in.
You have probably seen the Redbull commercials. They are funny and cute. The Monster commercials are badass. Marketing to kids and teens is a very real issue when it comes to energy drinks. Companies know that young people are great targets but they are the people that are at the highest risk. Young people should not have as much caffeine as adults and because these drinks have caffeine plus other ingredients that also contain caffeine, it is easy for a young person to take too much. There have been cases of overdose. The drink's popularity makes it harder to regulate them. If you are under 18 you need to read the manufacturer's warning on the label and if you are a parent it may be important to explain to your kids the risks associated with a high intake of caffeine.
So, should I have energy drinks?
The choice is up to you. Pretty much anything done moderately can fit into a healthy lifestyle. It is the excess of things that can cause a problem. It is important to understand what your own body's limits are and to pay attention to what is going in to you body. There is a difference between having a Redbull to stay up for a late concert and having multiple energy drinks daily plus coffee and caffeine containing pain pills. Your body has limits. I recommend talking to your doctor if you have any kind of health concerns as caffeine can interact with many medications and health conditions. I hope this post gives you a few things to think about before making your decision. Let me know what you think in the comments below and make sure to check out the Further Reading section below to learn more about energy drinks. If you like this post please LIKE and SHARE it :)