Red Bull is among the popular names in the world of energy drinks. Whether it’s a health article or a commercial, everyone has talked about Red Bull at least once.
It’s a go-to drink for students trying to make it through school and athletes who need to get that extra boost for their trainings. Red Bull is also an old name in the market, so it’s no wonder it’s gotten so much positive and negative attention over the years.
But is it worth the hype?
Personally, I think it is. Drinking Red Bull is like having a cup of coffee. It has 80mg of caffeine per 8.4 fl oz serving, though it has less caffeine than you’d expect. Plus, it’s also really sugary, at 27g of sugar per serving.
Keep reading for my breakdown of the facts and my own personal opinion at the end of this article.
Red Bull History
Red Bull is an energy drink that originated from Austria. It was introduced in 1987 by the GmbH company. From there, the brand gradually expanded until it reached the United States ten years later.
Since then, it’s become one of the most popular energy drinks worldwide. They’re everywhere from commercials, F1 racing, and even extreme sport events.
You’d have to be either a child or live under a rock to still not know what Red Bull is at this point.
Like any other energy drink, Red Bull is a carbonated beverage loaded with sugar, caffeine, and other substances that are meant to support your physical mental performance. This includes taurine and the many B Vitamins you, which are indicated at the back of the can.
While it gets all the popularity it deserves, it’s also gotten a lot of negative publicity in recent years from people questioning the side effects of energy drinks.
Red Bull Nutrition Facts
Before diving into the pros and cons, let’s look at the nutritional facts you can find inside a Red Bull can.
|Nutrient||Amount per serving (8.4 fl.oz)|
|Protein||Less than 1g|
|Niacin (Vitamin B3)||100%|
|Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5)||50%|
A single 8.4 fl. oz serving of Red Bull has 110 calories, 27g of sugar, and a ton of B vitamins to push you through the day with.
The percentages you can see in the nutritional facts are the percent daily value (%DV).
%DV serves as a guide to the nutrients in a single serving of food or beverage.
In Red Bull’s case, it gives you:
- 100% of your daily need for Vitamin B3
- 50% of your daily need for Vitamin B5
- 250% of your daily need for Vitamin B6
- 80% of your daily need for Vitamin B12
Some of these values are above 100% DV.
Don’t fret, it’s not a bad thing. You’re very unlikely to overdose on vitamins from food and drink alone. Those warnings of potential vitamin overdoses are mostly written with the synthesized medicine versions in mind.
For a more detailed look on what downing a can of Red Bull will actually get you, read all about in my Red Bull Nutrition Facts article here.
Calories in Red Bull
A can of Red Bull has 110 calories. That’s 5.5% percent of what you should be getting every day if you follow a 2000 calorie diet.
It’s not the best choice of energy drink if you’re someone looking to diet. But incorporating it into the diet should still be doable as long as you watch what else you consume throughout the day.
Let’s no go to what calories are and what exactly they do to our body.
Calories are a measure of how much energy you get from consuming food and drinks. This doesn’t sound like it could be related to weight gain at first, but it actually is. That’s because whatever calories you take but don’t burn by the end of the day gets stored as fat to be used at a later date.
A general rule of thumb si to follow recommended daily caloric intake, which is around 2000 for women and 2500 for men.
However, the truth is that how much you need in a day depends on a lot of factors such as:
- Biological sex
- Lifestyle (e.g how physically active you are)
- Body size
- Your body’s production of thyroid hormones
- What medicines you’re taking
- Whether or not you’re sick
Crafting a diet that balances the needs all of these create together with burning calories in a timely manner is the key to a healthy and balanced diet.
Sugar Content in Red Bull
Red Bull has 27g of sugar per regular 8.4 fl.oz can.
For reference, the recommended daily limit for sugar is 25g (6 teaspoons) for women and 36g (9 teaspoons) for men.
That makes Red Bull’s 27g 108% of what a female consumer can safely have in a day and 75% of what a male consumer can.
Does this mean some people have an easier time keeping their sugar down than others? Not exactly.
The thing to remember here is that sugar (and caffeine) are everywhere nowadays. So a can of Red Bull is unlikely to be the only source of sugar for anyone in one day.
That means it’s easy to unintentionally go above the daily limit even if you do try to keep your sugar to a minimum.
So in practice, drinking a can of Red Bull with all its sugar content is more a question of:
- How far above the limit you’re willing to go?
- How willing you are to make an effort to burn the extra with exercise and the like?
But what if you drink a can of Red Bull and eat a bunch of sweetened food and don’t burn the sugar in time?
Eating too much sugar can cause sugar overdose and can give you the following:
- Sugar crash
- Bad dental health
- Weakened joints
- Faster aging skin
- Increased risk of Type-2 Diabetes
Among other things, many products with high sugar also have fructose or High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), both of which can increase your risk of developing Fatty Liver Disease if taken too much.
Safe to say Red Bull’s reputation of being loaded with sugar was no joke.
Red Bull Ingredients
According to the back of the can, this is what you can find in Red Bull:
- Carbonated water
- Citric acid
- Sodium bicarbonate
- Magnesium carbonate
- Niacinamide (Vitamin B3)
- Calcium pantothenate (Vitamin B5)
- Pyridoxine HCl
- Vitamin B12
- Natural Flavors
- Artificial Flavors
- Food Coloring
The most important things in the formula here are caffeine and taurine. Both of those are capable of boosting your body’s metabolism so combining them with sugar creates the huge boost in energy Red Bull is known for.
Here, WIRED gives a detailed explanation as to what the other ingredients responsible for giving energy contribute to the formula. They also say whether or not we know the claims of said ingredients’ effectiveness are true.
And if that doesn’t sate your curiosity, my article on Red Bull’s caffeine and ingredients should prove to be pretty helpful as well.
Caffeine Content in Red Bull
A single 8.4 fl.oz can of Red Bull has 80mg of caffeine.
That’s actually quite low for an energy drink.
To put that into perspective, the recommended caffeine limit for adults is 400mg. That means Red Bull fulfills only 20% of the amount of caffeine you can safely drink in a day.
You could actually get more caffeine from a cup of coffee; the average cup of coffee (8.oz) has 95mg of caffeine in it.
Anyway, Caffeine is a stimulant. That means it’s a drug that can enhance your body’s functions and make you more alert while you’re experiencing its effects.
Although it’s mostly associated with coffee, it’s found in a lot of other food sources like chocolate and tea.
I’m sure you already know the benefits. Since caffeine works by blocking adenosine, you’re more alert when you have it in your system. This makes it great for boosting your reaction times and cognitive abilities in preparation for difficult tasks.
But it also has its downsides. The most common of these is insomnia, which is when you have difficulty falling or staying asleep.
This can easily lead to a lower performance quality at work or in school and maybe even lead to a vicious cycle of needing caffeine to cope with the difficulties it causes with sleep deprivation.
Is Red Bull Bad for You?
Red Bull alone is not at all for your health but it can cause negative side effects if you drink it too often.
Although it doesn’t have as much caffeine as other energy drinks like G Fuel and NOS, Red Bull is still loaded with sugar, it contains artificial sweeteners, which are controversial in their own right.
They’re generally harmless, but if you have them too much then they can make you gain weight or disrupt the gut bacteria balance. The latter can result in metabolic problems that can lead to other issues later on.
That said, all this only applies if you’re an adult.
Children below the age of 18, pregnant women, and people who are sensitive to caffeine should avoid Red Bull.
Children, adolescents, and caffeine sensitive individuals are more vulnerable to the negative effects of caffeine than most others. These negative effects include higher blood pressure, difficulty sleeping, and anxiety.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), adolescents can safely drink up to 100mg of caffeine a day. Although it can mean Red Bull’s 80mg is in the safe zone, it’s better for them not to risk it. Especially since adolescents are prone to consuming chocolate and soft drinks.
Red Bull is a good energy drink worth an is a solid 8 out of 10 for me. It has high sugar content and average caffeine content mixed with a lot of other ingredients that also give you energy.
In my experience, Red Bull works just fine. The mix of sugar and caffeine makes it good for a quick boost during late-night study sessions and while completing time-consuming tasks.
On the other hand, I’m not a fan of how much more expensive a can is compared to a cup of coffee though. Unless I go to Starbucks or some other popular cafe, coffee will almost always be the better alternative on the days I need to budget.
I can also see the comparatively smaller serving size being an issue for some people. If your body has gotten used to caffeine, then a single can of Red Bull might not give you the energy you’re looking for. I’m honestly fine with it, since that makes it easy to go about this the way I would my coffee.
Personally, I wouldn’t advise drinking this any more often than necessary since it contains a large amount of sugar. But if you want something to drink every day, then you should be fine as long as you drink no more than 1 can a day; moderation is the key.
I also agree that you should stay away from Red Bull if you’re a minor, pregnant, nursing, or caffeine sensitive. Red Bull is great, but it’s not worth compromising your health for.