Side Effects of Energy Drinks (How Bad Are They?)

Energy drinks have become popular among youngsters and adults since they boomed in the ’90s, and everyone seems to find these beverages as an aid to their temporary tiredness.

As popular as they may seem, many have debated how energy drinks can pose adverse effects to one’s health when continuously consumed. They may be packed with vitamins and minerals, but they don’t hold nutritional value compared to natural whole foods.

Guy having a terrible headache

For the quick rundown, the most prominent side effects of energy drinks are due to its often high sugar and caffeine content, leading to notable side effects such as an increased heart rate, insomnia, dehydration and restlessness.

Now before you’re thinking about chugging a can of energy drink, here’s an insight into the effects of energy drinks. And they are more than meets the eye.

The Negative Effects of Energy Drinks

If not consumed in moderation, having energy drinks might lead to negative side effects, most often due to their high caffeine content, at least in the short-term

Guy on pain sitting on his bed

When had in moderation, energy drinks are unlikely to create any health issues, but with all of the components in energy drinks, it’s no wonder that they might cause health problems in certain people.

That being said, let’s dive in deeper to the most common ingredients found in energy drinks.

Caffeine

While caffeine is pretty beneficial in small doses, having an excessive amount of it may lead to notable side effects.

Caffeine has always been the star ingredient of energy drinks. It serves as a stimulant that blocks the adenosine receptors in your brain, thus making you feel more alert and awake.

Apart from that, caffeine is also known to improve reaction times, increase exercise performance, as well as improve cognitive function while sleep deprived, all of which are definitely useful for any individual.

Chocolate bars
Chocolate, a pretty common source of caffeine.

Despite caffeine’s benefits, having too much caffeine, as with anything, can be pretty bad for you, especially if you’re not aware of your overall caffeine intake, have a low caffeine tolerance, or simply aren’t used to high quantities of caffeine in a short time.

Having more than the 400mg FDA-recommended daily max limit of caffeine, or simply having more caffeine in your system than you can usually tolerate, can oftentimes lead to side effects such as :

  • Weight gain
  • Insomnia
  • Nervousness
  • Restlessness
  • Shaking
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue and sugar crashes
  • Stomach Irritation
  • Headaches
  • Chest pains
  • Vomiting
  • Increased heart rate

These ‘mild’ symptoms are definitely pretty alarming, which is why it’s often a very good idea to keep track of your overall caffeine intake and not have more caffeine than is strictly necessary.

But still, it depends on your tolerance and the amount that is induced on energy drinks. Some energy drinks like Mountain Dew Kickstart have caffeine as low as 90mg per 16 fl.oz., while others such as Raze Energy that has caffeine as high as 300mg per 16 fl.oz.

As such, it’s best to stick with energy drinks with caffeine levels that you can tolerate, and certainly don’t try out the heavy hitters such as Bang or Reign, unless you’re absolutely sure you can handle it.

Sugar

A teaspoon of sugar
Sugar is also a source of calories and/or carbs, both of which are converted to ‘energy’ when digested.

Along with caffeine, sugar is among the highlight ingredients of energy drinks. Apart from it’s sweet taste, sugar is also the source of calories and/or carbohydrates that eventually turn to ‘energy’ when processed.

We all know the dangers of added sugars in our diet, but the occasional sugar binge isn’t going to wreck your health, so long as you’re not consistently having sugary energy drinks every day,

However, as much as sugar brings us happiness in some way, sugar’s side effects are not, well, sweet.

For starters, having a sugary energy drink may cause you to have a sugar crash (reactive hypoglycemia) where you feel tired and lethargic due to the sudden spike in blood sugar and thus insulin levels.

Furthermore, excessive consumption of sugary products is detrimental to your health in the long term. Among some of the more serious long-term health issues you may get from consuming too many sugary energy drinks include:

  • Skin damage
  • Tiredness
  • Bloating
  • Weight gain
  • Tooth decay
  • Diabetes
  • Heart complications.

As such, it’s best to keep your added sugar intake to a minimum; the AHA recommends that you have no more than 36g and 25g of sugar daily, for men and women respectively.

As such you might want to reconsider switching your can of Monster to a sugar-free energy drink such as CELSIUS, especially if you’re fond of daily consumption, as it’s a lot better for your long-term health.

Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners are mostly used as a substitute for sugar because of their safe use and they hold no caloric components.

Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial Sweeteers

However they are 200-600 times sweeter than sugar that’s why they are only used at a precise amount or just enough to give drinks a sweet taste.

Some types of artificial sweeteners:

  • Saccharin
  • Aspartame
  • Sucralose
  • Acesulfame Potassium
  • Advantame
  • Neotame

Even though artificial sweeteners seem like they are healthier compared to sugar, they also have some side effects when overused:

  • headache
  • depression
  • weight gain
  • increased risk of cancer
  • impact on gut health

Guarana

Guarana seeds

Guarana seeds are also a natural source of caffeine. They are harvested from the Amazons and are much caffeinated than coffee beans or some leaves that have caffeine.

Guarana is mostly utilized in energy drinks to boost energy levels, physical performance, and mental focus.

Its benefits include:

  • rich in antioxidants
  • reduces tiredness and improves focus
  • has anti-cancer properties
  • relieves constipation
  • weight loss

Just like caffeine. the side effects of guarana also depend on the dose. It also has closely similar side effects as caffeine-well that’s because guarana is a caffeine source.

Some side effects include:

  • insomnia
  • nervousness
  • stomach irritation
  • nausea
  • tremors

What Happens If You Drink Energy Drinks Every Day?

It’s rare for energy drinks to be caffeine-free, as caffeine is the main component responsible for the spike in energy.

Incorporating energy drinks into your daily diet, however, may cause certain symptoms, as well as cardiac and neurological toxicity.

Caffeine levels in most energy drinks may exceed 350 mg, which is close to the FDA’s daily caffeine limit (400mg.) And we all know the side effects of too much caffeine.

So what happens if you decide to drink it on a daily basis?

Within 10 minutes of ingesting an energy drink, caffeine reaches the circulation, causing an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. Caffeine levels in the bloodstream reach a peak after 15-45 minutes. As a consequence, the person will feel more alert and have better focus.

However, The caffeine’s effects will begin to fade within an hour, and a sugar crash may follow. Energy levels will start to drop, and fatigue will set in.

Though half of the caffeine in your circulation will be gone in 5 hours, it will take another 12 hours for it to exit your system entirely, resulting in weariness.

Guy in a blue hoodie looking tired
The caffeine’s effects will begin to fade within an hour, and a sugar crash may follow.

Consider how long caffeine stays in your system and the side effects it causes. Though drinking every day isn’t unsafe, you should limit how often you use energy drinks because this can lead to long-term health problems like:

  • palpitations
  • agitation
  • tremor
  • gastrointestinal upset
  • neurological toxicity

How Do Energy Drinks Affect Your Health?

When consumed in the right dose, caffeine in energy drinks can be helpful.

Though energy drinks have grown in popularity among adults and even teenagers in recent years, many physicians have issued warnings and reminders to those who may use these beverages due to the potential harm to one’s health.

Caffeine in large doses can cause significant heart and blood vessel issues, including cardiac rhythm abnormalities and increased heart rate and blood pressure. Caffeine may also be harmful to cardiovascular and neurological systems, which are still developing.

For a more brief information about how energy drinks affect our health, here’s a video you can watch:

Are Energy Drinks Bad For You?

Energy drinks are not harmful unless taken irresponsibly or frequently.

Energy drinks might come in useful when you need a boost or a lift during mental or physical activity.

Energy Drinks
Energy Drinks

But that’s all they’re capable of becoming. They have no nutritional value and should never be included in your diet because taking them on a regular basis might have negative health consequences.

That being said, it’s okay to consume energy drinks as long as you watch your consumption and still prioritizing healthy and balanced diet.

Other Ways to Energize

Now you may be skeptical about getting an energy drink now because of the effects it may impose on your health.

Do not worry; energy drinks are not entirely harmful when consumed moderately while still maintaining a well-balanced diet.

But if you’re looking for other ways to boost your energy without going over artificials or processed foods, I got your back.

Below are some alternatives that can help you boost your energy:

Doing Physical Activities

Woman taking a morning jog
Being physically active can also help you maintain a healthy weight, lower your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and several malignancies.

Staying active is one of the most effective methods to keep our bodies healthy. Did you realize, though, that it can also enhance your general health and quality of life?

Hardcore workouts, on the other hand, aren’t required to reap the advantages. Indeed, even going for a brief stroll may boost your energy levels significantly.

When was the last time you felt energized? Do some basic exercises and watch how good you feel.

Physical activity may help you feel better, look better, and live better in a variety of ways:

  • improves mood
  • increases muscle strength
  • lower your blood pressure 
  • keep your weight under control

Getting Hydrated

Woman drinking water
Hydration also enhances sleep quality, cognition, and mood.

Water is essential for a variety of reasons, including regulating body temperature, keeping joints lubricated, preventing infections, delivering nutrients to cells, and keeping organs operating correctly. Sleep quality, cognition, and happiness are all improved by being hydrated.

According to experts, the average woman should drink 11 cups of water each day, while males should drink 16 cups. Not all of those cups have to be made of ordinary water; some can be made of fruit or vegetable-flavored water (lemons, berries, orange or cucumber slices), or coffee or tea.

Eating a Balanced Diet

Vibrant vegetable meal
A well-balanced diet provides your body with the nutrition it requires to function properly. 

A well-balanced diet provides the nutrients your body needs to function properly. Your body is more prone to sickness, illness, weariness, and low performance if you don’t eat well.

What to Eat for a Balanced Diet:

The following nutrients are commonly found in a healthy, well-balanced diet:

  • vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants
  • carbohydrates, including starches and fiber
  • protein
  • healthy fats

A well-balanced diet will contain items from the following categories:

  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • grains
  • dairy
  • protein foods

Managing Stress

Woman sitting on a chair relaxing.
It’s important to de-stress from time to time.

Stress is a frequent ailment that can have major consequences for one’s quality of life and health. It occurs when a person is under a great deal of stress with which they are unable to handle.

Ways to reduce stress

  • Optimizing health
  • Exercise
  • Practice relaxation techniques
  • Reduce triggers of stress

Conclusion

Energy drinks, in general, are not bad if taken moderately. The ingredients in energy drinks may be helpful for us from time to time, but it is still important to be cautious of the amount we’re taking.

In the end, we do not want to risk our health over temporary benefits. Maintaining a wholesome lifestyle and well-balanced diets are still the best practices in boosting your overall energy and mood.

If you are still confused about what should be included in your diet for prolonged energy, you may consult your attending doctor for more accurate planning of your diet.

Other Articles:

About Adrian Carter

Adrian writes about energy drinks and their ingredients to shine a light on the facts behind the brand names.

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