Thirty-one percent of U.S. teenagers say they drink energy drinks, according to Simmons Research. In a different report looking at college students attending a state university, it discovered 51% of students consumed energy drinks 1- 4 times a month . What was most alarming is this volume of drinks tripled when accompanied with alcohol while partying.
And why do many go to these energy drinks?
- 67% said it was because of lack of sleep
- 65% said it was to get more energy
- 54% said it was to drink with alcohol while at a party
What should concern most of us with younger adults (and children) drinking these beverages is how they are using them. Many energy drinks are packed with different forms of caffiene, herbs and amino acids that can literally set anyone up on a crash course of energy highs and energy lows and mess around with normal fluid levels in the body. What worries me is how many people are mixing these beverages with alcohol despite the clear warning on the can ‘do not mix with alcohol.’
Alcohol is a suppressant and an energy drink is a stimulant. When these two items are mixed together the individual can become misconstrued as to their true level of alcohol intoxication and usually consume more than they normally do. Various deaths have been reported across the world from this ‘mixing’ and some countries have even banned the beverages.
Do not forget about the amount of caffeine these drinks bring. To compare apples to apples see how each of these items compare for their amount of caffeine in 1 cup (or 8 ounces):
- Herbal Tea ~40 mg
- Pepsi 30 mg
- Jolt 75 mg
- Brewed Coffee from home 80 mg
- Starbucks Coffee 160 mg
- Monster 80 mg
- Red Bull 80mg
- Rockstar 80 mg
Now you may look at this list and say ‘Hmmm.. it seems to be like a cup of coffee.’ However it is not like a cup of coffee as it has many additional ingredients that add to the degree of alertness you will get. Some additional ingredients usually include:
- Guarana - another form of caffeine usually in the form of theobromine and theophylline which acts as a stimulant
- Taurine and L-Carnitine – both 2 amino acids the body normally produces and have been linked to energy levels. These amino acids are not of great concern though, as their lacks solid evidence that they do indeed give more energy in beverage form and can merely be viewed as an ‘inexpensive add-on.’
- Ginseng - this long time herb known to give energy and help the body cope with stress and fatigue.
- Ginkgo Biloba – another herb linked to improving memory and assisting with circulation.
- Milk Thistle - this is a good herb for supporting a healthy liver and ironically it is put in drinks to help combat the effects on the liver from drinking the beverage with alcohol. However, the amount is so little that it would not benefit anyone.
- Creatine – This helps supply energy to muscles to help achieve greater muscle mass gains. This ingredient is often found in beverages targeted towards athletic males. Creatine overload can give stress to organs such as the kidneys and the liver so must be monitored closely.
- AND THE SUGAR!!!!
My advice: be aware of the bigger picture as to why you or your children are choosing energy drinks. If it is because of lack of energy ask yourself: Is 7 hours of solid sleep happening and if not how can I/we get that? Is your diet focused on more boxed, canned and cooked food? Maybe you need more raw plants going into your body. What is your water intake in the day? Are you practicing daily stress-calming strategies such as reading, stretching or praying?
There are many ways to find more energy naturally. Make sure you sign of for my free nutrition newsletter where you can see any upcoming seminars that may help you ‘kick the habit’ and find that youthful edge. A Nutrition Check-Up with me can too help you smooth out your eating/drinking edge especially for the summer season.