Energy drinks are everywhere and we have come to consider them just soft drinks with a kick. We use them to combat daytime drowsiness, balance alcohol consumption, give us a better workout or fuel our evening social life. They provide a quick afternoon pick-me-up or fuel a cross country road trip.
But the price we pay for this boost of ambition is often a good night’s sleep and a huge chunk of our mental health.
Energy Drinks Are Loaded With Caffeine and Sugar
Energy drinks vary widely in caffeine content. Some are about the same as a cup of coffee while others have the entire 400mg the FDA says is a safe daily limit. Those little shots of energy in a bottle you can get at the gas station are the equivalent of over two cups of coffee.
The sugar can range from zero (but lots of chemicals) to almost 40 grams in a regular soda. To understand what that looks like the real world: 1 teaspoon of sugar equals about 4 grams of sugar. So if you are dinking a “coke” for energy, you are getting about 34mg of caffeine (about 2/3 the caffeine in a cup of coffee) but about 8.5 teaspoons of sugar! Imagine pouring yourself a cup of coffee and adding almost 9 teaspoons of sugar. That’s crazy but because it is in a can, we just drink it and don’t think about it.
But I drink diet soda with caffeine, you say. Well the manufacturers changed up the rules on you. That diet version will have MORE caffeine and no sugar. So you are getting about 46mg of caffeine in the diet version. Where does it tell you that? It doesn’t.
Manufacturers are not required to disclose the caffeine content on their label.
The side effects of all of this caffeine can be risky to your health, and children in particular should avoid it. Young children do not have a well-developed metabolism that can process high levels of caffeine and sugar effectively. The short- term side effects can include increased anxiety, irritability, nervousness, or moodiness.
Energy Drinks Are Not Good For Children
Children who drink high-caffeine, high sugar energy drinks tend to be more antagonistic and unfocused in school. It has been reported that when energy drinks were banned from a school in England, visits to the Principal’s office declined nearly forty percent in the first month.
Do you give your children hot chocolate at the coffee shop? Best to be aware that a 16 oz (grande) hot chocolate from a major coffee company will have 25 mg of caffeine (about 1/4 cup of coffee) and 43 gr of sugar (almost 11 teaspoons of sugar). That’s more sugar than a can of soda and almost the same caffeine!
The Dark Side Of Energy Drinks
When I was drinking too much caffeine I would have heart palpitations while just sitting at my desk working. They would come out of nowhere and then disappear just as suddenly. This is actually really common but it’s still a symptom to be concerned with. There are instances where people have died from overconsumption of energy drinks.
All the sugar also puts you at risk of Type 2 diabetes.
Your mental health can also be at risk. Long-term heavy consumption of energy drinks, including an increased risk of depression, habit-forming and dependence on alcohol. Because energy drinks are typically consumed quickly, they are more likely to lead to a caffeine overdose than strong coffee, which is typically consumed slowly over several minutes.
Never Mix Energy Drinks And Alcohol
Every study that has investigated alcohol and energy drinks comes out with the conclusion it is very bad. Not that anyone listens. Combining alcohol and energy drinks is a popular mixture with college kids and teenagers. The energy drink act as stimulants, while alcohol is a depressant. The desire with this mixture is to reduce the effect of the alcohol by disguising the intoxication and the fatigue normally associated with alcohol consumption. Essentially, the body is unable to detect when it has consumed enough, or too much.
The drinker will feel alert, as if they were not drunk, yet their blood alcohol levels may be dangerously high. The result is people who drink this mixture often drink a lot more than they would without the energy drink. To make matters worse, the combined effect of caffeine and alcohol is a super-dehydrator, which creates a much bigger hangover the next day.
This yin and yang between stimulant and depressant puts your body into a very stressful condition and can lead to death.
While occasional use of energy drinks should not be a problem, that means every few weeks, not every day. Plus when you consume too much caffeine you become dependent and that makes the caffeine not even work as well. Moderation will be key in the consumption of energy drinks and they should never be consumed by children.
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