We all find ourselves dragging once in a while. The day isn’t over yet, but our energy is gone. More and more, people are reaching for an energy drink, like Red Bull, Monster or Rockstar, to get them through this “running on fumes” crisis. Have you ever wondered what gives these beverages their zip?
Energy drinks are the growth engine of the beverage business. College students live on the stuff. In fact, half of all college students surveyed said that they drank energy drinks at least once a month. And since energy drinks aren't regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, they can contain pretty much anything. Here are the most common ingredients.
Caffeine is the big hitter in energy drinks. Caffeine is in many of our favorite foods, like coffee and chocolate. In energy drinks, caffeine content has been measured up to eight times higher than a cup of coffee. Since caffeine hits your system quickly, you get a quick boost. You can also get a quick case of the shakes and a repeated urge to urinate. At least you aren’t sleepy anymore!
Quaranine is another ingredient commonly found in energy drinks. It contains caffeine, too, but is not as potent as straight caffeine. In fact, it takes 15 mg of quarantine to match the impact of 1 mg of caffeine.
Beyond delivering a caffeine kick-in-the-pants boost, most energy drinks add simple carbs (sugars) like high fructose corn syrup, sucrose and glucose. Many people overlook the caloric impact of energy drinks and can be confused when they add fat as result of all those 16 oz. Red Bulls.
In keeping with our focus on nutrition, most energy drinks add ingredients that don’t actually increase your energy. Many of these beverages tout vitamins and minerals, ginseng and taurine. These additives won’t keep you alert, but some people associate them with healthiness. Your mileage may vary, but there aren't severe side effects, either, so there isn't much harm in reasonable doses.
So fighting off tiredness with an energy drink occasionally probably won’t hurt you. Over use can lead to high blood pressure, sudden sweats and eventually adrenaline collapse. Pay attention to the ingredients list on your favorite energy booster, never mix it with alcohol, and remember that your pillow misses you!