Time for a Pep Talk: The Truth about Energy Drinks

In today’s busy world, there aren’t enough hours in the day to finish everything that needs to get done. Between writing papers, completing internships and maintaining some semblance of a social life, it can be exhausting being a college student. Thankfully there are ways to try and regain that alert feeling.

While coffee and soda have always been the caffeinated beverages of choice for anyone looking for some quick energy, there has been a rise in the popularity of energy drinks in recent years.

Names like Red Bull, Amp, Monster, 5-Hour Energy and Rockstar are all over store shelves and are very popular amongst high school and college students.

Yes, energy drinks are a quick, easy source of caffeine, but what’s really in them that makes them that way? Are they any worse for your health than a twelve ounce can of Coke?

According to the Mayo Clinic’s website, that can of Coca-Cola contains between 30 to 35 milligrams of caffeine. By comparison, a twelve ounce can of Mountain Dew contains a whopping 46 to 55 milligrams.

This may sound like more than enough caffeine to keep the average person awake long enough to get through the day. However, these numbers fall far short of the caffeine amount contained in energy drinks.

An eight-ounce can of Amp contains around 73 milligrams of caffeine, while Red Bull, Monster and Rockstar all contain around 80 milligrams.

Yet, 5-Hour Energy packs the biggest punch; cramming a whopping 207 milligrams of the caffeine into every two ounce, shrink wrapped bottle.

The Brown University health education website also mentions that, in addition to caffeine, these drinks also contain stimulants like guarana and ginseng.

These are typically thrown in place of sugar so that the manufacturer can advertise that their beverage will not lead to a crash later on in the day. It is because of these high levels of caffeine and stimulants that energy drinks have the potential to do more harm to the body than good.

In addition to simply causing sleep deprivation, the Brown University website also states that these drinks can cause dehydration and increase a person’s heart rate to the point of palpitations.

Because of this, they recommend not consuming energy drinks during any physical activity. As the site puts it, “you wouldn’t use Mountain Dew as a sports drink.”

An article on Men’s Fitness website also states that if you consume multiple energy drinks in one day, it can lead to dizzy spells, increased heart rate and sometimes a skipped heartbeat.

These drinks are not necessarily dangerous when consumed in moderation. But when they are used regularly as nutritional supplements, the potential for heart issues can arise.

While people of all ages consume energy drinks, they are clearly marketed towards young people. Red Bull is branded towards people who do things like skydiving.

They have even sponsored an event where people construct makeshift aircraft and launch them off a pier to see if they will fly.

Likewise, Monster is a big player in extreme sports like the X Games and both have been major sponsors in sports like NASCAR in recent years, along with 5-Hour Energy.

Whether it’s trying to pull an all-nighter to finish a paper or trying to stay awake during that 90-minute lecture at 9 am, college students, along with others in this age group, are going to consume energy drinks.

Simply put, the key to energy drinks is moderation. Just like with indulgences such as fast food, soda and alcohol, too much of anything can be bad.

If you drink five Red Bulls in one day, it may give you wings, but there will also be some adverse health effects to go with them.

There’s nothing wrong with drinking one once in a while for a little extra boost, but consuming energy drinks like water can lead to “Monster”-ous side effects that could have been prevented.