Energy Drinks: Practice Caution


You’ve heard it a million times- energy drinks aren’t good for you. But you just need that extra kick, right? You’ve got a lengthy day ahead of you- a long shift at your minimum wage job, a family gathering, show choir practice for 4 hours after school with a West Civ test the next day that you have to cram for. Whatever it may be, you’ll always be able to find an excuse to make that energy drink okay; we all do it. It’s just one drink, right?

The reality of it is, there aren’t just long-term consequences to chugging Monster at 10:30 pm on a school night. First of all, the feeling you get when you drink too much too fast: sweaty palms, extreme jitters, feeling like your heart is literally about to beat out of your chest (it has to be going at least 200 bpm, right?), not to mention the stomach aches. Drinks with extremely high amounts of caffeine such as energy drinks also cause your stress levels and anxiety to rise as well as trouble sleeping, which is not a great study technique, especially with an exam looming. Energy drinks also contain a high level of calories and sugar, which can lead to weight gain. Also, caffeine in general makes you have to go #2. But you already knew that.

I’m not going to tell you you’re a terrible person for drinking energy drinks, or that you’ll be dead in the next 30 years because of your excessive intake of Redbull, because we all know the struggle. School is hard. Long days lead to late practices, and it’s not like you can just opt out of writing your paper or studying for that test. So what is the answer?

The answer, according to nutrition pros registered dietitian Talia Hauser; registered dietitian, certified diabetes expert Karen Graham; and nutrition expert  Dr. Mike Roussell, Ph.D., is to practice caution and always read the labels. That being said, here are some things to look for when purchasing an energy drink.

  • Added sugars, the less sugar the better. Typically, your best option is to stick with a 0-sugar drink, and believe me, there are plenty out there.
  • The overselling of “energizing vitamins.” According to Roussel, there is a common misconception that B-vitamins will help break food down into energy. “But more B vitamins doesn’t make your body do this better, and it isn’t something that you can feel,” Roussell explains.
  • Caffeine. For your body’s sake, you really should not be taking in more than 400 milligrams of caffeine per day. The FDA does not require beverage companies to disclose the amount of caffeine in a drink, and even if the label gives an amount, that might not necessarily be true. Always practice caution.

So what are your best options? Here are some answers from these experts that might give you some guidance on how to healthily fuel your next paper, project, or test.

  • Bai Bubbles Sparkling Antioxidant Infusion (contains 5 calories, 0 grams fat, 10 mg sodium, 9 grams of carbs (1 gram of sugar, 7 grams of Erythritol), 0 grams of protein)
  • MatchaBar Hustle Unsweetened (contains 5 calories, 0 gram fat, 0 mg of sodium, 1 gram carbs (1 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 1 gram protein)
  • RUNA Energy Drinks (contains 0 calories, 0 grams fat, 0 mg sodium, 1 gram carbs (0 grams fiber, 0 grams sugar), 0 grams protein)
  • EBOOST Super Fuel (contains 10 calories, 0 grams fat, 0 mg sodium, 2 grams carbs (0 grams fiber, 1 gram sugar), 0 grams protein
  • ZOA 0 Sugar (contains 15 calories, 200 grams sodium, 0 grams carbs)
  • Zevia Energy (contains 0 calories, 0 grams fat, 0 mg sodium, 0 grams carbs (0 grams sugar), 0 grams protein)

And in case you’re in a pinch and need to grab something from the gas station, one or two sugar and carb-loaded energy drinks a month won’t kill you. However, here are some drinks you should probably avoid.

  • Rowdy Energy. 

160 milligrams of caffeine and about 6 tablespoons of sugar in one single can

  • Natural Bang. 

One 16-oz can contains 250 milligrams of caffeine, which is almost triple what you might see in other energy drinks. Drinking this at the start of your day will make you feel pretty yucky: heart palpitations, nausea, jitters, and even vomiting. Gross.

  • Monster

While it’s not the worst, and definitely a better option than others, it contains extremely high amounts of sugar, which fill you up with empty calories and will probably cause you to crash.