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What's in Your Energy Drink?

Jolt. Monster. 4 Loco. Sparks. AMP. Full Throttle. Rockstar. All these exciting brands that sound like they could either be a sports team or a new car model, claim to capture energy in a tin can. They are also full of promises to get you through those lag periods in the day when you can barely keep your eyes open.

Many of these drinks deliver this guarantee with a combination of some of the following stimulants: caffeine, taurine, artificial sweeteners, sugar, guarana, and other herbal excitants. However, are you doing yourself serious harm? Liver damage, high blood pressure, eroded teeth, heart attacks, strokes, and restricted blood vessels have been reported, some of these side effects even just after one serving.

Drinks like Monster and Red Bull, which have high doses of caffeine, make it enticing for those who want to get a jump start on the competition at both works and on the field. Many think using energy drinks before their workout is an added advantage, but according to Health Day, it could be a major hindrance. Since blood flow is needed to deliver oxygen while exercising, an energy drink could be harmful since it restricts blood vessels. According to researcher John Higgins, these drinks can restrict blood flow and reduce oxygen delivery and some kids have had cardiac arrest after only one energy drink. In addition, The Journal of the American Heart Association published results from a study that claims two cans of Monster Energy Drink or a comparable 3 cans of Red Bull within an hour’s time caused electrical disturbances in the heart which continued for over four hours.

Some are not deterred by this. Fans of these concoctions say energy drinks improve mental functions since they help people stay alert, concentrate longer, and improve reaction time which is important for jobs such as drivers, athletes, or night shift workers. These drinks, due to the caffeine and sugar, can provide an initial burst of energy, however, depending on the amount consumed, it can cause a crash, or cause sleep trouble later on down the road. Plus, according to Market Watch, a 2017 study from Frontiers in Public Health found that energy drink consumption caused severe mental health problems and created “risk-seeking behavior”, not to mention spikes in blood pressure, dental woes, and the possibility of obesity. The National Health Institute reports that energy drinks continue to be a public health concern and by 2011 there were over 20,000 emergency room visits due to drinking these products. In addition, according to professors at the University of the Pacific, added complications for people on certain medications, like Adderall, could result in possible irregular heartbeats or at worst, fatal arrhythmia.

Even the Pentagon is warning its soldiers against the dangers of these pumped-up potions. According to CNN, a study by Walter Reed Army Institute of Research studied the effects of energy drinks effects on the sleep habits of soldiers stationed in Afghanistan. The research showed that 45% of military personnel were drinking energy beverages daily which was having negative effects such as stress, sleep loss, and illnesses. The ramifications of these side effects on men and women in combat are still unknown, but a sobering thought.

Not only can the caffeine and stimulants in energy drinks take their toll on the body, but the sugar isn’t doing the body any favors either. While it does give a quick burst of energy, according to Men’s Health, these sweeteners can also cause lingering damage. Many contain high amounts of corn syrup and artificial sweeteners, some more than 54 grams of sugar, according to the American Heart Association. This is well over the daily recommendation for total sugar intake for the average man. So while a burst of energy is what you think you may need to get through the day or even your workout, you might just be adding to your caloric intake and the numbers on the scale. Not to mention, this high sugar intake can spike your insulin and increase your risk of diabetes-related diseases.

Some claim that energy drinks are fine in moderation. Many defending the energy drink industry claim that the people who have had serious problems with these beverages have been those who ingested three or four at a time and often in addition to alcoholic beverages. The mixture of energy drinks and alcohol can pose a serious risk for other reasons. The National Institute of Health reports that those who frequently down energy drinks often ingest much more alcohol. Not only that, these consumers were more likely to have risk-taking behavior like drinking and driving or other activities that result in injury. Despite this, a hybrid of malt liquor and energy drink, like Sparks and Four Loko, became a popular item about fifteen years ago until the Food and Drug Administration forced brands to stop mixing the two. Even if these fans of energy drinks aren’t imbibing alcohol, the risks are still there. However, there are those who can have serious side effects with just one can if they have a predisposition for certain health issues like heart issues, exercise heavily after consuming, or because age is a factor.

The fact remains - the culprit is what lies within these drinks. Kelly Pritchett a dietician for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics tells US News and World Report that there are more effective ways of bringing up your energy such as eating protein or getting extra sleep. And if a shot of caffeine is imperative, she suggests coffee, since at least you know it won’t be packed with added preservatives or other additives that could potentially damage you.

SFH has a range of products to boost your energy, with or without caffeine. Keto Energy contains 100mg of caffeine and MCTs (a healthy fat burned for energy) in a delicious and creamy coffee toffee flavor. Revive is the perfect pick me up that won't make you crash and burn. Formulated without caffeine, Revive is made with a blend of coQ10, BioEnergy Ribose, and N-Acetyl-L Carnitine that will naturally increase your alertness and energy, encourage hydration and decrease your fatigue without spiking your energy as regular glucose does.