As the safety of energy drinks are brought to question here are the ingredients and the effects that it has on the body.
It appears that energy drink companies continue to add more ingredients into their products everyday. Part of this reason is to keep their company unique and for marketing reasons so they can differentiate their product from the rest. The question is what are these ingredients and what do they do for your body? Tara Zimliki, fitness, nutrition expert and founder of Tara’s Bootcamp weighs in on this most popular and concerning topic below.
The most common ingredients in energy drinks are caffeine, taurine, guarana, B vitamins, ginseng, sugar, creatine, Phenylalanine and artificial sweeteners.
Energy drinks contain 4-7 times the amount of caffeine than a cup of coffee. While small amounts of caffeine are not generally considered dangerous, too much can over stimulate the central nervous system and can dangerously elevate blood pressure and heart rate.
Now here are the ingredients and the supposed effect on the body:
Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system producing alertness. It can raise heart rate and blood pressure but also dehydrates the body. By dehydrating the body this can affect muscle cramping. A lot of people experience side effects above 200mg, which include sleeplessness, heart palpitations, headaches, and naseau..
Taurine is an amino acid that your body naturally produces. It helps regulate heartbeat, muscle contractions, and energy levels.
Guarana – More dense in caffeine than coffee beans containing 3-4 times more caffeine than coffee beans.
B Vitamins – the vitamins help you convert food to energy, like sugar which is found in abundance in energy drinks. The jury’s still out on whether or not they increase energy levels via supplements when added in energy drinks.
Ginseng, a herb known to increase energy, has some anti-fatigue components and increase memory.
Sugar-Energy drinks are sugar laden containing 45-68 grams of sugar in 1 drink. This is the equivalent of sugar in 2 candy bars! High sugar consumption has been linked to diabetes. Creatine is naturally obtained by eating meat.
Creatine helps with supplying energy to the muscles.
Phenylalanine, though an essential amino acid, is also a neurotoxin and is one of the three main ingredients which make up aspartame. Too much can excite the neurons in the brain to the point of cellular death.
Artificial sweeteners have a host of side effects some have even been linked to cancer.
Most energy drinks have a warning label stating to only have the serving size or recommended amount. In moderation, most people will have no adverse, short term side effects from drinking energy drinks, however, the long term side effects from consuming energy drinks aren’t fully understood as of yet. The American Heart Association warns that anyone with cardiovascular problems — should avoid or at least cut back on energy drinks.
Energy drinks are supposed to provide stimulation for periods of time and to provide hydration. However, energy drinks do not hydrate the body and can actually deplete the body of water and dehydrate the body. Energy drinks can also cause serious health problems, such as increased blood pressure, stomach problems, panic attacks, anxiety, and cardiac arrhythmias.
Parents of 14-year-old Anais Fournier filed a lawsuit against Monster Energy claiming the caffeine in the company’s drinks killed their daughter. Fournier reportedly consumed two 24-oz. Monster Energy drinks in 24 hours and her autopsy attributed her death to “cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity.”
Currently, the FDA does not require the amount of caffeine in a product to be listed on the food label. Since caffeine is not considered a nutrient, it only needs to be listed under ingredients if it is added to a food. Energy drinks aren’t regulated under FDA guidelines because they are sold as dietary supplements. “This is a very scary thought because people are ingesting products that are not even regulated so how safe is this? People are not clear of the full effects” says Tara.
And if they did fall under the FDA’s authority, the beverages would far exceed the levels that the agency considers safe — the FDA allows sodas to contain 71mg of caffeine per 12 oz., and requires makers to prove safety of any higher amounts. Energy drinks can contain anywhere from 160mg to 500 mg of caffeine per serving, according to the FDA.
The challenge for these efforts will be to find a threshold for defining toxic levels of caffeine in foods or beverages.
Below are 5 alternatives for energy shakes. These 5 natural drinks will give you more energy without side effects.
1. Whey Protein Shakes. The average individual falls short of their daily protein requirements and this is often the number one reason for fatigue! Achieving your daily protein requirement is not easy and so many people are unaware what the requirement actually is. People should aim for .75 to 1 gram of protein to each pound you weight. So if you weight 150 pounds you should aim for anywhere between 120-150 grams of protein per day. You can achieve this daily goal through lean protein sources like chicken, turkey breast and protein shakes. Protein shakes make it easier to achieve your daily goal..
2. Drink water! We all need to consume a minimum of eight glasses of water daily to hydrate our bodies. If we are even a little dehydrated, our metabolism can slow down up to 3 percent! Fill a large water pitcher full of cold water, and add slices of lemons to make it more appealing so you’ll drink more. Also lemons are a good source of vitamin C, phytonutrients and antioxidants.
3.Fresh fruit or green smoothie – Make a smoothie in the morning and give yourself a healthy boost of fruit sugar instead of caffeine. My favorite smoothie includes a plain greek yogurt, a handful of spinach, 4 strawberries (antioxidants), and a handful of blueberries (antioxidants).
4. Coconut water – Coconut water because it is loaded with potassium, in fact much more than any sports drink. Potassium helps to maintain water balance for hydration and helps trigger muscles to perform best.
5. Green Tea – With only a third of the caffeine as coffee, and a potent source of polyphenols, green tea is a good choice
Bonus: Sleep more. Get some sleep! Aim for 6-8 hours per night. There is nothing more rejuvenating and energy boosting than catching some Zzzzs! So snooze away for plenty of energy for the next day!
Tara Zimliki is a Certified Personal Trainer and founder of Tara’s Bootcamp, the Premiere Bootcamp of New Jersey. She has completed 19 marathons, hundreds of 5ks and has trained with top athletes at the University of South Carolina where she was awarded a full cross country scholarship. Tara has a degree from Rutgers University and specializes in fat loss and nutrition. In 2005, Tara ran the NYC Marathon while 8 months pregnant with her 2nd daughter, Ella. In 2008, Tara placed in the top 500 women for the NYC Marathon. And in 2011, Tara ran the NYC Marathon 6 months pregnant with her 3rd baby, Brent. Tara has been featured on many television segments including Fox, WPIX, NJ 12 and written dozens of articles on health. Tara’s practices what she preaches in all aspects of fitness and health and for this reason she is a trusted trainer that produces results. For more information on Tara visit www.tarasbootcamp.com.