I’ve been drinking a sugar-free Rockstar or Monster almost every day for the past couple of years. I love the taste and convenience. And I love the energy boost to the mind and body. It is my guilty pleasure and as an older fighter, I can use all the help I can get. However, as an educated nutritionist I fully realize this is not optimal for long-term health. Here are some of the risks that myself and the rest of the energy drink addicts need to be aware of:
Caffeine is the main active ingredient in any energy drink. It is safe in reasonable quantities for healthy adults. But realize that heart rate and blood pressure increase with every can and increasing dosage. So, if you have heart issues, on medications, or underage, then stay away! For the rest of us, between 80 to 300 mgs per can is safe but also addictive.
Most of us eat and drink too much sugar. So, choose sugar-free whenever possible. Artificial sweeteners do carry their own risks. They can kill healthy bacteria in the gut and some links to cancer in excessive amounts. This is not ideal, but at the least, they won’t make you fatter.
Now the real issue with energy drinks is that they are loosely regulated. Which means they can throw anything in there. The stimulant enhancing; B vitamins, amino acid Taurine, herbal Guarana plant, and L-carnitine are some common ingredients. There is limited long-term research on these but generally considered safe in moderation. Any other ingredient or proprietary formula you see on a label, you should be skeptical of.
Overall, if you’re a healthy adult an occasional energy drink is no big deal. But if you find yourself drifting into the excessive zone like me, then it may be time to check yourself. A healthier alternative I’ve been using lately is: A caffeine tablet mixed with ice cold water flavored with Crystal light, Mio or G2. Less $$, tooth decay and long-term worries.