1. What is Energy Drink
Energy drinks are beverages like Red Bull, Rock Star and Monster, which contain large doses of
caffeine and other legal stimulants like guarana and ginseng. The amount of caffine in an energy
drink can range from 75 milligrams to over 200 milligrams per serving. This compares to 34
milligrams in Coke and 55 milligrams in Mountain Dew.
If a drink advertises no caffeine, the energy comes from guarana, which is the equivalent of
caffeine. 5-hour energy drink advertises “no crash,” but this claim is referring to no “sugar crash”
because the drink has artificial sweetners.
Any vitamins or amino acids like taurine are better found by eating a variety of foods and taking
a daily vitamin and mineral supplement.
What is caffeine?
Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant. It's one of the most popular drugs in the world,
consumed by up to 90% of people in the world in one form or another, but mostly in beverages.
It is a naturally occurring substance found in plants like cocoa beans, tea leaves, and kola nuts.
What are the effects of caffeine?
Caffeine's strongest effects are felt for about an hour after taking it, but some effects last 4 to 6
hours. Caffeine causes increased neuron firing in the brain which the pituitary gland perceives
as an emergency and therefore causes the adrenal glands to release adrenaline. Caffeine also
increases dopamine levels -- the neurotransmitter that is affected by drugs like amphetamines
and heroin. Obviously, it does this on a much reduced level from those drugs, but this may be
the source of caffeine's addictive quality.
While caffeine is mildly addictive, it has not been shown to have a direct link with any serious
health risks. Still, anyone who's been up all night after drinking too much coffee can tell you that
caffeine can affect a person's mood and sleep pattern. Here are some of the frequent effects of
Caffeine is a diuretic. Caffeine prompts the body to lose water through urination. This can lead
to dehydration and is the reason that caffeinated drinks are not a good idea when working out
or doing other activities that require fluids. In fact, it is suggested that you add 8 ounces of
water for every cup of coffee you drink.
Caffeine can cause you to feel jittery, skittish, restless, excitable or anxious. It can temporarily
speed the heart rate. If you're feeling stressed out, then a cup of coffee can exacerbate, rather
than help, this feeling. Too much caffeine can hurt a person's ability to concentrate, making it
difficult to study.
2. Caffeine can cause insomnia. It can be very hard to fall asleep when you take a lot of caffeine.
This is especially true if you take it at night, but is also true of higher doses earlier in the day.
Caffeine at high doses can cause headaches.
Some caffeinated beverages can have other health effects. For instance, the acid in coffee
can upset the stomach, and coffee (though not the caffeine in it) can worsen ulcers, raise
blood pressure and blood cholesterol, and speed up the heart rate, increasing the risk of heart
Caffeine can have negative effects on pregnant women or on women who would like to
become pregnant including an increased risk for difficult conception and miscarriage. Caffeine
is transmitted through the placenta and through breast milk to the baby. Therefore, if you're
pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, the FDA recommends that you stop taking
caffeine or cut back to 1 cup per day.
HISTORY OF ENERGY DRINKS
People have been getting their energy fixes for centuries. Pre-Columbian Americans
fondly drank a dark brew of toasted holly leaves and bark. Afterward they’d go puke.
The disgusting tale is totally true. Early European explorers described the practice,
although they were never quite sure if the vomiting was induced by the men or caused
by the drink. Either way, Indian men used the practice as a purification ritual before
religious ceremonies, political councils and war.
As it turns out, the dark brew had a high caffeine content. Researchers were able to
analyze traces of the beverage found in Cahokia, Ill. drinking cups dating back to at
least 1250. So even Native Americans took a caffeine boost going into battle.
Over history, people have used various beverages to feel that extra burst of energy.
During that time, trends have changed from tea, to coffee, on to soft drinks and back
and again. But just as people throughout time have sought out drugs more powerful
than caffeine, they now seek soft drinks with additional energy-boosting chemicals.
Enter energy drinks. From 2008 until 2012 the energy drink market grew 60 percent,
totaling $12.5 billion in US sales by 2012. But despite the market’s recent explosion,
energy drinks aren’t a new concept. In fact, they’ve been around since the days of the
early soda fountain.
The first ―energy‖ drink could actually be considered Coke since it originally contained
both caffeine and another stimulant—cocaine—when launched in 1886. The soft-drink
carries that history to this day – the company’s name ―Coca-Cola‖ is derived from the
3. ingredients: the coca plant from which cocaine is derived and the kola nut, the source
of caffeine. Coca-Cola’s founder used five ounces of coca leaf per gallon of syrup, but it
was reduced to a tenth of that in a later recipe. Cocaine was removed from Coke in
• Chemist William Owen first manufactured Glucozade in 1927. For years, Owen had
been trying to find an energy source for cold and flu patients. The formula was offered
to UK hospitals under the name Glucozade, but in 1929 the drink was renamed
In 1983 Lucozade rebranded itself, changing its slogan from ―Lucozade aids recovery,‖
to ―Lucozade replaces lost energy.‖ Maybe not a winner by today’s standards, but sales
tripled in the next six years.
GlaxoSmithKline-owned Lucozade Energy contains 46 milligrams of caffeine and 37
percent of an adult’s recommended daily amount of sugar.
• Dr. Enuf was developed in 1949 when Chicago businessman William Mark Swarz was
tasked with developing a soft drink full of vitamins to compete against sugared sodas
loaded with nothing but empty calories. The result was an ―energy booster‖ containing
B vitamins, caffeine and cane sugar—ingredients used in many of today’s energy
drinks. Swarz partnered with Tri-Cities Beverage, a Tennessee bottler that also
produced Mountain Dew at the time, to produce and distribute Dr. Enuf.
Tri-Cities Beverage may have sold Mountain Dew to Pepsi, but it produces Dr. Enuf to
this very day. Original, diet, herbal and diet herbal varieties can be found at grocers in
northeastern Tennessee, southwestern Virginia and western North Carolina. All bottles
of Dr. Enuf contain at least 80 percent of the recommended daily requirements of
thiamine, niacin, potassium and iodine. Herbal varieties also contain ginseng and
• Lipovitan may look and sound like cough syrup, but it’s actually an energy drink
manufactured in Japan since 1962. Marketed to boost physical and mental fatigue, the
drink—sold under the names Libogen and Livita in some parts of the world—is popular
in East Asia. The bright yellow drink contains primarily taurine, an ingredient in Red
Bull. The brown-colored bottles also contain caffeine. Although the largest bottles of
Lipovitan contain 3,000 milligrams of taurine, they contain a warning label advising not
to consume more than 100 milligrams of the chemical a day.
• Another popular energy drink in Southeast Asia is sometimes called ―Thai Red Bull.‖
KratingDaeng was first introduced in Thailand in 1976, and can now be found in Europe,
Oceana and North America. The sweet, non-carbonated drink contains caffeine, taurine
and B-vitamins. Interestingly, it was named after the gaur, a large, wild cattle relative
4. that lives in Southeast Asia. Sound familiar? Is should, Krating Dong was the basis for
Red Bull, but the Asian beverage definitely made its mark first with massive sales
throughout Asia in the 1980s.
Energy drink history was made in 1982 when the marketing director for a German
toothpaste company visited Thailand. Something that crazy had to be fate, right?
When Blendex’ DietrickMateschitz drank some KratingDaeng and found it cured his jet
lag, he had an epiphany. He must tell the world about this miracle drink! So Mateschitz
worked with KratingDaeng founder ChaleoYoovidhya to adapt the drink’s formula to
Western tastes. Together, they launched Red Bull in 1987. Chaleo, born to a poor Thai-
Chinese family around 1930, died a multi-billionaire. (http://wallstreetinsanity.com/the-
KINDS OF ENERGY DRINKS
Carbonated Soft Drinks
Cheers (a low-cost citrus flavoured soda from Cosmos)
Jaz Cola (locally available cola from Coca-Cola)
Pop Cola (distributed by Coca-Cola)
Calamansi – ice cold drink made with lime and mint
Sarsi – a Sarsaparilla rootbeer originally made by Cosmos Bottling, now part of Coca-Cola
Squiz (orange and grape-flavoured sodas, from the Zest-O Corporation)
Teem – low cost citrus flavoured soda popular in the 1970s
Twist (lemon-lime soda, from the Zest-O Corporation)
Extra Joss (powdered energy drink)
I-On by Revicon
Sting manufactured by the Pepsi Corporation
BIG 250 (line of juices available in six flavours, from the Zest-O Corporation)
Eight O'Clock (powdered juice beverage)
Fres-C (powdered drink mix available in three flavours)
Magnolia Fruit Drinks
Mix Frutz (by Innobev, Inc.)
One Plus (line of iced teas available in nine flavours, from the Zest-O Corporation)
Orchard Fresh (line of bottled juices available in seven flavours, from the Zest-O Corporation)
Sundays – made by snack foods giant Liwayway Marketing Corp.
Sunkist – available in tetrahedral packs, Tetra packs, doy packs and powdered juice forms.
Sunglo (line of juices and powdered juices available in seven flavours, from the Zest-O Corporation)
Zest-O (popular line of juices available in twelve flavours, from the Zest-O Corporation)
COMPOSITION OF ENERGY DRINKS
Energy drinks generally contain methylxanthines (including caffeine), B vitamins, and herbs.
Other commonly used ingredients are carbonated water, guarana, yerba mate, açaí,
and taurine, plus various forms
of ginseng, maltodextrin, inositol, carnitine, creatine, glucuronolactone, and ginkgo biloba.
Some contain high levels of sugar, and many brands offer artificially sweetened 'diet' versions.
A common ingredient in most energy drinks is caffeine (often in the form of guarana or yerba
mate). Caffeine is the stimulant that is found in coffee and tea. There is little or no evidence that
any of the ingredients found in energy drinks other than caffeine or sugar have a significant
Energy drinks contain about three times the amount of caffeine as cola. Twelve ounces of Coca-
Cola Classic contains 35 mg of caffeine, whereas a Monster Energy Drink contains 120 mg of
Do Energy Drinks Really Work?
What's Really in an Energy Drink?
6. Known for their fast-acting jolt, energy drinks like Red Bull and Monster tout a high dose of caffeine and a
varying blend of "energizing" extras that include vitamins and amino acids and herbal supplements. But
despite the eye-catching cans and slick marketing, the main ingredient responsible for that mojo is good
old-fashioned sugar. "Calories are energy, plain and simple," says Katherine Zeratsky, RD, a dietitian at
the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. "It's what your body uses for fuel. Any food, whether it's a turkey
sandwich, a can of soda, or an apple, has energy. Energy drinks should be thought of as calorie drinks."
They can pack a lot of them, too: A 16-ounce can of Red Bull Energy Drink has 220 calories, and a 24-
ounce can of Rockstar Energy Drink has a whopping 420, almost as much as a double cheeseburger.
Unlike most foods, however, most of the calories in energy beverages come from simple sugars. Devoid
of fiber, fat, and protein, three nutrients that slow digestion, the sugar hits the bloodstream quickly, giving
you the superfast rush you crave. Sadly, it's short-lived. "Your body wants only so much sugar in the
blood at a time," Zeratsky says. "When it receives a big load, the pancreas shoots out any additional
insulin to push sugar it doesn't currently need into fat cells." In the long run, having too many energy
drinks, like consuming too much soda, can cause weight gain. In the short term, you are faced with the
infamous energy-drink crash. Either way, you're left tired and still looking for a lift.
Hoping to skip the sugar and save calories, some women opt for the sugar-free versions of their favorite
energy drinks, relying on the high caffeine content to give them a boost. "Caffeine is widely studied and
well-known for making you feel more alert," says Matthew Ganio, PhD, a researcher at the Institute
for Exercise and Environmental Medicine at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. "But its effects
come from being a stimulant, meaning it makes you feel energetic by offsetting the mental and physical
fatigue that occurs throughout the day, especially during exercise." Currently, the FDA doesn't limit the
amount of caffeine in energy drinks, so manufacturers often pack from 50 to 200-plus milligrams into a
16-ounce serving (the average cup of coffee contains anywhere from 40 to 180 milligrams). Check the
label, however, because some drinks go way beyond that range: A 16-ounce can of Wired X 344, for
instance, has 344 milligrams. "More isn't always better with caffeine," says John Higgins, MD, director of
exercise physiology at Memorial Hermann Sports Medicine Institute in Houston. In some people, more
than 200 milligrams can cause insomnia, nervousness, headache, and nausea.
As for the effectiveness of the brand-specific blend of supplements and amino acids, it's debatable.
"These ingredients are mainly about smart marketing," says Kevin Clauson, associate professor at Nova
Southeastern University College of Pharmacy in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. "Some have studies backing
the beneficial claims, but most of these ingredients are in quantities far below the amounts needed for
any actual benefit." If you'd prefer a low-tech boost, go for a glass of milk, a cup of yogurt with fruit, or an
apple with a little peanut butter. The mix of carbohydrate, protein, and fat will ultimately slow digestion,
thus preventing the spike and subsequent roller-coaster drop in blood sugar. "Your energy will last longer,
and you'll get a nice dose of nutrients along with the calories," Zeratsky says.
MISCONCEPTIONS OF ENERGY DRINKS
Several people wake up every day and the first thing they go to grab is an energy drink. Even
more so I’ve seen several people over the years in the gym that use these drinks to get a quick
perk up before their workout to only be let down with a harsh caffeine and sugar mix crash. So
the reasoning for writing this article is that I want people to be aware of how unhealthy these
energy drinks really are. Personally every morning I’ll have 1-2 cups of black coffee to get my
day started and for a pre-workout boost I’ll have 200-300mg of caffeine anhydrous (you can get
this either in pill or powder form). I did some research of the top 5 best selling energy drinks to
break down the nutrition facts and to open your eyes to just how much sugar you are taking in
and slowing your progress. Also, you might not have known why you feel lethargic after the
buzz of these wear off.
7. Red Bull (*Est. $2.20 for 8.3 ounces) introduced the energy drink craze to the U.S.; it's still the
best-selling energy drink in America, and the energy drink by which all others are measured.
Interestingly enough, Red Bull is made in Austria and then shipped around the world. Red Bull
contains 27g sugars, a measley 80 mg of caffeine (for the 8.3-ounce size), taurine and B
vitamins, but no added herbal stimulants. My opinion is to completely stay away from these!
Red Bull also makes Red Bull Sugar Free (*Est. $2.20 for 8.3 ounces). If you decide to drink
the sugar free still be aware of the artificial sweet-ners (which I’m not a fan of at all) and keep
these to a minimum.
Monster Energy (*Est. $2 for 16 oz.) is one of the best-selling energy drinks in the U.S. Several
reviewers mention it as the energy drink to try after Red Bull because the taste and energy
boost are similar to Red Bull, yet it comes in a can that is twice the size for about the same
price. Monster Energy has 54 grams of sugars, 160 mg of caffeine and 2,000 mg of taurine.
The Energy Drink Ratings blog says that this sweet-tasting citrus drink has a good kick and
gives you good taste for the money. Monster also makes a variety of other flavors. I remember
when I didn’t know anything about nutrition etc. Monster was my pre-workout boost of choice. I
never understood why I felt so bad afterwards. It was the whopping 54 grams of sugar that
was spiking my blood sugar levels and then the crash came...and it would come hard!
No Fear is a brand of clothing (I used to wear these t-shirts also had the stickers on my baseball
batting helmet growing up) that partnered with Pepsi to create an energy drink originally known
as SoBe No Fear. In 2008, the SoBe name was dropped. No Fear Regular (*est. $2.30 for 16
ounces), gets mixed reviews for taste and energy. No Fear contains 66 grams of sugars, 174
mg of caffeine and 2,000 mg of taurine per 16-ounce can.
5-Hour Energy (*Est. $2.50 for 2 ounces) scores well with reviewers for energy kick. The
Energy Drink Ratings blog and RateItAll.com rank 5-Hour Energy highly, and it has more than
400 user ratings at Screaming Energy. 5-Hour Energy is packaged in 2-ounce shots, packing in
an estimated 100 mg of caffeine per shot, or the equivalent of a cup of coffee, plus 2,000
percent of the daily value for vitamin B6 and 8,333 percent of the daily value of vitamin B12. 5-
Hour Energy is sweetened with sucralose and contains zero net carbohydrates. 5-Hour Energy
is not made with additional herbal stimulants, but it does contain amino acids and includes
taurine. One reviewer calls 5-Hour Energy "little more than a shot of vitamins B6 and B12,
amino acids, with a caffeine chaser." But unlike most energy drinks, 5-Hour Energy is a low-
calorie drink (four calories). It comes in three flavors: berry, lemon-lime and orange.Nutritionally
these are the best (along with Rockstar Sugar free and Rockstar Zero Carb) but honestly
with 5-hour energy I’ve had these and I could fall asleep after drinking this if I was in need of a
Among the top-selling brands, Rockstar (*est. $2.20 for 16 ounces) One 16-ounce can contains
160 mg of caffeine and 1,000 mg of taurine, as well as 62 grams of sugars, with guarana,
ginseng and other herbal extracts as stimulants. The company has expanded from the original
formula to offer other energy drinks including Rockstar Sugar Free (*Est. $2.30 for 16
ounces), Rockstar Zero Carb
Bottom line is that I do not advise these drinks. First off, the regular ones that are packed with
sugar shouldn’t even be a question of should I have this or not. Secondly, the sugar free and
zero carb ones are still packed with artificial flavoring agents. Which that will be up to you if you
want that in your body or not. Personally I don’t use them. Like I said previously I use 200-
300mg of caffeine anhydrous and I never have the dreaded crash afterwards.
8. TRUTHS OF ENERGY DRINKS
According to market researcher Packaged Facts, the US energy drink/shot market was worth $12.5 billion in 2012
and is predicted to be worth $21.5 billion by 2017.1 However, Packaged Facts also state that energy drinks and shots
account for only 3% of nonalcoholic beverage sales,1 and according to BeverageDaily.com, manufacturers are
looking for ways to boost sales by increasing consumption among existing users and attracting new consumers.2
Surveys have found that 30% to 50% of adolescents and young adults consume energy drinks.3 Energy drink
manufacturers that sponsor events often highlight extreme or thrill-seeking sports that appeal to teens and young
adults. Red Bull sponsors a competition for the longest rally car jump, while Monster Energy supports the AMA
The long-term safety of the unique combinations of ingredients found in increasingly popular energy drinks is
unknown. As the popularity of these products has grown, so have concerns about their safety. Most reports of
negative effects are believed to be due to excessive consumption of the caffeine these products contain.
This continuing education course explores the increasing presence of energy drinks and shots in the marketplace; the
potential consequences of overconsumption, especially in combination with alcohol; labeling issues; and the
misconceptions about these products’ function and efficacy.
The truth about energy drinks:
• They have a lot of sugar and calories and are low in nutritional value.
• They contain large amounts of caffeine. Depending on the serving size
and the type of energy drink, the caffeine per serving ranges from 33
mg to a whopping 141 mg!
• Caffeine can cause dehydration, upset stomach, nervousness, heart
palpitations, headaches, and sleep problems.
• They contain ingredients (herbs and amino acids) whose safety and
effectiveness have not been tested. Any claims regarding herbal
ingredients do not have to be proven and are unregulated.