Some resort to coffee or tea for that extra morning kick, while others grab an energy drink. But energy drinks have fewer pros than you might think, says Lauren Antonucci, a board-certified specialist in sports dietetics and registered dietitian. Here’s a breakdown of some of the most common drinks on the market. Our advice? Indulge at your own risk.
1. Red Bull
One of the most popular energy drinks today, Red Bull contains most of the staple ingredients of an energy drink: caffeine, niacin (B-3), sodium citrate, and taurine. This drink has been linked to stomachaches, acid reflux, severe mood changes, and rapid heartbeat.
2. 5-hour Energy
5-hour Energy boasts the perk of liquid energy without the inevitable crash. However, the New York Times reports that since 2009, 5-hour Energy has been mentioned in approximately 90 filings with the Food and Drug Administration. These include more than 30 incidents of serious or life-threatening injuries like heart attacks, convulsions and, in one case, spontaneous abortion.
Made by Mountain Dew, Kickstart is marketed as the “morning drink” for people who don’t like coffee or tea. It contains less caffeine than a cup of coffee (at 16 ounces per can, it has 92 milligrams compared to a 16-ounce cup of Starbucks coffee, which has 330 milligrams). Though it contains 5% fruit juice, Kickstart also has artificial flavoring and comparable amounts of sugar (20 grams vs. 27 grams per 16 ounces) to Coca-Cola.
Made popular by the 2008 assassin movie Wanted, Powerhorse contains high levels of taurine. Taurine may seem safe since your body produces it naturally, but constant intake can lead to high blood pressure, mania, stroke, and heart disease.
5. Monster Energy Drink
Popular among BMX bikers, Monster has similar ingredients to Red Bull and Power Horse. It also contains ginseng and B vitamins that provide a “niacin flush,” which gives you a burst of energy. Antonucci suggests picking up a regular B vitamin from the drugstore instead of turning to Monster — that way, you bypass the unhealthy flavors and stimulants.