Q: Everyone at my gym seems to be drinking energy drinks. Do they
really give you more "oomph?" And are they healthy?
A: Energy drinks are all the rage among not just athletes but
also young adults. And hundreds of varieties are currently available, including
Rage, Pimp Juice, Red Bull, and Monster. These drinks claim to make you more
alert or boost your sports performance -- or both.
But here’s the danger: Most energy drinks get their kick from stimulants,
such as caffeine, guarana, ginseng, taurine, and ginkgo biloba. Some energy
drinks have as much caffeine as five cups of coffee -- or 10 times as much as a
can of cola. Many also contain large amounts of sugar.
Granted, stimulants may make you feel great while working out (or just plain
working). But consuming too much of these substances can cause sleep problems,
nausea, vomiting, high blood pressure, anxiety, heart palpitations, and
seizures. They also can alter your perception of fatigue and pain, which means
you might push yourself past your natural limits.
The best energy drink may very well be water, since staying hydrated can
help you think more clearly, exercise harder, and stay healthier in the long
Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD/LD, WebMD Nutrition Expert