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 run.
Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD/LD, WebMD Nutrition Expert