What's the Buzz About Energy Drinks?
There are healthier ways to get an energy boost, experts say.
Energy Drinks and Alcohol
Because alcohol is a depressant and caffeine is a stimulant, mixing energy
drinks with alcohol is a bad idea, experts say.
"Both are also diuretics that can lead to dehydration and ultimately, drinking more alcohol,
because the burst of energy from the sugar and caffeine misrepresent the state
of inebriation," says Farrell.
She compares it to the misconception that coffee can sober someone who has
had too much to drink: "Using coffee to sober up just makes you feel more
energetic; it does not decrease the effects of inebriation."
The result is that you may feel less intoxicated than you really are.
"These products may be natural, but they can be very dangerous when mixed
with alcohol," says Sass.
Club soda, water, and fruit juices are better mixers with alcohol. Sass
recommends choosing a mixer you have had before, so the result is more
If you want to dance all night long, a glass of water is a better choice
than an energy drink between cocktails, to keep you well-hydrated.
And whatever you do, don't drink alcohol on an empty stomach. "Have a
snack before you go out so the absorption of alcohol is slower and safer,"
Fuel for Workouts?
Don't be misled into thinking energy drinks will power up your workouts,
"If you take an energy drink before exercise, it could increase your blood pressure,
overstimulate your heart or nervous system, resulting in a number of potential
side effects on your body," she says. "You might think there would be
no risk to drinking an energy drink, but some of these products have powerful,
drug-like effects and should not be underestimated."
Her advice: "If you have any medical condition, hypertension, or heart
disease, avoid all drinks that have multiple stimulants."
If you want to try an energy drink, she recommends trying a small amount the
first time with a meal to see how your body reacts to it. She advises avoiding
physical exertion during this trial period.
Need a Boost?
When you need a boost -- whether to study for a test, prepare for a workout,
or just get past an afternoon slump -- there are healthier ways than energy
drinks, the experts say. Among the energy-boosters they recommend are a healthy
physical activity, and a good night's sleep.
And when you need a quick fix? "Energy drinks sound like they would be
better than a latte, but a coffee drink made with skim or soy milk is a much
better choice because we know more about the effects of caffeine," says
They recommend no more than 2-3 servings a day of caffeinated beverages,
preferably served along with food. If you find caffeine overly stimulating, try
decaf or half-caffeinated beverages.