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What's the Buzz About Energy Drinks?

There are healthier ways to get an energy boost, experts say.
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Easy to Drink

One of the concerns about energy drinks is how easy it is to drink large quantities of these sweet beverages.

"Energy drinks contain multiple stimulants that, when combined, can be dangerous and have a very powerful effect on the body," says Sass. Most people know how much caffeine they can tolerate, but may not be familiar with the effects of some of the other ingredients.

She describes such possible symptoms as upset stomach, leg weakness, heart palpitations, being jittery, nervousness, and more. Drink these energy drinks on an empty stomach and the effects can be magnified.

"There will be an energy burst, but it could also lead to agitation, difficulty concentrating, hyperactivity, a problem sleeping, nausea, and affect blood pressure," Farrell says

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 predictable.

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," says Farrell.

Fuel for Workouts?

Don't be misled into thinking energy drinks will power up your workouts, Sass says.

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