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Energy and Sports Drinks - Topic Overview

What are energy and sports drinks?

If you listen to the advertising, you might think energy and sports drinks do it all. More energy. Improved performance. Better concentration.

But do they? And what's the difference between energy drinks and sports drinks?

Energy drinks

People use energy drinks because these drinks claim to improve energy, help with weight loss, increase endurance, and improve concentration. The main ingredient in energy drinks is caffeine. They also may contain extract from the guarana plant (which is similar to caffeine), the amino acid taurine, carbohydrate in the form of sugar, and vitamins.

Examples of energy drinks include Monster, Red Bull, and Rockstar.

Sports drinks

People use sports drinks to replace water (rehydrate) and electrolytes lost through sweating after activity. Electrolytes are minerals, such as potassium, calcium, sodium, and magnesium, that keep the body's balance of fluids at the proper level. You may lose electrolytes when you sweat.

Sports drinks can also restore carbohydrate that the body uses during activity.

Sports drinks often contain carbohydrate in the form of sugar, as well as electrolytes and minerals and sometimes protein, vitamins, or caffeine. They come in different flavors.

Examples of sports drinks include Accelerade, Gatorade, and Powerade.

Are energy drinks safe for children and teens?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children and teensnot use energy drinks.1 The best way for children and teens to improve energy is through a balanced diet. Getting enough sleep also can help keep energy levels up.

Why should children and teens avoid energy drinks? One reason is that the main ingredient in energy drinks is caffeine. It can cause problems in children and teens, including:

  • Higher blood pressure.
  • Sleep problems.

Energy drinks may make existing problems worse in children and teens. For example, energy drinks:

  • Can make high blood pressure and abnormal heartbeats more likely in those with heart problems.
  • Can increase blood sugar in those with diabetes.
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