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Energy and Sports Drinks - Topic Overview

Concerns about energy drinks

  • Too much caffeine. Energy drinks contain caffeine and other ingredients. The label may not say how much caffeine is in the other ingredients, so it can be hard to know how much caffeine is in the drink. A single energy drink can contain as much as 500 mg of caffeine. You would have to drink 14 cans of cola to get the same amount of caffeine.1
  • Other ingredients. Energy drinks may contain other ingredients, such as kola nut or guarana. There has been little research on how these ingredients may affect the body.
  • Limited regulation. Energy drinks may be classified as dietary supplements, which are not as strictly regulated as foods. For example, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the amount of caffeine in sodas, but not in energy drinks.
  • Sugar. Energy drinks usually contain sugars, which add to the calories. This could lead to weight gain. The sugars can also lead to dental problems.
  • Withdrawal. When your body gets used to a lot of caffeine and then you stop using it, you can get symptoms including headaches, feeling tired, having trouble concentrating, and feeling grumpy.
  • Sleep. The caffeine in energy drinks may make it harder to sleep. Some people may feel they need less sleep, due to the stimulation they get from the caffeine. This can lead to sleep deprivation.

Are energy drinks safe for adults?

Consuming moderate amounts of caffeine is considered safe for adults. That means 100 mg to 200 mg of caffeine a day. There is about 95 mg of caffeine in 8 fl oz (237 mL) of brewed coffee.

Caffeine increases energy in adults and fights tiredness. But too much caffeine can cause nervousness, feeling grumpy, an upset stomach, diarrhea, and headaches.

Performance

Caffeine has been shown to improve endurance and performance in high-intensity sports. But research also notes that the improvement is mostly seen in trained athletes and may not be seen in people who exercise casually. Research also notes that taking low to moderate doses of caffeine produces the same improvement as taking higher doses.2

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