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Energy and Sports Drinks - Topic Overview

Alcohol

Adults and teens may mix energy drinks with alcohol. The caffeine in these drinks can make the effects of alcohol harder to notice. People may feel they are not as intoxicated as they really are. Mixing caffeine with alcohol may cause you to drink more, because the caffeine may keep you awake longer.

Pregnancy

In small amounts, caffeine is considered safe for the developing baby (fetus). But if you're pregnant, it's a good idea to keep your caffeine intake below 200 mg a day because:3

  • More caffeine may be connected to a higher rate of miscarriage. There isn't enough evidence to know for sure.4
  • Caffeine can interfere with sleep for both you and the fetus.

The total caffeine in an energy drink may be more than the recommended amount.

Are sports drinks useful?

Water is usually the best choice before, during, and after physical activity.

You might benefit from a sports drink if you have sweated a lot during activities that are intense or last a long time. For example, a runner or cyclist in a long-distance event could use a sports drink to hydrate and replace electrolytes.

Sports drinks may contain sugars but have little nutritional value. They add calories. So if you're not exercising long or hard, sports drinks could lead to weight gain. The sugars in these drinks can also lead to dental problems.

Children and teens

Children and teens use carbohydrate for energy. A balanced diet gives most children and teens the carbohydrate and electrolytes they need. Extra carbohydrate and electrolytes from sports drinks aren't needed, even after short physical activity or exercise.

Before, after, and during activity, water is the best choice for children and teens. A sports drink may be useful if children and teens have exercised intensively or for a long period of time. If your child is an athlete or takes part in intensive or long-lasting activities or exercises, talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian about how to best use sports drinks.

What do you need to remember about using these drinks?

  • Water is usually the best choice before, during, and after physical activity.
  • Don't use sports drinks to replace water or low-fat milk during meals or snacks.
  • Don't use energy drinks in place of sports drinks.
  • Don't allow children or teens to use energy drinks.

This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 26, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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