Archive for July 2013

Energy Drinks and Caffeine

Energy Drinks and Caffeine

*Foreword – I do NOT endorse, condone, or condemn caffeine usage; this article is for informative and educational purposes ONLY*

Do you know how much caffeine you take in per day? Do you know how much is too much? Do you know how many cups of coffee it takes to equal a Red Bull? The answers to these may be shocking. Energy drinks get a bad rap now-a-days, mainly because the media mostly publishes stories about young children having heart attacks and other defective problems that are presumably a result of the horrible energy drinks consumed daily. Now, don’t get me wrong, UGA kids funneling Red Bulls is an inconceivably irresponsible act (sorry all my friends who participated), but for the normal one-a-dayers, you may not have to worry as much…or should you?

I am neither advocating nor condemning energy drinks. Instead, my aim is to give a straight-forward, unbiased presentation in this blog. For instance, is it better for a student to drink 4 cups of green tea per day or one can of Red Bull (in terms of caffeine content only)? Surprisingly, child A would get less caffeine by drinking one can of Red Bull per day (80mg/serving in an 8.4oz. can) vs. Child B drinking four cups of green tea per day (25mg caffeine per day)!

Sometimes people will occasionally catch me sipping on a Red Bull energy drink and scold me; however, I see them drinking 3 or more sodas per day! They have just consumed anywhere between 100 – 120mg vs my little 80mg. If they drink a cup of coffee (typically 80mg of caffeine) or two glasses of sweet tea (roughly 60mg) at any point during the day with their three cans of cola, they have just surpassed my one Red Bull caffeine amount by more than double!

I hope this blog is getting you interested in investigating your daily caffeine amount, for this is my intent. Here is a nice article written by David Schmidt, equipped with a nice caffeine chart on the last page of the report: Caffeine Amounts in Energy Drinks, Tea, and Coffee

So, whenever you drink that “coke” next time (which could refer to ANY carbonated beverage here in the South – y’all southerners know exactly what I mean), maybe you will think to start calculating you daily consumption. Try to keep it at least under 150mg per day if possible; however, some studies have shown that athletes are safe to stay within the 200-300mg daily consumption range. If you are pregnant, or just want more reading on this subject, please check out this great article from Americanpregnancy.org: Caffiene Amount or Limit During Pregnancy

And, here is an alternate view of consuming caffeine while pregnant (Published by ACOG on PubMed):  Caffeine Consumption During Pregnancy Safe or Not?

If you are a body-builder, Muscle & Fitness advocates 200mg as being a good threshold. See here: http://www.muscleandfitness.com/supplements/build-muscle/5-fat-burners-build-mass


So, What’s the Bottom Line?

Check out this research from the University of Arizona and decide for yourself:

University of Arizona Study on Caffeine

Now, of course, there are alternate views that consider just about any amount too much. For instance, see this article published on WebMD:

Caffeine and Your Heart…Is it Safe?

Some things to keep in mind about caffeine:

It is considered to be a drug.

It is widely considered in the sports world to be an ergogenic drug, or performance enhancer, at certain levels. See here at Pubmed: Is Caffeine a Drug?

At about 350mg, some athletes come close to flunking drug tests. See here: Caffeine and Sports Performance for Athletes

It will dehydrate you because of its diuretic properties.

It is a vasoconstrictor, and therefore certain health issues should be taken into consideration.

It is beneficial for certain types of headaches (i.e. migraines).

It is good for focus, mental alertness, and concentration in certain amounts.

Caffeine effects typically peak at about 30minutes and last for only an hour in total.

Some energy drinks contain more than 200mg in one can!

Many energy drinks contain an unbelievable amount of sugar in them along with the caffeine. This makes this doubly atrocious.

If you are going to drink an energy drink anyway, here are my two top picks: Red Bull (Red Bull Caffeine Content) and Rockstar Recovery (Rockstar Caffeine Content )

Clicking on the links above takes you to their reviews by www.energyfiend.com , a good website for personal information concerning caffeine amounts in various products.

Why I like Rockstar Recovery:

Although they contain 160mg of caffeine per can, they taste great. Also, they only contain 6g of sugar in the whole can! But, given the high caffeine content, sip on one throughout the day rather than consuming it all in one sitting. Also, they contain items like milk thistle (a good herb that cleans the liver), and panax ginseng (good for memory). Now, whether they contain a significant enough amount of milk thistle and panax ginseng is up for debate. That typical “let-down” that is so common to energy drinks is not experienced here, because the sugar is so low.

Why I like Red Bull:

They contain the same amount of caffeine as one average 8oz. cup of coffee (Starbucks drinkers, your cups contain more than double a Red Bull  at a whopping 200mg!). Also, there is no let-down experienced here either because of Red Bull’s low sugar content (27mg) and sugar composition of sucrose (which is a disaccharide comprised of glucose  + fructose). Therefore, the breakdown is longer than usual and creates a longer-lasting effect from the energy drink.

So, there you have it. That’s my two cents – for what it’s worth.