It’s already common knowledge that sugary drinks can be incredibly bad for your health, but just how bad are energy drinks for you? Well, if you take the amount of caffeine they have into consideration, then you might want to refrain from drinking them based on that alone.
Why are energy drinks bad for you?
Energy drinks are not just packed full of sugar but normally other stimulants such as caffeine and taurine. Although we all know that caffeine is a good way to get a boost, high levels can be damaging to your blood pressure. And as for taurine, well… It has been linked to some kidney diseases in studies.
So we know that energy drinks are bad for you – lets look at the how and why.
Let’s start with the most obvious one: the health of your heart. After consuming an energy drink you will have an increase in heart rate and arterial blood pressure, which can cause issues if the process is repeated continuously. It’s also been documented that ventricular arrhythmias, ST segment elevation, arterial dilatation, aneurysm formation, dissection, rupture of large arteries and QT prolongation is more common in those who over consume energy drinks. These physical symptoms should be enough to make you realize just how bad are energy drinks for you.
The high amount of sugar which consists of mostly glucose, sucrose and high fructose corn syrup can also lead people to obesity and type 2 diabetes. But even if you avoid drinking too much of these sugary drinks and keep it to a minimum, you are still causing issues with your intestinal bacteria, which can lead to a myriad of issues including metabolic syndrome.
Since energy drinks are a fluid, a part of them will eventually get absorbed into your blood, then travel straight to your kidneys where they can wreak havoc. Those who have been drinking energy drinks in the long term are more susceptible to kidney stones.
The crazy part is that energy drinks are often presented as an energy boost for a workout or sports… You don’t need that sugar boost to go and enjoy a sport – and if you’re working out after drinking a Monster or Red Bull, you’re probably just burning off the sugar.
But let’s say that you’re lucky, your body processes energy drinks just fine and you don’t run into physical issues. If that’s the case then you will only need to deal with the psychological effects. Most people experience anxiety when they consume energy drinks, which is mostly because of the increased heart rate. However, you can also develop insomnia and even depression. There have been cases where people even had panic attacks. They were likely dealing with other issues though, like stress, which made things worse, however energy drinks were the ignition to the panic attacks themselves.
There is also the aspect of addiction. It’s very clear that the caffeine in energy drinks is addictive, no matter what fluid you consume it in, so if you drink enough of it consistently then eventually you will develop an addiction. If you have ever been around a person with an addiction or have experienced it yourself, then you know how much they can affect the addict’s life. First of all, an addiction can drain a lot of your money. You will prioritize having energy drinks around a little more, than having other things. Second, you will likely experience anxiety regarding not having the item of your addiction. This, coupled with the heart conditions that energy drinks come with will definitely lead you down a bad road, where the end goal is a hospital bed.
If not energy drinks, then what?
Giving up on energy drinks is quite a feat (I should know, I’m in the middle of trying) and you need to know how to give your body the release that an energy drink would. So, since I know how awful quitting is, I’m not going to lie or give you fake advice, like telling you to just drink water.
Instead, let’s walk down a process where you can slowly get used to not having energy drinks.
This is the first route that you can take and it’s for those who are more into the energy boost of an energy drink, not the taste.
I know, still very caffeinated, however, if you drink it black then it is still much better than any energy drink. Plus, it’s socially more acceptable, which in reality isn’t worth much, but you will feel a bit better about yourself.
Once you’re used to the bitterness of coffee and don’t have a heavy craving for the sweetness anymore, you can move onto taking caffeine out of the equation. It will feel like a waste, to spend money on a drink that isn’t even giving you a boost or keeping you awake.
This step will likely be the hardest, since you will start having to deal with the effects of withdrawal. Migraines, muscle and joint pain and just general discomfort. You will also be more tired than usual, which will really test your will to quit. However, once you’re through it you can rest assured and choose a new drink to have around. Taking the step from decaf coffee to water is way more manageable.
This is the second route you can take, where you keep the taste and bubbliness instead of the caffeine.
Coke, Sprite, Fanta, whatever bubbly, sugary drink you prefer. You will get to keep taste, but you will immediately go through the caffeine withdrawal. If you drink coke, then it might be milder though, since that still has a bit of caffeine.
The danger to switching out energy drinks for soda is that they will feel more safe when it comes to your health, meaning that you will likely drink more of it than you did of energy drinks. You should try avoiding this at all costs, since it will either become a new addiction or you will end up gaining a ton of weight.
The next step is to take away the bubbles. The texture is a big part of energy drinks, so for some, this can be a bit hard. However, fruit juices are just as tasty and are way healthier for your body than sodas and energy drinks will ever be. If you’d like, you can even stick to just drinking fruit juices if you really want the taste, just make sure you don’t have too much, otherwise the calories will add up over time.
My trick was drinking orange juice, since it was sour like an energy drink and still had a bit of a stinge to it, making the texture less plain. Or you can also go with fruit juices that have pulp in them.
The end goal for both of these methods is to get to a point where you are fine with drinking water throughout the day and sodas, energy drinks, coffees are just a little treat you get yourself once every couple of days. In short – drink liquid, lots of it. And ideally drink more water.
It’s okay to have an energy drink once in a while, just try to keep it to a minimum and have your health as your priority.