Luke Stanaway

Registered Nutritionist

Energy Drink Dangers: What You Need to Know 

Energy Drink Dangers: What You Need to Know 

Energy Drink Dangers: What You Need to Know 

Key Takeways

  • Energy drinks have been shown to increase blood pressure on average by 3-4 points.

  • A study showed that Red Bull, a well-known energy drink, resulted in higher average blood pressure compared to coffee with the same amount of caffeine.

  • Energy drinks may also impact artery function and have been linked to heart rhythm issues.

  • Research shows that energy drinks do not improve athletic performance and may actually increase inflammation.

  • It is important to consume energy drinks in moderation and be aware of the potential dangers, especially for people with a family history of cardiac issues.

Have you ever wondered what kind of impact those energy drinks you love so much are having on your body? You're not alone. With the energy drink industry raking in billions of dollars and over 500 different products on the market, it's important to consider the potential negative effects these drinks might have. 

Red Bull is probably the most well-known and studied energy drink out there. But what about all the other brands? Well, according to research, most energy drinks have been shown to increase blood pressure by an average of 3 to 4 points. But is a 3-4 point increase really that significant? Actually, it can be. If you have high blood pressure on a regular basis, you have a 20% higher risk of dying from a stroke and a 12% higher risk of dying from a heart attack. 

Energy Drinks and Caffeine

In a study comparing the effects of Red Bull to caffeine supplements on blood pressure, researchers gave participants either four small cans of Red Bull or four cups of coffee with the same amount of caffeine. Despite having the same amount of caffeine as coffee, Red Bull resulted in significantly higher average blood pressure – about five points higher than coffee. This raises the question: is it the taurine or the other added ingredients in energy drinks that make them so dangerous? 

Energy Drinks and Cardiovascular Health

Energy drinks may also have an impact on artery function. Just one large can of Monster Energy has been shown to cause a significant decrease in the ability of our arteries to relax within 90 minutes. However, the most dangerous risk may be the EKG changes that indicate an increased risk of heart rhythm issues. There have been reports of young people experiencing cardiac arrest after drinking as few as seven or eight cans in a row, or even just three cans one after the other. Some people may be more vulnerable to these effects, and those with a family history of sudden cardiac death or fainting may be at the greatest risk. 

Energy Drinks for Athletes

But what about the supposed benefits of energy drinks, particularly for athletes? Energy drinks were initially marketed towards athletes, and they've been a huge success – with around 80% of college athletes consuming them. But do energy drinks actually improve athletic performance? According to research, the answer is no. "Preexercise energy drink consumption does not improve endurance," and in fact, it may increase inflammation. A simulated 25-mile cycling road race showed that Red Bull had no more athletic performance-enhancing potential than sugar water and caffeine. In fact, Red Bull "induced greater inflammatory-related responses" than caffeinated sugar water or a placebo. There was also no discernible effect on resistance training. 

Are Energy Drinks Worth It?

So, are energy drinks worth the potential risks? It's hard to say. While there is little evidence to support the beneficial effects of energy drinks, they may still have a place in certain situations. But it's important to be aware of the potential dangers and to consume them in moderation. And if you have a family history of cardiac issues or are otherwise concerned about the effects of energy drinks on your body, it's definitely worth discussing with a healthcare professional. 


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