Energy drink market is fastest growing segment in the beverage industry. And that is what I don’t understand: Why millions young Americans feel the way that they need to artificially boost their activities? More or less healthy nutritious diet with vegetables, grains and meats can deliver enough energy for any kind of mental and physical work. And yet according to the recent report on Energy Drinks in the USA (PDF), energy drinks will see their strongest growth between the years 2007 and 2012 predominately due to consumption by young adults 18 to 34 year old.
Let’s consider one of the top brands, Rockstar Energy Drink, Double Strength, Double Size energy supplement produced in Las Vegas, USA.
You get 280 calories from sugar per can, moderate risk from three questionable chemicals (red segments) DDFI = 19/28 ~ 0.7 and low nutritional value of DDNF = 28/49 ~ 0.6. Benzoic acid, a preservative, is capable of producing benzene, a health hazard. CSPI has recently filed petition to ban caramel coloring because of presence of carcinogenic impurities caused by use of ammonia in the manufacturing (CSPI Caramel coloring petition).
- Caffeine is a psycho stimulant which is ~ 7 times toxicity of THC-9, major cannabis (marijuana) constituent
- Taurine, a natural amino acid with multiply important bio-chemical functions
- L-Carnitine, an amino acid derivative which helps breakdown fats
- Inositol, a carbohydrate naturally produced in the human body where it serves a number of functions including breakdown of fats and reducing blood cholesterol
- Guarana seed extract. eHow: What Is Guarana Seed Extract?
- Ginkgo biloba leaf extract. Review of biological actions and clinical applications
- Panax ginseng root extract and
- Milk thistle extract, another plant extract.
Rockstar Sugar Free version contains the same ingredients except two bio-chemically foreign substances (two more red segments in the diagram), sucralose and acesulfame potassium are used instead of the sugar and glucose macronutrients. It has been recently reported that artificial sweeteners produce confusing effect on the energy regulation in laboratory animals (please read A Role for Sweet Taste: Calorie Predictive Relations in Energy Regulation).
Accordingly, sugar free Rockstar version will bring you low calorie intake, higher health risk of DDFI = 34/21 ~ 1.6 and even lower nutritional value of DDNF = 21/64 ~ 0.3.
There have been conflicting results concerning the effect of energy drinks on physiological and cognitive performance. Also an association between consumption of energy drinks and occurrence of cardiovascular events has recently been questioned, although the supporting data are limited. Regardless of the evidence, this association has brought about concerns that have impacted consumer perception and have resulted in bans on the sale of energy drinks in several European countries including Denmark and Norway. A common practice, especially among college students, is to mix alcohol with energy drinks (see the report for references). It was found that almost 25% of all drinker college students mix alcohol with energy drinks. There have been several studies that have shown that the consumption of energy drinks in combination with alcohol have resulted in a decreased level of perceived intoxication, which could result in an increased number of driving accidents or other alcohol related incidents. On November 17, 2010 press release, the FDA states “there is evidence that the combinations of caffeine and alcohol in these products pose a public health concern” and call seven caffeine-alcohol drinks unsafe.
Bottom line. This may sound boring to you, but the DyeDiet Recommendation would be to avoid any energy drinks and make right food choices instead. If we do our best trying to “Eat Food, Not Food Additives” then, I believe, we will get enough energy for everything we need to do in our lives. For instance, in my 55 I routinely do 315 lbs squat 6 sets by 10 reps, 60 times overall in a matter of 20-25 min. Watch a video documenting one easy set: Grandpa does 315 lbs squat easily
So far, I do not feel that I need an extra energy stimulant. Let us start making careful food choices and make a good example for our children to follow! Have a happy Holiday Season!