If you’ve been to one of our Belly Bootcamp classes, trained with me or even followed any of my blogs over the years, it probably won’t come as a surprise that I don’t recommend the use of energy drinks. Well, save one energy drink in particular… I do, after all, recommend the use of coffee. Now a recent study published in the journal Nutrition Reviews has found no evidence that energy drinks do virtually any of the things their manufacturers claim.

I know what you’re thinking… “What?! Food manufacturers exaggerating benefits and misleading consumers to make profits? What is this world coming to?” OK, OK, I realize it’s not earth-shattering. Consider, though, that energy drink sales are approaching $10 billion, annually. So, while you may not be consuming much Red Bull, others are. In fact, 33% of adults 16-35 consume 1-2 energy drinks PER DAY. Yikes. How did so many people become convinced that sugary, caffeinated, chemically-laden “energy drinks” were an appropriate part of a regular, healthy diet?

Let’s check the ingredient list on a can of Monster, one of the dominant brands in the energy drink (ED) market.

Ingredients include carbonated water, sucrose, glucose, citric acid, natural flavors, taurine, sodium citrate, color added,panax ginseng root extract, l-carnitine, caffeine, sorbic acid, benzoic acid, niacinamide, sodium chloride, glucuronolactone,inositol, guarana seed extract, pyridoxine, hydrochloride, sucralose, riboflavin, maltodextrin, cyanocobalamin. Yummy.

So are all of those ingredients necessary? Or even safe? Never mind, effective?

The International Society of Sports Nutrition just published a position paper on energy drinks earlier this month after examining the evidence on energy drinks (ED) and energy shots (ES) and their purported benefits, concluding:

“Although ED and ES contain a number of nutrients that are purported to affect mental and/or physical performance, the primary ergogenic nutrients in most ED and ES appear to be carbohydrate and/or caffeine.” 

In other words, the only ingredients that have any effect on energy levels are sugar and caffeine. 

The ingredients in energy drinks are – by and large – ineffective. Not to mention there is even question about the fatality of consuming energy drinks like Monster, and the abuse 0f energy drinks may lead to illness and death. The ISSN concluded by recommending parental discretion in the use of ED by children and adolescents, abstinence from ED during pregnancy and caution for athletes considering their use. The ISSN recommends further study, stating:

“Indiscriminant use of [energy drinks] or [energy shots], especially if more than one serving per day is consumed, may lead to adverse events and harmful side effects.”

I don’t know, but if it’s not safe for children, teenagers, pregnant women or athletes, I don’t want it in my body.