Is An Energy Drink Really Can-etic Energy?

Even Slowpoke Rodriguez is on the red bull bandwagon

“He’s got no energy. He’s just flat. There’s no passion there.” — Roger Stone, former Trump adviser commenting on Jeb Bush. (Should have had an energy drink, I suspect).

Energy. It’s everywhere. Yet, whole industries exist selling that very thing to massive markets of folks looking for an additional supply to help them with BASE jumping, spelunking, skateboarding or simply walking Fido around the block or enduring another Monday at some sub-rate office supply job.

In this particular case, I am talking about the energy drink sector—which grew over 60% between 2008-2012, and generates nearly 12.5 billion in sales annually.1 (Incidentally, according to statistics from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, energy drink-related visits to the emergency room were also up around 50%).2

Often marketed as a product that gives users “sustained,” “clean,” non-jittery power for a few hours, energy drinks have become a daily staple among thrill seeking millennials and vigorless housewives alike. Seemingly everyone is quaffing these neon super-formulas in search of enough oomph to pass the LSAT, grow wings or even run a country some day.

  They Are What We Thought They Were


A quick glance at the label of any energy drink having one (since energy drinks may be sold as supplements, not all manufacturers include ingredients) will quickly show that most have a few features in common: some form of vitamin B, Taurine, Guarana, sugar and caffeine.

Vitamin B: Existing in many forms, such as riboflavin, thiamine, niacin, or b12, these vitamins help the body make energy from the foods we eat. They also have a tendency to turn your pee yellow…like the color of a particular energy drink named after a certain crimson ungulate.

Tuarine: An organic compound found in the lower intestine and constituting up to 0.1% of our total body weight, taurine is generally used in energy drinks for its digestive health properties, as well as to lower blood pressure—in case the next three ingredients set your blood a boilin’.

Sugar: Sweet, delicious CHO. Unless you’re sipping “sugar-free” varieties, most name brand energy drinks contain between 30-60 grams of sugar per can. (Over 70g for Monster XXL)!! Now, if this is your only source of sweetness, then those numbers are not so bad. But, the reality is that energy drinks are normally followed closely by pizza or gas station subs. Maybe this is why taurine is added (since another property of that wonder compound is to help fight diabetes).

Guarana: A member of the maple family native to the Amazon Basin, Guarana plants are mostly sought after for their seeds—which contain about twice the concentration of caffeine as do their coffee counterparts.

Caffeine: The world’s most consumed psychoactive drug features prominently in the formulations of most energy drinks, and sometimes in amounts nearly the daily limit for most folks. Just about every go-juice on the market has between 100-240 mg of caffeine per can, or about as much as a cup of coffee.

Moderation is Key


I think this might be an effect of too many energy drinks.


This old adage seems to hold true concerning energy drinks as well. While one is not generally harmful (unless you have conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure or are pregnant), people get into trouble when slamming 5 or 6 over the course of a day. There are countless stories of amateur and pro athletes who have suffered seizures, blackouts and even death from a combination of too many energy drinks and not enough water.

When mixing energy drinks with alcohol, moderation really is an important factor, as both caffeine and alcohol are dehydrating, and can be deadly when combined with the heat of dance clubs and raves.

Decision ‘18


What if one chooses to eschew energy in a can, are they forever relegated to suffer shun and shame as a “low energy person?”

Before abandoning any lofty aspirations of finishing your thesis on time or achieving the highest office in the land for lack of spark, try these natural alternatives to energy drinks:

  • Sleep: If you’re tired and lack energy…sleep. I can’t make it much clearer than that. Sleep is our natural restorative method and a great way to add that “oh-so-refreshed” feeling.
  • Hydrate: Often, people are tired because they lack the proper hydration. Not having enough fluids, especially water, slows the body’s metabolism.
  • Coffee/Tea: If you just gotta’ have that boost of caffeine, coffee and tea are two of the most natural ways to go about that. Try the original variety–no whipped cream, sugar, or chocolate swirls.
  • High Protein/Complex Carb Snacks: Since most of us aren’t on kidney dialysis, we CAN get energy from solid food, and should do so when feeling a little sluggish, as opposed to the “pop-fizz-whizz” process of energy drinks. Try whole wheat crackers w/a bit of almond butter for a nice mid-day lift.


Use Your Own Potential…Energy


Remember that humans built the pyramids and forged great societies long before the introduction of beverages designed to help us “conquer the day” hit Superstore USA’s shelves. Like most supplements—they are just a tool, frequently misused or abused—and not really needed for adequate biological function.

Meditation, exercise, rest and proper nutrition are stronger factors than any substance that can be canned. They are not a quick fix, but nothing concerning good health ever is.



1.) US News & World Report,

2.)  National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.