More Gym Goers Are Turning to Energy Drinks But At What Cost?

If you’re a bodybuilder, or even just someone who works out regularly, you know how important it is to stay hydrated. Energy drinks are one such option for hydration that’s becoming increasingly popular among bodybuilders and other athletes.

While they may provide a short-term energy boost, energy drinks are also linked to a wide range of side effects. Some people use them to heighten their energy for strenuous activities, while others consume them for their nutritional value.

Others will avoid using energy drinks, mostly due to the potential impact on their bodies. Research has found that energy drinks can damage blood vessels and cause anxiety and heart palpitations, which may throw some people off.

As such, one would have to ask the question: are energy drinks good for bodybuilders? If energy drinks add stress to the cardiovascular system is their a trad-off for the easy quick energy they provide? This article will flesh out all the pros and cons, as well as the common types of energy drinks to help you decide for yourself.

are energy drinks good for working out
Energy drinks are beneficial for workouts, but they have negative side effects, too. Image source: Pexels

Primary Advantages of Energy Drinks

Besides simply tasting good, having energy drinks before or during your workout has its own perks. These include but are not limited to:

Rapid Energy Boost

Of course, the most obvious benefit of having energy drinks is the bolt of energy you acquire after drinking them. Most energy drinks contain caffeine, which is a stimulant that improves your reaction time and alertness. 

Improved Physical Performance

Most energy drinks are marketed to boost your physical performance, and there is truth to that. Caffeine’s stimulating effect gives you an energy rush, which may drive your body to perform routines efficiently and at a higher level of intensity. One study by Camilo José Cela University researchers found that athletes with energy drinks in their system during training felt less fatigue and had better muscle power and endurance.

Additionally, new drinks like Bang Energy for example are now adding supplements once exclusively associated with hardcore gym rats such as creatine and EAAs such as L-Isoleucine and L-Valine for anabolic support.

Better Mental Alertness

As mentioned earlier, energy drinks with a caffeine element can boost your mental alertness. A can of energy drink that contains around 80 milligrams of caffeine is enough to potentially improve your brain function and concentration. Having a heightened mental presence can benefit you when performing complex routines or handling heavy weights.

Primary Disadvantages of Energy Drinks

Taking all these benefits aside, it’s also important to note a few drawbacks that come with consuming energy drinks. Some people have even filed lawsuits against energy drink companies because of these effects, which you can see more about by clicking this link. If you consume energy drinks, you might experience the following:

Anxiety and Sleeplessness

Too much sugar and caffeine in your system may cause heightened levels of anxiety, which is why you may feel jittery after consuming energy drinks. Caffeine may also cause sleeplessness or insomnia due to the excess energy in your body that keeps you up at night.

Increased Heart Rate and Blood Pressure

Energy drinks often contain lots of sugar as well as other elements like taurine and ginseng. Together with caffeine, this combination of compounds may increase your heart rate and blood pressure. This could heighten your risk of experiencing cardiovascular problems, including heart arrhythmia, heart attacks, and strokes.

Tooth Decay

The high level of sugar in energy drinks is associated with various dental issues such as plaque buildup, cavities, and tooth decay. One study by Swedish scientists even found that consuming energy drinks may double the risk of dental erosion. This is because sugar, when converted to acid in your mouth, destroys the protective enamel layer in your teeth. 

Other Health Problems

Various studies have shown that energy drinks may lead to chronic health problems, some of which include obesity and type 2 diabetes. One study in the Journal of Addiction Medicine also linked energy drinks to kidney failure. This is because aside from dehydration, caffeine may cause diuresis or excessive urine production in your body.

Also worth mentioning perhaps the most famous case of a mass-marketed, widely consumed energy supplement that turned out to be dangerous and was thus discontinued would be Jack3d preworkouts.

Addictive Behavior

Energy drink enthusiasts may get addicted to the beverage, especially when they rely on it to get through workouts and all-nighters. Getting them to kick the habit may cause withdrawal symptoms such as mood decline, fatigue, and severe headaches.

Because caffeine is usually a major element in energy drinks, it’s best to follow the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) caffeine intake recommendation of fewer than 400 milligrams per day.

potential risks of too much energy drink consumption
Energy drinks are linked to boosted performance as well as medical issues. Image source: Unsplash

Main Types of Common Energy Drinks

Before choosing to consume or avoid energy drinks, you should know about the different types that are on the market. These include:

Mainstream Caffeinated Drinks

The most common type of energy drink is the one you see in most convenience stores and supermarkets. These drinks come in different flavors and sizes, but their main focus is to give you that buzz. Apart from caffeine and sugar, the elements of a typical energy drink include guarana and vitamin B-complex. Some brands also sell energy shots, which come in 50ml bottles and are often more efficient with their lower calorie and sugar content.

Vitamin-Rich Nutritional Beverages

Because they contain plenty of micronutrients, these energy drinks are often considered supplements rather than energy boosters. Aside from vitamins, these drinks are rich in magnesium, folate, zinc, and iron which aid in converting calories into energy. They may not give you the desired results in terms of physical performance, but they are helpful for people with vitamin or caloric deficiencies such as those afflicted with malnourishment and loss of appetite.

Natural & Organic Drinks

Natural drinks are touted as healthier alternatives to the common energy drink. They contain less than 200 mg of caffeine, and the caffeine that they do have originates from plant-based extracts.

Essentially, these organic energy drinks and preworkouts aim to give you that energy boost without the adverse effects. They also contain fewer calories and added sugars on top of plant extracts known for boosting brain activity, reducing stress, and improving energy absorption. Typically, natural drinks are infused with elements of guayusa tea, black and green tea, matcha, and coffee fruit.

Decaf Energy Drinks

Since energy drinks are not regulated by the FDA, companies would need to launch healthy alternatives to manage the bad publicity that comes with negative side effects.

Some energy drink manufacturers have produced low-caffeine or completely decaffeinated versions of their products to address the impacts of over-consuming caffeine. The caffeine levels in these drinks are usually very low at around 6 mg per serving. So even though they are meant to be safer to consume, they may not be as effective as the original versions.

The Bottom Line: Consume with Caution

While energy drinks are not entirely bad, it’s still best to stay mindful of how you consume them. It’s okay to savor the benefits of boosted energy and performance, but you need to do so in moderation to avoid risks to your health. And if you have pre-existing chronic medical conditions involving your vital organs, it’s best to veer away from the beverage and opt for healthy, natural alternatives. All in all, it’s important to pay attention to your body first before consuming anything that has the potential to alter its functions.

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