Energy drinks pack a powerful punch

August 22, 2007


With names like Rockstar, Full Throttle and No Fear, caffeinated energy drinks are hot right now, accounting for about $744 million in annual sales. While they may especially appeal to young adults, the beverages often contain multiple stimulants, making them a poor choice for young children and pregnant women. They also can be risky if mixed with alcohol.

Consumer Reports recently tested a dozen carbonated energy drinks and found that some can provide a per-container caffeine jolt that's the equivalent of two cups of coffee. Others can pile on the calories - up to 260 per can or bottle.

CR thinks the government should require companies to label caffeine content, but it doesn't, so you often have no idea how much you're getting. Caffeine levels in an 8-ounce serving ranged from 50 mg to 145 mg. By comparison, a cup of coffee has roughly 100 mg; a 12-ounce Coke about 35 mg. Caffeine intake up to about 300 mg a day is considered OK for most adults; children should be limited to well under 100 mg.

But most tested energy drinks have more than 8 ounces in a can or bottle. Anyone who guzzles the whole container consumes up to 200 mg of caffeine and up to 260 calories.

Celsius Energy Supplement, lemon lime, contained the most caffeine of the tested drinks at 145 mg per 8-ounce serving; and Archer Farms Energy Drink, fruit punch, (Target) contained the lowest at 50 mg per 8-ounce serving.

According to CR's trained testers, all of the drinks tested sweet, and many were a bit bitter.

Two of the tested products - Celsius Energy Supplement and Enviga Sparkling Green - claim to burn calories, and in a few manufacturer-funded studies, healthy adults worked off about 100 calories more on average after drinking them than after drinking a placebo. Other claims can be nonsensical. Red Bull, for example, says it "improves performance, especially during times of increased stress or strain," but high caffeine levels actually can cause anxiety.

CR's take: The label "energy drink" makes these products sound healthful, and an occasional indulgence is fine for most people. But just don't overdo it.

- Visit the Consumer Reports Web site at <a href=""></a>.


Cait McKnelly 10 years, 9 months ago

My son is 14 years old and in the past year became semi-addicted to these drinks. Recently he went to the doctor with blood pressures reading in the 170s-180s over 90s. Why? Because of these drinks. They have been abruptly cut out from his diet and he's now drinking sweet tea and lemonade. His blood pressure has come down dramatically. Fair warning they are NOT health drinks.

roadrunner 10 years, 9 months ago

They can also cause dysrhythmia's which can be serious if they don't correct themselves and you have to be defibrillated to return your heart to normal! Scary stuff! I won't let my kids drink them, but I know parents who hand them out before baseball games at tournaments!

monkeyspunk 10 years, 9 months ago

Cait48: How about water? Or milk? Or 100% juice? Wouldn't those be better than SWEET tea and SWEET lemonade? Those two aren't "healthy" either.

Look at what you drink on a regular basis, and you will see why your children crave high fructose corn syrup. I used to drink soda very often, but now i have cut back drastically and very rarely drink soda when my children are around. Its a tough lifestyle change, one that I am still working on, but if it keeps my children from being fat and in the hospital with elevated blood pressure, it is worth it.

Parents who hand out any type of high-caffeine drink before their children participate in sports activities in the heat should be shot. Because that is basically what they are doing to their kids.

monkeyspunk 10 years, 9 months ago

Oh, my favorite thing to do is when I see people guzzle these, is to make fun of them when they act like they just got some magical jolt from the caffeine, when in reality, it takes 1 hour to take effect. Morons and sheep.

Oh and doesn't caffeine contribute to ED?

craigers 10 years, 9 months ago

I was just glad to see that a can of pop has about 35mg and an adult can consume 350mg of caffiene each day. CR just told me that it's okay to have my 10 cans of soda a day!!! ;) jk, I only drink 9!!!

craigers 10 years, 9 months ago

Not all of the energy drinks taste like crap. I will say Full Throttle is horrible. I have found Monster Lo-Carb to be pretty decent and not too heavy on the calories.

BrianR 10 years, 9 months ago

I usually drink water but when I want caffeine, a good latte is always my drug of choice.

Fatty_McButterpants 10 years, 9 months ago

Yes, it's true that the average energy drink at a store like Kwik Shop tastes like crap and contains a very high amount of calories (save the "lo-carb" versions such as the blue-colored 'Monster') and unusual amounts of caffeine. I have been told by people with a higher level of health & fitness knowledge than myself that drinks that have high levels of B-vitamins will provide a healthier, better energy boost than the crappy ones. Unfortunately, those cost about $4 per bottle and you can only get them at places like GNC...

Confrontation 10 years, 9 months ago

monkeyspunk: If caffeine does contribute to ED, then shouldn't we be pushing caffeine injections in high school males?

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