Sunday, March 27, 2011

Are Energy Drinks Dangerous to Your Health?

Are Energy Drinks Dangerous to Your Health? Article from Men's Health by David Zinczenko with Matt Goulding

It’s one of the greatest marketing tricks in the history of beverages: Turning a can of obesity-inducing sugar water into the coolest product in the supermarket. Here’s how it’s done.

1. Give your can of sugar water a hip-sounding name, like Monster, Rockstar, or Amp.

2. Promise that the product will do something exciting to your body, like boosting your energy and alertness, so you, too, can be a rock star — or at least stay up as late as one.

3. Make your product sound slightly dangerous. Anything will sound cooler when grown-ups hate it: Dr. Oz calls energy drinks “addictive” and “unhealthy.” Other experts point to thousands of caffeine overdoses among young people 19 and under.

But all the hoopla surrounding energy drinks is just hysteria, right? Sure, drinking them by the six-pack isn’t a good idea, but in moderation, a single can of cold, tangy, eyeball-popping energy fuel can’t be bad for you . . .

Or can it?

Well, the truth is that while you can call a product RockStar, a more accurate name for some of their drinks might be Fat Roadie. Because while massive doses of energy drinks are obviously dangerous, adding even a single can a day of some of them to your liquid intake could cause more than 29 pounds of weight gain in a year! Below, I’ve outlined some of the worst energy drinks, and some much saner alternatives. Making these simple swaps could be the difference between Lady Gaga, and Lady Gargantua. comment:  Men's Health is missing the point here.  It's not the weight gain that makes them dangerous.  It what is does to your health in the form of spiking your blood sugar, causing your pancreas to produce insulin to remove the blood sugar, and leading you down the road to adult onset diabetes.  Check out this great website on diabetes:

5-Hour Energy (1.93-oz bottle)
4 calories
0 g sugars
Caffeine: 135 mg

What’s really in 5-Hour Energy? Wouldn’t you like to know! The company claims the product is packed with a variety of vitamins and other compounds that promote energy, but when Consumer Reports recently requested a copy of the supporting research, the company balked. Here’s a golden rule of food and drink: If the company selling the product won’t put its money where its mouth is, don’t put their product where your mouth is. Bottom line: The only proven ingredient in this bottle is caffeine, and one bottle contains about as much as a cup of coffee. You know what costs much less, contains loads of natural antioxidants, and also has as much caffeine as a cup of coffee? You guessed it, a cup of coffee. No energy drink on the planet is more reliable.

Redline Power Rush (2.5-oz bottle)
0 calories
0 g sugars
Caffeine: 326 mg

This is what happens when the companies that produce energy shots go to war with one another (7 hours of energy? Really?). Sipping this tiny bottle is the caffeine equivalent of gulping down about three cups of coffee, which is probably why the company's website warns minors not to drink it. Oh, and for those of us with family histories of high blood pressure, enlarged prostates, glaucoma, or any one of six other ailments, we need to consult a physician before use. The company also recommends you drink only half a bottle, but who's going to drink one-half of 2.5 ounces? That's like packing an Oreo in your kid's lunch and telling her to eat only one bite.

Amp Energy (16-oz can)
220 calories
58 g sugars
Caffeine: 142 mg

No energy drink exposes the blurred line between energy and soda better than Amp. It is, after all, an offshoot of Mountain Dew. The difference is it’s shot through with more caffeine and all the dubious additives that give energy drinks their questionable energy appeal. But the problem with this can is the same problem that afflicts every other soda on the market—sugar. Guzzling this thing fills your stomach with 14 spoonfuls of sugar.

Clif Razz Energy Gel Shot (32 g package)
100 calories
12 g sugars
Caffeine: 0 mg

Be wary of any “energy” shot that comes in gel form. These packages are specifically formulated to replenish sugar stores to overworked muscles during bouts of high-intensity training. That’s great if you’re running a 10K, but it you’re not doing some serious athletics, expect it to go straight to your thighs, butt, and belly. For a more sustainable—and less fattening—form of energy, opt for green tea.

Starbucks Coffee Frappuccino (13.7-oz bottle)
290 calories
4.5 g fat (3 g saturated)
46 g sugars
Caffeine: 108 mg

I’m not Rockstar's biggest fan, but they do a lot of things right, like this healthier alternative to Starbucks. Do you know how much whole milk you’d have to pour into your coffee to reach the 290 calories in this Starbucks bottle? Nearly two cups. Or how about this for comparison: This Vanilla Frappuccino has more calories than either a Snickers bar or a Wendy’s Jr. Cheeseburger, plus it has more sugar than two scoops of Haagen-Dazs Crème Brulèe ice cream.

Vault Red Blitz (20-oz bottle)
290 calories
78 g sugars
Caffeine: 115 mg

And here it is, the biggest loser in the battle of the energy drinks. Vault packs in more sugar than any other energy drink on the market. In terms of sheer calories, Starbucks Coffee Frappuccino fares just as bad, but even it can’t claim to have more sugar than 3½ Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bars. If you’re looking for the daily energy beverage most likely to give you diabetes, this might be it.

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