Friday, February 17, 2012

Energy Drinks Give You Health Problems, Not Wings

Check out my musings on being a clean eco yogini and my favourite eco laundry detergent brands over at the Phone Booth today!

Unless you've been hiding under a rock, these commercials should be familiar. Energy drinks are everywhere now, but I was surprised that anyone beyond adolescents and extremely uninformed adults drank them. Wouldn't you know, several of my friends have been known to drink energy drinks... and I've even found a few cans in my very own recycling (Andrew being the culprit).

As a yogini, I've often heard that you shouldn't drink coffee after yoga as it negates the benefits of the practice, but I've also known yogis to drink coffee for that extra boost BEFORE yoga (also not the best idea). However, I still drink coffee (gasp! In fact I LOVE coffee- fair trade organic of course).

I've also experienced the health effects of drinking too much caffeine, as I'm sure has happened to many of you too. A free Venti, four shot starbucks mocha (before Starbucks and I broke up for environmental reasons) resulted in a shaking, sobbing and hysterical me at work (it was not a pretty sight).

Don't make the mistake of equalling an energy drink with a cup of coffee. There are some nasty differences between downing a cup of jo or sucking back a red bull.

Energy drinks caffeine content can range anywhere from 50mg to 200mg per serving (with the CMAJ stating some have up to 500mg) and the sizes of the cans can be huge, effectively doubling the caffeine you get from one can. Currently, energy drinks containing 'natural caffeine' such as guarana are not required to state the amount of caffeine added by the supplement- as a result these drinks most likely have even more caffeine than stated on the can. (As of this summer, Health Canada is requiring that all energy drinks be considered a food item and as such will be required to list all ingredients including natural ingredients- yay!).

A regular cup of coffee has between 40-80mg of caffeine, quite a bit less than 200mg+.

On top of all that caffeine, energy drinks also have ridiculous amounts of refined sugar and other ingredients that may interact negatively with the caffeine.

Weirdly, many teenagers and university students combine energy drinks with alcohol which has been shown to have  potentially very serious health effects as it masks the sensation (but not the physiological) effects of inebriation (CMAJ 2010).

Social implications energy drinks:
Children and adolescents do not have adult-type brain functioning or biological functioning. We know that- hormonal changes, brain continuing to develop. They're more vulnerable to adverse health affects of caffeine and refined sugar with health effects ranging from muscle tremors, increased heart rate, higher blood pressure and anxiety.

Health Canada recommends that children do not exceed 2.5mg/kg of their body weight. This works out to max:
- 4 to 6yrs: 45 mg (about 355ml can of cola) (ugh, children drinking pop is sad)
- 7 to 9yrs: 62.5mg (1.5 cans of 355ml cola)
- 10-12yrs: 85mg (almost 2 cans of 355ml cola)
- adolescents continue the 2.5mg/kg
- adults: 400mg limit.

The fact that these companies are specifically and obviously targeting young children with a product that has some serious health effects and exceeds the limit of their daily intake.

Using energy drinks to artificially give yourself a boost means that you're most likely overtired and overextended. Our society has become sleep deprived and undervalues rest as a health solution. Instead we keep trying to push through hoping rest will come later. Instead, planning and getting enough rest before hand is the best answer, changing habits instead of forcing your way through life jacked up on energy drinks.

Environmental Concerns of energy drinks:
Beyond the waste created by aluminum cans and energy (carbon) emissions from the fabrication and shipping, all aluminum cans are lined with BPA. You know, those nasty cancer-linked plastics that they've banned from other products. You're drink is lined with the stuff.

Each year 3 billion cans of Red Bull are sold- I highly doubt they all get recycled.

The next time you wish you had an extra boost for that yoga class or sports game, how about making a mental note to create an action plan surrounding enough rest, realize that your yoga class will just as effectively energize your system and sports peeps: practice 30min of active yoga pre-game. Trust me, it works!

article copyright of EcoYogini at


  1. GREAT article Lisa! I have been working on a post about foods linked to depression, energy drinks are a big culprit, especially when mixed with simple carbs and processed foods. I'd love to link your article, it's much more informative than the blurb about energy drinks I was working on!

  2. Agreed! Kids equate energy drinks with pop, and many parents have no idea what their child is actually ingesting.

    Makes me wonder why when our CHILDREN are drinking this dreck, we don't understand why we have a childhood obesity problem/ADHD diagnoses galore?! The math seems pretty simple to me.

  3. The part you mentioned about the cans not getting recycled is quite true, even more so than what we would think. I was snowboarding at Wentworth mountain (hill) the other day and in the line up for ordering food I listened intently to 3 boys talking about energy drinks like it was cocaine. They were stating how they were not allowed to drink it because of their moms, and were daring each other to buy one and the other would get one as well (they were on a school trip with no parents). The guy they saw who did get one was "so cool". Anyhow, what i'm getting at is that most kids probably are not allowed to drink them from their parents, so the moment they are finished one they throw the can away, just like they would with a beer can to save from getting caught. I noticed a lot of cans that day all over the hill.

  4. I can't do energy drinks. They are way too sugary for me. I like mate. If anyone is looking for a good, healthy way to get energy mate is the way to go.


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