Are energy drinks a good source of energy?

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In light of recent research findings, the marketing catch phrase “Redbull gives you wings” should be changed to “Redbull can cause you to have a serious heart condition”.

The University of Adelaide, Royal Adelaide Hospital and Cardiovascular Research Centre recently published research findings that showed “common energy drinks do trigger significant changes, including a rise in blood pressure, increased stickiness of blood and decreased blood vessel function”.

So what does this mean for the average person? Well, according to Senior Research Officer Dr Scott Willoughby if you’re a fit and healthy person and you consume energy drinks, you could be putting yourself at risk of developing a serious heart condition.

It now makes perfect sense why the manufacturers of these products print on the cans “Maximum daily usage: 1 can” and advise pregnant women to steer clear of these heavily caffeinated, sugar intense products.

There have been a number of reports of healthy young individuals having heart attacks and even dying well before their time after consuming above the daily dose of these products. 28 year old Matthew Penboss from NSW is one example. After consuming 5 redbulls (4 more than the recommended daily dose) he suffered a cardiac arrest and had to take 6 weeks off work to recuperate.

The biggest problem with redbull (or any energy drink for that matter) is the amount of caffeine it contains. Imagine this – you walk into a cafe, order a large strong coffee (alternatively you buy 2 – 3 cokes) and then you consume this all at once. That’s how much caffeine you consume when you have a typical energy drink.

On top of that, you’re also consuming a ridiculous amount of sugar. For example, in a 480ml can of the popular energy drink Rock star you will find 14 teaspoons of sugar. For a visual representation of what that looks like (as well as how much sugar is in other common beverages) click here.

The combination of caffeine and sugar commonly results in nervousness, irritability, sleeplessness, etc. Sure, you’ll feel great for a time but shortly after, you will crash and burn. You’ll feel flat, grumpy and worse than you did before and you’ll feel the need to crack open another one just to get you going again.

It’s a vicious cycle and a recipe for disaster and serious heart/health problems.

So next time you’re feeling a little ‘meh’ and flat, consider ditching the energy drinks and try taking a healthier approach to boosting your energy. Often when students feel flat and tired, it’s because they have been working hard and/or haven’t had enough sleep. Your body needs rest. If you’re tired, give your body what it needs: Rest! I recommend taking a 20 minute power nap.

Perhaps sleep isn’t a problem for you and you just find yourself in a bad, unmotivated mood when it comes time to start that assignment you can’t quite get your head around. If you find yourself in this situation, then go exercise. For those of you who suffer from “lycraphobia” and don’t like going to the gym, try a 30-minute walk in nature. Research tells us that this is an excellent way to re-energise yourself, build self-esteem and clear your mind.

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