What You Need to Know about Excessive Energy Drink Consumption

November 18, 2022

The consumption of energy drinks has experienced an exponential increase over the last few decades, especially among young people, with a current worldwide market value of $27.5 billion.

While the popularity of these drinks as anti-fatigue products is growing, there is increasing concern about the evidence of their negative effects on health and their consumption in undesirable circumstances. And no wonder. According to the figures provided, 31% of adults consume this type of beverage regularly compared to 62% in the 10-18 age group.

What are energy drinks?

These drinks are often marketed as a way to improve physical performance and get an extra boost of energy or mental acuity. 

Although there are many different brands and formulas on the market, they all tend to contain similar ingredients. In addition to caffeine, energy drinks often contain other ingredients, such as taurine, L-carnitine, glucuronolactone, ginkgo, guarana, ginseng, and B vitamins, among others. 

Energy drinks are well accepted among young people thanks, in part, to their advertising strategy, which leads to a rather low perception of the risk associated with their consumption. Energy drink companies target their campaigns at young people and thrill-seekers. 

They use images and language that appeal to adventure seekers. By aligning their products with these values, they can create a strong connection in the minds of their consumers.

As a result, energy drinks have become synonymous with an active lifestyle, ideal for those seeking a competitive edge, and a seemingly valuable addition to their toolbox.

However, it is crucial to consume them in moderation and be aware of the potential risks, especially at high intakes:

  • In addition to stimulation of the Central Nervous (CNS) and cardiovascular systems, chronic consumption of energy drinks has been associated with a caffeine overdose, hypertension, bone loss and osteoporosis, phobias, headache, depressive syndrome, anxiety or changes in heart rate that may lead to other cardiovascular diseases.

  • Among the resulting side effects are palpitations, insomnia, nausea, vomiting, and frequent urination. It has also been argued that excessive consumption of energy drinks may serve as an indicator of other substance use and other risky behaviors.

  • Consumption of alcohol mixed with energy drinks leads to a state that includes a decreased perception of the degree of alcohol intoxication, increased stimulation, and increased desire to drink.

  • It has also been independently associated with physical inactivity, more leisure time in front of the screen, low socioeconomic status, poor eating habits, higher body mass index, and poorer school/work performance.

  • Excessive sugar consumption causes obesity and insulin resistance, which in turn has a negative influence on the cardiac alterations that can be caused by the abuse of this type of beverage.

The consumption of energy drinks is not recommended for children or pregnant or breastfeeding women.

What is considered a high consumption of energy drinks?

Energy drink companies commercialized up to four different modalities of energetic drinks depending on the quantity of caffeine that they contain: 15, 32, 40, and 55 mg for every 100ml, in packages that usually go from 250ml to 500ml.

Thus, a bottle of energy drink boasts around 80 and 300 mg of caffeine, equivalent to four espresso coffees (75mg).

A person consuming more than 1.4 milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of body weight per day may suffer from insomnia and reduced sleep duration.

If this intake exceeds 3 milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of weight, it may also involve cardiovascular and hematological, neurological, and psycho-behavioral risks. This amount, considered harmful, is easily reached or exceeded by consuming half a liter per day of most energy drinks.

Let us now look at what is meant by moderate consumption. Experts establish a series of guidelines depending on the weight of the consumer and the composition of the drink:

  • Consumers weighing 100 lb should avoid consuming energy drinks with more than 32 mg/100ml to avoid sleep disturbances.

  • Consumers weighing 120 lb should not consume 1000 ml of any energy drink or exceed 500 ml of these drinks with concentrations of 40-55 mg caffeine/100 ml, due to sleep disturbances and general adverse health effects.

  • Consumers weighing 140 lb should not consume more than 500 ml of drinks with 32 mg caffeine/100 ml (or 250 ml/day of drinks with 40-55 mg caffeine/100 ml) to avoid sleep disturbances. 

In addition, no more than 1000 ml of 32-40 mg caffeine/100 ml beverages or more than 500 ml of 55 mg caffeine/100 ml energy drinks should be consumed to avoid adverse health effects.

Finally, we must mention the consumption of the well-known "shots" or "caffeine/energy shots", widespread as sports supplementation during competition, marketed in a small format that concentrates, in less than 100 ml, high concentrations of caffeine much higher than those of energy drinks.

Final Word

Energy drinks are an excellent addition to extensive working out regimes, however, their excessive use can be quite harmful to human health and cause insomnia, increased blood sugar, and deterioration of bone due to overwhelmingly high caffeine doses. 

As long as you keep your energy drink intake under control, and try natural energy-boosting alternatives such as changes in your diet, CBD for athletes, and other certified workout supplementation, you shouldn't be worried.