How Many Calories Should A Teenager Eat To Lose Weight Energy Drinks – Are They Safe?

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Energy Drinks – Are They Safe?

Energy drinks have become all the rage in recent years. More than 500 brands are now on the market and it is now estimated to be a five billion dollar a year industry in the United States. Additionally, many of the drink’s most ardent fans are teenagers, and much of the publicity is directed at them. According to a recent survey, nearly half (43%) of teens have tried drinks, and many of them consume them on a regular basis.

There’s no doubt about it: everyone needs a lift once in a while, and most people turn to coffee. In increasing numbers, however, people are turning to energy drinks, especially young people. Students use them to stay awake while preparing for exams, and young athletes use them in hopes of improving their athletic performance. And they’re often paired with energy bars (food), to get even more energy.

They work? There is no doubt that they do, sometimes too well. As many people have discovered after using them late at night, it is very difficult to fall asleep after going to bed. And if they’re used to cramming for an exam, the sleep you’ve been missing may be just as critical as the cramming. Numerous studies have shown that a significant amount of cognitive power is lost when sleep is lost.

So what are they? To give you a boost, they have to do two things: make more glucose and get it to your cells as fast as possible, and stimulate your nervous system. And energy drinks are good for both. They consist mainly of sugar and caffeine; the sugar supplies the glucose and the caffeine stimulates the nerves. But they contain many other things along with sugar and caffeine, and some of them are of concern to health experts.

While energy drinks work well, they do come with a certain cost. They quickly boost your energy (sugar is turned into glucose almost immediately) and make you feel great, but this high is relatively short-lived. When sugar enters your bloodstream, you get a “burst” of energy, but about half an hour later you experience a “shutdown” (when all the glucose is used up). You start to feel weak and lightheaded, and as a result, many of you reach for another drink. This brings us to the question: are they safe? Most health experts agree they are relatively safe when used in moderation. After all, you get the same stimulation from coffee, and there’s no evidence that coffee, when used in moderation, isn’t safe.

As with coffee, the main problem for energy drinks is caffeine. Several studies have shown that for most healthy adults, up to about 400 milligrams (mg) per day is safe. Beyond that, however, it can have a number of side effects: it’s a diuretic and can cause fluid loss, and in excess it can cause jitters, stomach pain, headaches, and sleep problems. So how much caffeine is in these drinks? Let’s start by looking at a regular cup of coffee; it averages about 100 mg (but can range from about 72 to 175). And it’s common knowledge that for most people, more than 5 or 6 cups of coffee a day can cause problems. Let’s assume the same thing applies to energy drinks. So how much caffeine is in energy drinks? In a single serving it ranges from around 72 to 150 mg, which doesn’t sound too much. One problem, however, is that many energy drink containers contain two or three servings. Some of these “supersize” drinks therefore contain up to 294 mg, which is a lot.

Another issue is that although 400mg per day is safe for adults, it’s not necessarily safe for children and adolescents. Also, the coffee is hot and most people sip it slowly; energy drinks are cold and are usually drunk fairly quickly. The main problem with caffeine, however, is that it dehydrates your body, and this dehydration can be serious – it can even kill you. After drinking several energy drinks, people start feeling thirsty (the first sign of dehydration) and so they drink more to relieve thirst, which only makes them more dehydrated. Also, caffeine is addictive and as you drink more and more, you need more and more to give yourself a high.

Then we have the sugar problem. While there are a few sugar-free energy drinks on the market, most are packed with sugar, some containing as much as 30 grams per serving. To give you a better feel for 30 grams, that’s about 4 full teaspoons, with each teaspoon containing about 15 calories. The total calories per serving is then about 120, which isn’t too bad, but as I mentioned earlier, many energy drink containers now come in 2 and 3 servings, so you could be getting 700 calories in one container. With the obesity problem, particularly among children, an extra 700 calories is something they could do without. If it is added to their regular (balanced) diet, it could add a pound of weight in a week.

Let’s look at the other stuff in energy drinks now. They vary from drink to drink, but some of the more common ones are listed below:

Guarana: is a source of caffeine

Taurine (an amino acid): is added to enhance the effect of caffeine.

Glucuronlactone: Effects are generally unknown, but may help flush out toxins.

Inositol: Effects are generally unknown, but some may be positive.

Vitamin B: No problem.

Carnitine and ginseng: Generally considered safe.

Ephedrine: When mixed with alcohol it is hard on the heart.

Pyruvate: Added as a “performance” booster, but in large quantities can make you sick.

Glutamine and arginine: Amino acids, no danger.

The biggest problem with these extra ingredients is that, in some cases, their long-term effect is unknown. Most are safe when used in moderation, but others are questionable.

This brings us to the question: who is most at risk? Because of the danger of dehydration, people with high blood pressure and heart problems are definitely at risk. Also, children and even teenagers should be careful and limit their use. Athletes also need to be careful; they should not use them while competing due to the danger of dehydration.

But many people will say, “I thought sports drinks were good for athletes.” And indeed they are, but it’s important to distinguish sports drinks like Gatorade from energy drinks. They are quite different. Sports drinks are designed to overcome dehydration; energy drinks cause dehydration. Specifically, sports drinks replace electrolytes that are lost during sweating, and these electrolytes, in turn, maintain salt and potassium balance in the body.

I have left the main problem for last. Many people mix energy drinks with alcohol, and it’s now common knowledge that this can spell disaster. Mixing energy drinks with alcohol gives a person the feeling that they are not intoxicated. But in reality it is; he cannot perform the usual test tasks for intoxication better than a person who drank only alcohol. Also, because he doesn’t feel intoxicated, he thinks he can drink more, and he usually does. And he could end up very drunk without realizing it.

So while energy drinks are generally considered safe when consumed in moderation, caution must be exercised.

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