Adrenaline in a Can? The Truth Behind Energy Drinks and Bars

If sweating off the pounds through countless hours of cardio seems too radical, teenagers may turn to quick-fix energy drinks like Red Bull and Amp to give them that extra boost during the rigors of a busy lifestyle. A highly active teen’s schedule may consist of school, participating in a school sport, attending several extra-cirriculars and clubs, and studying all in one tedious day. This routine can become overwhelming and exhausting, leaving an individual to resort to the age-old “all-nighter” in an attempt to write a last-minute AP paper. So he or she thinks, “Why not have a Sobe Energy Rush, take a caffeine pill or two, and finish this homework?” As brilliant as that sounds, the short-term and long-term effects of energy supplement abuse are surprisingly harmful.

The average energy drink contains approximately the same amount of caffeine as a medium-sized cup of coffee. And, although both beverages provide boosts of energy, the “high” is short-lived. Senior Megan Coss agreed and said, “Even though I drink two Red Bulls before cheerleading practice, I can feel them wear off within the first hour of exercise.”

Another unsatisfied student, sophomore Andy Thomas, said, “After school I am drained, but I still have to make it through the night and complete all of my homework and work on my biceps. Chugging an energy drink won’t do it for me, though. It gives me a boost that works for an hour and then I’m tired again!”

Besides caffeine, most energy drinks contain more than 125 calories and over 30 carbohydrates (not to mention enough grams of sugar to rot your teeth.) These added ingredients are okay, in small quantities, but a “caffeine overdose” can produce nasty side effects. After consuming four or more of such beverages, nausea, agitation, and, in sever cases, seizures and heart palpitations may occur.

As if the adrenaline rush doesn’t end there, “natural energy” also comes forms of bars, pills, and “Rocket Shots” (intense versions of the original energy drink.) Energy bars contain hidden fats and calories, but are not addictive like energy drinks. On the contrary, caffeine pills are highly addictive and can leave the user irritable and anxious after the initial buzz. Rocket Shots, for quick-fix caffeine junkies, wouldn’t be that bad if they weren’t packing a punch 10 times as powerful as the average energy supplement.

If an individual still wants a short high or actually enjoys the taste of an energy drink, Red Bull, or another beverage lacking Ephedra, would be the best way to go. There are, however, healthier solutions. A teen should sleep- at the minimum- eight hours each night. Eating vitamin-rich foods and starting each morning off with a nourishing meal (like yogurt, a bagel, and a cold glass of milk) are also beneficial tips. Plus, they sound more appetizing than an artificially flavored peanut butter chunk bar anyway, right?

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