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Are Energy Drinks Bad & Dangerous?

Is It Time To Put Down That Can Of Monster?

Posted by ColossusFitness - March 24th, 2016

Energy drinks. Most of us will have had our fair share or them before, and a lot of us will still be using them now as a convenient and delicious source of caffeine. However, most of us also probably know that energy drinks aren't the greatest source of energy, given that most of them are full of sugar and chemicals which you can't even pronounce. The most common complaints I hear from people about energy drinks are...

  1. Do you know how much caffeine those things have?!
  2. Do you know how many dangerous chemicals are in those?!

But why are energy drinks given a bad reputation?  For starters, lets tackle number 1.

Do You Know How Much Caffeine Those Things Have?

First of all, let's discuss what a normal, or 'healthy', limit of caffeine is for an adult with good health. The FDA recommends a maximum dosage of 400mg of caffeine per day. This is a very arbitrary number, considering that it's standardized despite the fact that human sizing, biology and anatomy vary so greatly. Therefore its crucial that you consider your weight, lifestyle and health before you crank your caffeine dosage right up to 400mg after having none at all. In fact, limit or avoid caffeine all together if you have any of the following reactions when consuming caffeine...

  • Insomnia
  • Nervousness
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Stomach upset
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Muscle tremors

Assuming you don't suffer from any of the above, you live a healthy lifestyle, and have normal heart and blood pressure levels, then you're probably OK to use coffee, pre-workouts or energy drinks to give you a much needed boost each day.

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How Much Caffeine Do Energy Drinks Have?

Energy drinks contain nowhere near as much caffeine as you might have guessed. Most energy drinks have between 80 - 160mg (as expected, there are some exceptions too). Chances are if you walk over to your local convenience store, you’re going to find a can with between 80 - 160mg. 'Monster' energy drinks have around 160mg per can, while 'Red Bull' sits at a solid 80mg.

But wait…That's nowhere near the maximum daily FDA limit? How can these have too much caffeine? Well, the simple answer is, they don't. In fact, assuming you’re not having caffeine from anything else, you could effectively have two energy drinks per day and still be below the daily-recommended limit. In fact, drinks like a Venti Blonde Roast at Starbucks (often a favorite), have more than 460mg of caffeine!

460ML OF CAFFEINE. That to me and our friends at the FDA is way too much. It would only take one of these to blow your caffeine intake for the day. Clearly there is a double standard here, and some unfounded prejudice against energy drinks. Instead of focusing n the negatives, we should be looking at the positives of caffeine.

Why Is Caffeine Beneficial?

Some benefits of caffeine include...

  • Improved cognitive ability and focus.
  • Improved energy.
  • Improved glycogen re-synthesis at 2-3mg per lb of body weight.

This proves that those who question the amount of caffeine energy drinks have, clearly have not done any research of their own, let-alone looked at a can to see just how reasonable they are in terms of caffeine. But now let's look at the chemical side of energy drinks.

Do You Know How Many Dangerous Chemicals Are In Those?

Here are the most common chemicals in energy drinks, along with some important notes about each chemical.

1. Ginseng (Safe)

  • One of the most common natural herbal remedies available.
  • 100% Natural.

2. Vitamin B’s (Safe) Also known as (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin or nicontinic acid, pantothenic acid, pyriocine, biotin, folic acid)

  • Any excess of these get flushed from the body.
  • Stated to potentially have benefits for increasing energy.

3. Sugar (Safe)

  • Sugar is fine in moderation and as part of a balanced diet.
  • However, like with caffeine, be careful with your intake because too much leads to crashing, diabetes etc.
  • Most cans have 50g or more.
  • We recommend you stick to sugar free energy drinks with aspartame/stevia.

4. Aspartame (The Danger?)

  • European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) noted, after copious reviews, that aspartame is safe for ALL human consumption. (This includes pregnant women and children “our vulnerable groups”).

“But wait Josh”, you may say. “My chemical fearing friend says that aspartame will give me cancer, wont it?” Lets debunk this right here and now, this all came from an old study in 2005, where researchers found development of brain tumors in rats given aspartame. This is true but, the key is in the details of this study – the results (the development of brain tumors) were based off of drinking more than 2000 cans per day. I would call someone who drinks 3 - 4 per day an "excessive drinker", but theoretically, even they would be safe.

5. Taurine (Amino acid, also safe)

  • Best amino related to athletic performance and metabolism increase.
  • However, not naturally produced (chemical variation).
  • Beneficial for your body and performance.

6. Green Tea

  • Small levels of caffeine.
  • Natural – from green tea leaves.
  • DOES have cancer fighting benefits and provides antioxidants.
  • MIGHT assist in weight loss, lower blood pressure and may act as a slight diuretic.

7. Guarana

  • Derived from the South American Guarana plant.
  • Has 2x more caffeine than coffee beans per their weight.
  • Might assist in weight loss.

8. Green Coffee Extract

  • Comes from un-roasted coffee beans.
  • Provides caffeine.

9. Ginko Bilaba

  • Chinese Ginko Tree.
  • Might fight fatigue and improve memory and brain function

10. L-Carnitine

  • Amino acid.
  • DOES assist with fat loss, aid bone strength, heart health, and is an antioxidant.
  • MIGHT improve strength.
  • Improves endurance.
  • You only really need this if you’re deficient, and that’s unlikely.

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NOTE: Common chemicals found in pop (soda) and juice were not included in this list. I wanted to cover energy drinks specifically, which are seen as especially detrimental. The point of this article is to prove energy drinks do not contain any dangerous chemicals.


You can see that there aren’t any chemicals that are going to negatively impact your health or well being. There’s no liver, kidney or heart melting evil potion designed to harm you upon consumption, or later in life for that matter. However, be sure to remember that energy drinks in excess can potentially be dangerous, and can have some serious side effects (as noted near the beginning of the article). Caffeine overdose is a real thing, and too much caffeine can negatively impact well-being and lifestyle.

Be sure to use this new-found information wisely. Everything should be consumed in moderation – too much of anything can be negative or dangerous. All in all, used correctly, than can be a great too to give you an extra edge in any aspect of life. So go ahead, sip that energy drink with pride.

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Intermittent Fasting (IF)

There has been a lot of buzz in the fitness community surrounding Intermittent Fasting (IF) and its fat loss and muscle gain...


very good info , i enjoyed reading this article Josh and Kyle, thanks for sharing this  :)


Anything's dangerous if you overuse it. It's like the sucralose article that was making the rounds. The headline screamed "Splenda causes leukemia in mice". Buried further in the story were the facts that the scientists took a bunch of mice and fed them hundreds of times their body weight in sucralose only every day until their deaths. But we're somehow supposed to be surprised that these animals died?.  

Scott_Herman  Edit  Delete  Close

lololol @jcgadfly that was a great response.  Nowadays people find a reason for everything to kill you... it is very annoying

jcgadfly  Edit  Delete  Close

I had someone respond to me when I first made that comment in another forum with , "Well, you need to be careful. If too much can kill you quickly a little bit can kill you slowly." I replied, "Water is essential for life but too much of it is fatal. Would you advocate against drinking water because it might kill you slowly?"

Scott_Herman  Edit  Delete  Close

That is the main point I tell people.  Too much of anything can be a bad thing.