What is an Energy Drink?
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health:
"Energy drinks are widely promoted as products that increase energy and enhance mental alertness and physical performance. Next to multivitamins, energy drinks are the most popular dietary supplement consumed by American teens and young adults. Men between the ages of 18 and 34 years consume the most energy drinks, and almost one-third of teens between 12 and 17 years drink them regularly."
In other words, an energy drink gives you the feeling of having more energy via caffeine, vitamin, and mineral boosts. Most energy drinks, unfortunately, are unhealthy though, because they're packed with way too much sugar, caffeine, and sometimes harmful chemicals. Many energy drinks have taurine, ginseng, caffeine, and B vitamins.
What is the Difference Between an Energy Drink and a Sports Drink?
Drinks like Gatorade and Powerade are sports drinks that aim to hydrate you via electrolytes, which help to supercharge hydration.
Conversely, most energy drinks (aside from Early Bird) draw hydration from the body, which ends up dehydrating you.
Although a sports drink may be a great way to quench your thirst after an intense workout or sporting event, water is always the best thing for your body (this goes without saying in pretty much any situation.)
What's the bottom line here?
A sports drink is typically packed with electrolytes to hydrate your body, while an energy drink typically uses caffeine and other ingredients to make you feel energized, awake, and alert.
How Long Does it Take to Feel the Effect of Energy Drinks?
Since energy drinks are in liquid form, they're absorbed by your esophagus, throat, and stomach pretty quickly, especially when compared to food.
You should feel the effects of caffeine in about 10 to 15 minutes, but the vitamins and minerals from the drink will take far longer to absorb into your bloodstream and make their way to your brain.
This is how drinks like Early Bird provide fast-acting, long-lasting energy. The initial burst of energy comes from the caffeine entering your bloodstream, followed by an extended-release of other vitamins over the course of four to six hours.
How Many Energy Drinks Can I Have in a Day?
I'm assuming you're a young (below 55) healthy person with a healthy weight and no underlying health conditions like diabetes or heart disease. If that's the case, you can have up to 400 milligrams of caffeine a day, which usually equates to about 2-4 drinks per day.
But there's more than just caffeine in an energy drink - for one thing, having more than a single drink each day will likely mean sugar overload unless you're drinking a sugar-free option like Early Bird.
You also need to watch out for an overload of B vitamins commonly found in energy drinks, added to give energy throughout the day. 100-300mg of B vitamins in a single day is entering dangerous territory.
Even if you are healthy, there have been plenty of young Americans ages 12 to 17 admitted to emergency rooms for energy drink-related health emergencies in 2007 according to the CDC - some 1,145, to be exact.
Here's the moral of the story:
Drinking a standard energy drink every day isn't a good idea for your health in the first place, but if you're going to, limit it to just one a day to be on the safe side.
If you're a few cans deep and start getting fidgety, you've had enough.
What's the Worst Energy Drink for You?
Drinks like Red Bull, Monster, Rockstar, and Full Throttle are some of the most popular - and unhealthy - energy drinks on the market.
Having the drink once in a while won't hurt you if you like their taste, but even then I'd avoid them. Considering their insanely high sugar content among other things, they're not a healthy choice and will likely do more harm than good.
What is the Most Dangerous Energy Drink in the World?
Cocaine - no, not the kind you snort, although I wouldn't recommend using that type for energy either. There is an energy drink called cocaine, that has triple the caffeine of a can of Red Bull. Especially for those with heart conditions, a can of this stuff could be lethal if consumed too quickly, or at all.
Full Throttle, 5-hour energy, and VPX Redline are also pretty bad choices. More info on the most dangerous energy drinks here.
Is One Energy Drink a Day Ok?
From the standpoint of caffeine intake, one energy drink a day should be okay if you're below the 400 mg threshold.
According to a Mayo Clinic dietitian, Katherine Zeratsky, "Healthy adults who choose to drink energy drinks should not exceed one can per day." But there are many other factors to consider.
There's a big difference between drinking Monster every day and drinking Early Bird in the morning.
Many energy drinks have chemicals in addition to caffeine - stimulants - that can raise heart rate, increase blood pressure, make you restless, give you the jitters, increase anxiety and insomnia, etc.
Generally speaking, I'd avoid mainstream energy drinks like Monster, 5-hour energy, Red Bull, etc. on a daily basis.
Is Coffee Better Than an Energy Drink?
It depends on what you mean by "better."
According to Spoon University:
"A Starbucks grande Caffe Americano (16 oz) has 225 mg of caffeine and a Red Bull can (8 oz) has 80 mg."
However, some energy drinks might have more caffeine than coffee, especially large cans with "extra energy." Most healthy adults can have 400 mg of caffeine per day maximum, so keep that in mind.
Unlike energy drinks, coffee also has one main ingredient: coffee beans. Energy drinks, on the other hand, have a ton of added ingredients like artificial colors and flavors, B vitamins, taurine, etc.
Most energy drinks are also loaded with sugar - even if you add a few scoops of sugar to your coffee and a splash of milk, it's usually less than a typical can of Red Bull.
If you're to choose between Red Bull and a regular cup of coffee, coffee is a better alternative. But if you want a healthy alternative to coffee, join Club Early Bird so you can wake up early and get sh*t done without the crash!
What is the Best Time to Take an Energy Drink?
If you're about to study, work late, or take the graveyard shift, I recommend having your energy drink 5-10 minutes before starting. You'll start to feel the effects immediately and they should last for an hour or two.
Drinking an energy drink first thing in the morning, however, may lead to a short burst of energy followed by a crash later in the day. Instead, drinking a supplement like Early Bird is a better option first thing in the morning, as you'll get a quick burst of fast-acting energy that lasts throughout the day, without the crash, not to mention hydration and mood enhancement!