Energy... can I get it from a bottle?
Many of us - especially teenagers - grab an energy drink to give us that pick-me-up we need to get us through the day. But energy drinks can do more harm than good and there are better ways to get the energy we need, writes Niall Grieve.
Originally published in October 2019 and updated in June 2022 with energy drinks checker at the bottom of the page.
According to a study by Visram et al. our consumption of energy drinks increased from 235 million to 600 million litres (155%) between 2006 and 2014, with a recent European Food Safety Authority survey also finding that 68% adolescents consume energy drinks.
How have energy drinks become a part of the norm?
safefood research has found an increase in the products on the market. Most major brands are heavily advertised online and run their own social media accounts with hundreds of thousands to millions of followers.
Gym-goers are consuming energy drinks to get them through a session after a long day at work. Students are drinking them when trying to pull an all-nighter in the library when they are neck deep in exam season and it’s nearly impossible to go to a nightclub without being offered some form of energy drink as a mixer. You may even find parents drinking them if their kids have kept them up all night!
But if they give us the energy we need to get us through the rest of the day, what’s the harm?
There have been more and more scientific reports on energy drinks being released over-time, all of which highlight that regular consumption of these drinks do more harm than good. Common symptoms linked to energy drinks include headaches, sleep problems, anxiety and fatigue (exactly what you’re trying to prevent!). This is because the high levels of caffeine these drinks contain may make it harder for you to fall asleep, which will obviously mean you’ll wake up groggy and tired the next day.
The National Poisons Information Centre in Ireland have also reported possible side-effects such as confusion, an increase in your heart rate and seizures. Not to mention these drinks also tend to be high in sugar, which are linked to chronic diseases such as obesity and type 2 diabetes.
So how else can you get the energy you need to get you through the day?
Here are a few tips to help keep you feeling energised:
- Drink plenty of water – if you are dehydrated this can cause you to feel fatigued.
- Minimise screen-time and turn the lights low an hour before bed as this will help you fall asleep easier at bedtime, meaning you’ll wake feeling refreshed and ready to go.
- Exercise! This gets the heart pumping and blood flowing which will help you feel more energised and can also help you sleep at night.
- Avoid foods and drinks high in sugar. They may give you a short burst of energy but will eventually cause you to crash and feel as tired as ever!
- Eat regular meals that are packed with fruits, vegetables and wholegrain carbohydrates. These nutrient dense foods are also full of fibre which will help maintain your energy levels throughout the day.