Friday, December 15, 2017

This Is No Bull .....

Energy drinks from Cold Storage
When I was doing my National Service in the army, some of my platoon mates who were having issues with their fitness would frequently load up with "energy drinks" such as Red Bull. Especially in the morning before physical training and/ or Standard Obstacle Course (SOC) training sessions. They definitely did before the SOC tests too.

I'll ask them why and they'll say that it gives them a "boost" to be able to finish the training strongly or pass the test. Some of them will also mix Red Bull with alcohol when they book out on Fridays so they can party the rest of the night away.

Later while studying in university, I found out some of my classmates did the same when cramming for an exam or writing a paper. A published paper found that 51 percent of college students consumed at least a bottle of energy drink a month.

So I'm sure you would have seen, heard or perhaps even tried some of the above. Well, if energy drinks such as Red Bull is your drink then you may want to read on.

Sure, the energy drinks may give you a temporary boost, but it can also give you a whole lot of other problems. Previous studies show that they can mess with your sleep, make you gain weight and increase your blood pressure. They can also lead to substance abuse, mental health problems, higher risk of developing diabetesdental problems and even kidney damage.

Energy drinks are advertised to boost/ improve energy, stamina, athletic performance and even your concentration. Similar to sports drinks (Gatorade, Powerade, 100 Plus etc), the target consumer market for energy drinks are adolescents and young adults.

Energy drinks typically contain lots of sugar, high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, caffeine, certain vitamins, minerals and non nutritive stimulants (such as guarana, ginseng, taurine, L-carnitine, inositol, yerba mate and D-glucuronolactone).

An average 500 ml can of energy drink contains about 54 grams of sugar, way above the recommended 36 grams for men. You've read here that it is through consuming excessive sugar that causes you to get diabetes.

According to the article referenced below, some energy drinks reviewed contained as much as 207 mg of caffeine (recommended daily allowance for adults is 400 mg/ day, 100 mg/day for adolescents). When you consume more, you may feel anxious, depressed or even harbor suicidal thoughts.

Excessive caffeine along with other stimulants such as taurine, guarana and ginseng can also affect your blood pressure.

The authors concluded that current evidence suggest that health risks outweigh any short term perks or benefits you may experience from energy drinks.

Now you know.


Al-Sharr L, Vercammen K et al (2017). Health Effects And Public Health Concerns Of Energy Drink Consumption In The United States: A Mini-Review. Frontiers in Public Health. 31 August 2017. DOI: 10.3389/fpubh.2017.00225.

Heckman MA, Sherry K et al (2010). Energy Drinks. An Assessment Of Their Market Size, Consumer Demographics, Ingredient Profile, Functionality, And Regulations In The United States. Comp Reviews in Food Sci Food Safety.  29 April 2010. DOI: 10.1111/j.1541-4337.2010.00111.x

Now, that's a lot of Red Bull in there
I took the picture above and below while riding to my previous clinic a few years ago thinking I may one day use the pictures. Glad I can use the pictures now.

A closer look

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