We are right smack in the middle of January and most health clubs are packed. This time of year, many workout novices and veterans are looking for a pick-me-up to get them through a workout.
As a fitness professional, I too am guilty of hitting the coffee shop before work or mid-day for some liquid energy. However, I do know that nothing takes the place of proper sleep, hydration and good nutrition.
Many others take it beyond a hot cup of java and reach for an energy drink.
According to a recent article in the New York Times, “A rising number of patients, many of them young people, are being treated in emergency rooms for complications related to highly caffeinated energy drinks like Red Bull, Monster Energy and 5-Hour Energy."
The article cited new federal data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, indicating that in the last four years hospitals saw double the amount of patients for symptoms resulting from consuming the drinks.
More than 20,000 visits were reportedly due to energy drinks which consist of "such problems, which are typically linked to excessive caffeine consumption, can include anxiety, headaches, irregular heartbeats and heart attacks.”
The question being asked by many is how safe are these drinks and how much is too much.
Most of the drinks are also laden with sugar and the amino acid taurine. According to the Mayo Clinic's website, when it comes to taurine and energy drinks in general, moderation is also important.
“Little is known about the effects of heavy or long-term taurine use. It's also important to remember that other ingredients in energy drinks, such as high amounts of caffeine or sugar, can be harmful. For example, too much caffeine can increase your heart rate and blood pressure, interrupt your sleep, and cause nervousness and irritability.”
The New York Times article said that a majority of those treated were in their late teens and early adulthood. “About 42 percent of the people treated in emergency rooms for problems related to energy drinks had consumed the drinks along with alcohol or other substances, like Adderall and Ritalin.