Experts: Energy Drinks, Exercise Don't Mix

There is a warning for athletes or anyone who exercises: skip the energy drinks before working out.

Leading experts in the medical community said the caffeine-laden drinks mixed with exercise could be a dangerous combination and could lead to serious health problems.

Energy drinks can give you that extra boost when you’re feeling sluggish.

“Some days I'll drink one a day. Some days I'll drink four energy drinks a day," said Lauren Sturges, who drinks them prior to working out.

Many athletes said the drinks help improve performance.

“To run a little faster, to go a little longer," said Sturges.

The ingredients in these popular drinks vary, but they all contain caffeine and sometimes caffeine-like herbs.

“Small doses of caffeine can improve your mental performance and your physical performance," said Elisa Zied of the American Dietetic Association.

But health and medical experts are concerned about the combination of energy drinks and exercise.

The drink cans range from about 80 milligrams of caffeine -- the equivalent of an average cup of brewed coffee -- up to 250 milligrams per serving.

Experts said people often drink more than one at a time.

“Too many caffeine-laden beverages can definitely increase your risk of getting dehydrated," said Zied.

That is because caffeine is a diuretic, which causes your body to lose fluid. Add that to exercise, when athletes are already sweating, and it could be dangerous.

“They can develop problems with cramps, they can have elevated body temperature, and even run into problems, if it's severe enough, with seizures or abnormal heart rates," said sports medicine director Gregory Stewart.

Some energy drinks are now banned at many schools and school-sponsored events.

Energy drink-maker Red Bull said, “There are no dangers or drawbacks associated with the consumption of Red Bull.”

However, the company added, “As Red Bull has not been formulated to deliver re-hydration, we always encourage people who are engaged in sport also to drink lots of water during intense exercise.”

“That's really the body's best fluid. That's really the best thirst quencher and fluid replacement for athletes," said Stewart.

The experts agreed water is critical.

For athletes not willing to give up their energy in a can, Zied advised, “They need to make sure that they're taking in extra water to offset the effects that these drinks have on the body."

Experts said the risk of side effects is increased even more if you’re taking stimulants such as ADHD medications or consuming other caffeinated beverages in addition to energy drinks.

Print this article Back to Top