This post was written by Sydney Ranzau, certified athletic trainer, Parkview Sports Medicine.
There’s no doubt that energy drinks are increasing in popularity these days, especially with high school and college athletes. Next to multivitamins, energy drinks are the most popular dietary supplement consumed by teens and young adults in the United States. Many young people use energy drinks to help them feel more energized and focused either during class or their workouts. However, there are some concerns surrounding the impact they can have on their health. Here’s a closer look at both the benefits and the risks of these beverages.
What are energy drinks?
Energy drinks are a type of beverage that contain caffeine, sugar, vitamins and other supplements. The combination of these ingredients is designed to give a boost of energy and increase alertness and attention.
What are the benefits?
Energy drinks contain high levels of caffeine, which is a natural stimulant that can increase awareness, improve reaction time, reduce feelings of fatigue and provide a boost of energy. Because of this, many athletes and students use them to increase their performance on the field and in the classroom.
Many young people believe energy drinks can …
- Help athletes stay focused and perform better during games and practice.
- Help athletes quickly replenish their energy stores and stay hydrated.
- Help athletes fight sluggishness from being in class all day.
- Help students feel more alert and focused during class.
- Help students stay awake and energized when studying.
What are the risks?
Energy drinks are not without risk. The ingredients in these beverages, such as the large amounts of caffeine and sugar, can have some negative effects for kids and young adults, including the risk of serious health problems.
Parents, students and athletes should be aware of the risk of:
- Elevated heart rate and blood pressure levels, which increase the chance of complications for those with blood pressure issues or heart conditions.
- Possibility of becoming dependent on energy drinks.
- Insomnia or not being able to get restful sleep.
- Increased risk of anxiety or other mental health issues.
- Increased risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
- Fatigue and decreased attention span following a crash after the initial energy boost.
Young athletes, parents and coaches must recognize the potential risks associated with energy drinks. It’s important for student athletes to learn the importance of good hydration, primarily achieved by consuming water, and other healthy habits, to help them succeed both physically and mentally.