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Turns Out, Energy Drinks Are Even Worse For You Than We Thought

You may have had an inkling that caffeine-heavy drinks can harm your health, but you may not have realized it was to this extent.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

We already know that energy drinks don't top our list when it comes to the healthiest drinks out there. But these caffeinated powerhouses may actually be even worse for our health than we even realized in the past.

Energy drinks are beverages that contain ingredients that, as the name implies, give us a boost of energy. From caffeine to taurine to loads (and loads) of sugar, these beverages are packed with ingredients that are known to support energy levels.

But according to a recent systematic review and meta-analysis of 32 studies and 96,549 individuals published in the journal Sports Health, energy drinks should be consumed with caution.

Why? Even though these convenient concoctions can help sleepy-eyed people make it through a demanding workday or a late party night, there are some serious health effects that can occur when these drinks are gulped down.

Read on to learn about six serious side effects that the authors suggest can occur when energy drinks are included in a diet, and for more on how to eat healthy, don't miss 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.

They can cause insomnia

young woman drinking energy drink while studying
Shutterstock/Antonio Guillem

People who enjoy energy drinks experience more difficulty sleeping than those who do not drink energy drinks. And not getting quality sleep is linked to a slew of health risks, including hypertension, dyslipidemia, cardiovascular disease, weight-related issues, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and colorectal cancer.

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They can lead you to drink more alcohol

energy drink

You may not have realized that there is a correlation between energy drink and alcohol consumptions—but there is.

According to the meta-analysis, those who drink alcohol with energy drinks tend to consume even more alcohol than those who drink without these caffeinated beverages.

Drinking alcohol in excess can increase the risk of physical injuries, high blood pressure, and a weakened immune system. Plus, combining alcohol with energy drinks can lead to impaired perception of one's state of drunkenness, which can lead to participating in unsafe behaviors like impaired driving.

They can make you feel jittery

studying energy drinks

When compared with a control group, those who drink energy drinks experience more jitteriness, according to the researchers of the meta-analysis. This side-effect can be something that many people feel uncomfortable experiencing, and can be easily stopped by quitting these drinks. If you are a naturally nervous person, you may want to choose another drink if you are an energy drink lover, as these drinks can increase nervousness even more, which can lead to even more jitters.

They can undercut your mental health

energy drink

The researchers found that, when focusing on consumers under the age of 18, the odds of experiencing stress, depression, and suicidal thoughts were higher among those who leaned on energy drinks compared with those who did not.

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They can cause acute caffeine intoxication

energy drinks

Acute caffeine intoxication is an effect that can happen when people take in too much caffeine from any source, including energy drinks. And when it happens, people can experience symptoms like vomiting, seizures, and an increased heartbeat.

They can put a serious strain on your heart

Energy drinks

Those who drank 32 ounces of energy drinks experienced outcomes like increase blood pressure 3-4 hours after consumption, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. The energy drink consumers also showed negative effects on the heart's electrical activity in the same study.

Especially if you already have any heart health concerns, you may want to swap out your energy drink for herbal tea or to help keep your ticker healthy.

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Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LD, CLEC, CPT
Lauren Manaker is an award-winning registered dietitian, book author, and recipe developer who has been in practice for almost 20 years. Read more about Lauren
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