Q: What are the dangers of drinking more than one 16-ounce can of Rockstar energy drink per day? I am a 47-year-old man in good health.
A: Well, I don’t think you’re at risk of death-by-energy-drink anytime soon.
Of course, one container of the stuff offers a whopping 260 calories—about the same as one Snickers bar or a small order of fries at Burger King. So, if you’re having one (or more), don’t be deluded into thinking that you’re not making a sizeable contribution to your waistline, too, because you may very well be. If a typical man takes in around 2,500 calories per day, two of these drinks could constitute around 20 percent of your daily caloric intake. So if you’re trying to lose weight and you drink these calorie-loaded liquids every day, you may shed inches by simply dropping this stuff from your diet.
But what if you’re not worried about your weight because you’re using this drink for "energy"?
Technically, any food or drink that contains any calories will give you energy. So eating a piece of chicken or a piece of bread or a slice of cheese will give you energy. You get quicker-digested energy when you take in pure sugar. So ”energy drinks” not only are typically high in calories, but in sugar, too. Rockstar lives up to this bill: With every can you’re also taking in about 14 teaspoons of sugar (slightly more than you’ll get from the same amount of Coca Cola).
You also will typically get a bonus energy jolt from caffeine added to energy drinks. Rockstar won’t let you down here: Averaging around the same amount as Red Bull and more than Mountain Dew, it contains around 150 milligrams of caffeine. Drinking two cans daily is the equivalent to about three to five cups of hot tea or two to three cups of regular coffee. Still, you’ll probably get less than what you’d get in a large fancy coffee drink at Starbucks.
Keep in mind that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends—but does not regulate—that a 12-ounce serving of a soft drink contain a maximum caffeine concentration of 65 milligrams. But, for most people, one or two cans of Rockstar may not be that big of a deal when it comes to caffeine. The American Dietetic Association says that, for most healthy adults, 200 to 300 milligrams per day pose no physical problems.
But if you find that you’re feeling fatigued or depressed, have difficulty concentrating or are coming down with headaches if you don’t get your daily dose, you could be addicted to the stuff. (And it takes only about 100 milligrams of caffeine per day to get hooked.)
Children, pregnant women and women of reproductive age are advised to take in less than 300 milligrams per day. You may be getting too much caffeine if you feel nervous, jittery, get insomnia and/or experience heart palpitations. People who have anxiety, panic attacks, high blood pressure or some kinds of stomach and heart conditions also may want to cut back or lay off caffeine entirely to avoid exacerbating those symptoms.
What supposedly makes these drinks better than the average soda is that you also get a multivitamin and herbal supplement with your Rockstar. So along with many of the same ingredients as a Coke (carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, natural and artificial flavors, caffeine and caramel color), you get 100 percent of the recommended daily allowance of a sprinkling of the B vitamins (which have not been proven to give you more energy, by the way). You also get a dose of the nonessential amino acid taurine, and a compound known as l-carnitine that’s popular with bodybuilders, along with inositol and some herb extracts like milk thistle, ginkgo, guarana and ginseng.
How effective or healthy any of these compounds really are is unclear. Guarana contains caffeine, so that probably will add to your buzz. Researchers at the Department of Nutrition at the University of California in Davis reviewed energy drinks and their ingredients to see what research supports the claims made by many of the marketed brands on sale. They found some evidence that energy drinks can improve physical and mental performance, and possibly boost driving ability when tired, and that the drinks may decrease mental fatigue during long periods of concentration. But they noted that the research is sparse and it’s unknown whether it’s just the caffeine boost or help from the herbs. While caffeine has been shown to provide endurance boosts in sports performance, herbal supplements are untested and so it’s hard to say whether they can help or hurt during tough workout sessions. (Find out more specifics about each ingredient.)
Perhaps the biggest danger of getting hooked on this kind of a drink is that you’re training your taste buds to crave strong chemical flavors in order to quench thirst. Plus, you’re taking in a highly processed fluid, albeit one with added vitamins. But if you eat well, do you need these vitamins? Probably not. Do you need the herbs? Who knows. Do you benefit from this drink? Probably not. If I were you, I’d kick the habit. Reserve the Rockstar as a special once-in-a-while treat. And learn how to appreciate water again. If water seems bland in comparison, add a twist of lime, lemon, juice—or hey, even Rockstar—to give your H20 more pizzazz.
More from MSN Healthy Living:
- Boosting Metabolism: 10 Tips That Work
- Feel-Great Foods
- What's a Good-for-You Snack?
- Will Wine Make Me Fat?
- Vitamins and Water for Weight Loss
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