Spotlight: Red Bull, Monster, Burn, and other energy drinks


Recently, several supermarket chains in the United Kingdom prohibited the sale of energy drinks to children under 16 years of age, a measure not at all exaggerated due to the many consequences that their excessive consumption can cause. So that we better know what is in a drink of this type, today we put Red Bull, Monster, Burn and other energy drinks under the microscope.

What's in energy drinks?

Energy drinks, which are promoted as an "aid" to avoid fatigue, to concentrate better or perform better, include different components with a stimulating effect on the central nervous system such as taurine and caffeine among other ingredients, as can be seen in the list from Red Bull:

Water, sucrose, glucose, citric acid acidifier, carbon dioxide, taurine 0.4%, acidity regulator (sodium carbonates, magnesium carbonate), caffeine 0.03%, vitamins (Niacin, pantothenic acid, B6 and B12), flavorings, colorants (caramel, rivoflavin)

As you can see, in addition to stimulating substances such as taurine and caffeine, energy drinks are rich in free sugars, which according to the order declared on the packaging of one of them, constitute the main ingredients after water.

These sugars are precisely those that are absorbed quickly and the WHO recommends reducing in the usual diet in order to take care of health, because among other things, together with caffeine they can have an addictive effect on our body.

Although energy drinks contain B-complex vitamins in varying amounts, their composition is based on water, simple sugars, and caffeine or other stimulant substances.

Nutritional analysis of energy drinks

Beyond seeing the list of ingredients of the products that we want to know in depth, it is important to analyze their nutritional information to know in addition to the calories, the nutrients and the amount of each of them as well as other non-nutritive substances.

In this case, we show the nutritional contribution of the most popular energy drinks in Spain per 100 ml in the following table:

Drinks Calories Sugar Sodium Caffeine monster Energy 48 Kcal 11 g 80 mg 32.5 mg Monster Lo-carb 9 Kcal 1.4 g 80 mg 30 mg Red bull 45 Kcal 11 g 80 mg 32 mg Red Bull Zero 4 Kcal 0 g 0.04 mg 19 mg Rockstar 59 Kcal 14 g 0 mg 64mg Rockstar sugar free 3 Kcal 0 g 50 mg 33 mg Burn 60 Kcal 14.5 g 0.04 mg 36.8 mg Burn Zero 2 Kcal 0 g 0.05 mg 36.8 mg Missile 45 Kcal 11 g 0.19 mg 30 mg

As we can see, the nutritional composition of energy drinks is very similar, being the versions with sugar very similar to a soft drink in terms of contribution of calories and simple hydrates or free sugar but with an extra sodium and caffeine in its composition.

Energy drinks have minimal amounts of B-complex vitamins, so much so that they are not mentioned in their nutritional information, but they provide calories exclusively derived from sugars and caffeine in proportions equal to or greater than coffee.

They are drinks concentrated in empty calories, as they do not provide good nutrients for the body, but on the contrary, they contain substances such as caffeine, sodium and sugar that in excess damage the health of the body.

Energy drinks: nothing good under the microscope

In nutritional terms, energy drinks do not show anything good, as they are a combination of free sugars that we should reduce with caffeine and sodium in high proportions. But beyond its nutrients themselves, the worst are its effects with a high consumption.

It has been shown in an EFSA study that the majority of consumers are adolescents and that a large percentage do so in high amounts, either acutely or chronically (more than 4 or 5 times a week), therefore , the recent ban is not unjustified.

A risk analysis published in 2013 indicates that the excessive consumption of energy drinks as well as their combination with alcohol (also frequent) can cause cardiovascular and neurological disorders such as arrhythmias, tachycardia, insomnia, irritability, excitement, among others.

Likewise, as we said, they are not poor in sugars but reach 50 grams per can, an appreciable amount if we consider that the WHO ideally recommends not to exceed 25 grams a day in a 2000 Kcal diet, and they are not poor in caffeine, as a can can provide a similar or greater proportion of this stimulating substance than coffee, of which the EFSA recommends a consumption of between 200 and 300 mg daily.

Energy drinks, then, are stimulating drinks, of completely industrial origin and which we cannot abuse, since their consumption is not free of side effects. And if we talk about nutrients, nothing good is under the magnifying glass.

Image | iStock and Pixabay

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