TRUTH: Most energy drinks contain a lot of caffeine or a lot of sugar (or both) – which can provide a short burst of energy, but generally isn’t worth it because you’ll crash afterwards.
Depending on the drink, it may contain one or more of these other classes of ingredients:
Stimulants– they stimulate the central nervous system but all are dangerous in large quantities
Amino Acids– The research on their effectiveness varies
B-Vitamins– Help with turning carbs, fat and protein into energy in our bodies; if you get enough B vitamins in your diet, supplementation is complete unnecessary
“Natural” Additives– a variety of plants, roots and extracts that claim to improve performance. Research is not conclusive.
Basically, none of these categories of ingredients give you energy. Sugar gives you energy because it has calories, but that’s it.
Recently, the FDA has begun examining energy drinks more closely because 13 people have died shortly after consuming them. That does not mean that the drinks are responsible, but we just don’t have enough information yet and there’s clearly a link though the jury is still out on causality.
BOTTOM LINE: Some of these ingredients may help stimulate your neurological system or speed up the rate that you use energy but that’s not always a good thing. Chances are you’re going to “crash” afterward and a small snack would have been a better option. If you choose to consume energy drinks, do so in moderation (no more than 16 ounces per day).