“There was a time when we would get our caffeine intake from coffee and cola, but now there are a number of caffeine containing beverages and we need to be careful because over a period of 24 hours that caffeine intake is cumulative,” says Dee Rollins, R.D., PhD, dietitian with Baylor Regional Medical Center at Grapevine.
In fact, experts say energy drink consumers should keep careful track of the amount of caffeine they get in a day.
“If you know that 400 milligrams a day is the upper limit you can check the back of the labels and make sure that you don’t get more than that,” explains Dr. Rollins.
It may sound like a lot, but 400 milligrams is roughly the equivalent of just one energy drink and two cups of coffee. Getting more than that can lead to jitteriness, nausea, heart palpations—and in extreme cases more severe symptoms.
“It can be so bad that if you take too much caffeine you can end up in the hospital thinking you have flu-like symptoms and really it’s caffeine overdose.”
So remember as you’re sipping—take it slow or it may not just be energy you end up with.
“We don’t think of caffeine as being a drug that we need to monitor, but we can overdo it,” says Dr. Rollins.
For most people—if they’re not getting more than around 400 milligrams of caffeine a day—these energy drinks are safe. But here are some important things to remember:
- Don’t drink energy beverages while exercising. It can lead to severe dehydration. If you choose to drink them while exercising, drink lots of water before, during and after your training and ensure that you get enough electrolytes as well.
- Don’t ever mix energy drinks with alcohol—it’s popular—but doing so can not only mask how intoxicated you really are, it again can be extremely dehydrating.
- In addition to caffeine, most of these energy drinks contain very high amounts of sugar and sodium which can be dangerous for diabetics or those with high blood pressure.