Tip Sheet: Lowdown on Liquid Power-Ups

You've seen them on the shelves: Rows of aggressively labeled cans with names like Amp, Rockstar and Diesel. It doesn't seem that long ago that Red Bull was a curiosity, a European import beloved by clubgoers and exam-time crammers. But now energy drinks are seemingly everywhere, and even some head-turning crossovers have entered the mix. (Alcoholic or celebrity-endorsed energy drink, anyone?)

But the buzz is, of course, about the buzz: Is the caffeinated kick noteworthy? Claudia Morrison, a nutritionist for Washington Hospital Center, says the amount of caffeine in energy drinks isn't much different from that of coffee. Your reaction will depend on your java habits. "People who have not been drinking a lot of caffeine will discover that they are a lot more jittery," Morrison says.

She warns that alcohol and caffeine can be a troubling mix. "Both are diuretics, so it can lead to greater dehydration," Morrison says. "When you use the energy to boost you up, the sugar and caffeine will make it hard to judge your level of intoxication."

What we can judge: taste. So we gathered a panel to put a mix of energy drinks to the test, rating each on a scale from 1 (ick!) to 4 (yum!).
By Justin Rude, Washington Post Staff Writer

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