The Washington Post

Energy drinks may have negative as well as positive effects, article says

Energy Drinks
A wake-up call
Men’s Health, March

For people on the go, an energy drink may seem like the only way to get through the day. But according to experts cited in the article “Alternative Fuels,” energy drinks are not always what they promise. Often they move you into an up-and-down cycle of stimulation and exhaustion. “We guzzle energy drinks and then can’t sleep at night,” says physician Matthew Edlund, author of “The Power of Rest.” “We sit all day and then read e-mails at 3 a.m.,” and end up feeling exhausted the next day.

How about decaf energy drinks that don’t use caffeine, instead boasting huge doses of B vitamins as an energy booster? Ted Cooperman of, which tests nutritional products, says that doesn’t really work. “You won’t feel a B-induced boost, since the energy provided by B vitamins isn’t stimulating like caffeine.” Men’s Health writer Laura Roberson suggests FRS Healthy Energy drinks. She says they contain reasonable levels of B vitamins and quercetin, which a 2010 study found can help fight fatigue and boost your cells’ mitochondria over time, energizing your muscles.

Roberson says it’s hard to beat simple brewed coffee, which doesn’t have ingredients found in coffee energy drinks that may cause problems. For instance, “panax ginseng has been linked to pretty significant side effects, including abdominal pain and headaches,” says University of Massachusetts toxicologist Richard Church. And guarana “is just an herbal guise for an extra shot of caffeine: Its seeds pack about four times the caffeine of coffee beans,” Roberson writes. One helpful suggestion for end-of-day droopiness: a handful of almonds. “Protein helps increase insulin production, and insulin can have an alerting effect,” according to sleep specialist Michael Breus.

Whitney Fetterhoff

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