5-Hour Energy, Red Bull, Rockstar….What are you putting into your body?

energy drinks

Energy drink sales have blown up! In 2002 Report Buyer estimated the market was at about $1.2 billion and would progress to $6.6 billion in 2007. And it doesn’t appear the energy drink market will slow down any time soon.

But, what are their risks and/or benefits?

Aerobic Performance:

One study by Candow and colleagues looked at the effects of sugar-free Red Bull on high-intensity run time to exhaustion in young adults. One group drank Red Bull and another group drank a non-caffeinated sugar-free placebo. They found no difference in run time to exhaustion or perceived exertion between groups

However, another study by Ivy and company showed conflicting results:  Performance on a bike test improved with energy drink consumption.

Anaerobic Performance:

Muscle strength was measured by a 3-set bench press test and endurance by an anaerobic power test on a Wingate cycle ergometer. The Red Bull group increased their total bench press reps but there was no effect on anaerobic power.

Conclusions: Similar results have been shown in other studies. Regardless of all the data on main ingredients of energy drinks (caffeine and carbs), there is limited data to show that they enhance aerobic or anaerobic exercise performance.

Recommendations: Energy drinks will not transform you into an “all-star” athlete. However, the occasional energy drink with regard to acute health risks is safe. But long-term studies have not been conducted yet. Be cautious of what you put into your body!


“Energy Drinks: Performance Effects and Safety Concerns”. Mike T. Nelson. 2012. National Strength & Conditioning Association.

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