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What’s in an Energy Drink?

Energy drinks are a common way for many people to get an extra boost of energy. Red Bull, Bang, Reign, Monster and Rockstar are among the popular brands. However, be aware of what these drinks contain.

Most energy drinks contain a lot of sugar ranging from two to three times the total recommended daily amounts. Check out the Nutrition Facts label to learn the amount of “added sugar” in your favorite beverages. The daily limits are 36 grams of added sugar per day for men and 25 grams for women, according to the American Heart Association.

Extra calories from sugar (or any food) can promote weight gain. Switching to sugar-free energy drinks could be a first step in reducing sugar intake and could help with weight loss.

Caffeine is abundant in most energy drinks. These beverages contain anywhere from 80 to 300 milligrams of caffeine per 8-ounce serving. One container of an energy drink can provide as much as several cups of coffee.

Many athletes look to energy drinks before a workout for extra energy. This may not be the best option because caffeine is a diuretic. A diuretic causes water loss. If you are exercising, you already are losing water and need to keep hydrated as much as possible.

Some people should avoid consuming energy drinks, especially women who are pregnant or lactating, patients with diabetes, and those with peptic ulcer disease or preexisting cardiovascular conditions such as hypertension, congestive heart failure and dysrhythmias.

Along with caffeine and sugar, these drinks also contain other ingredients such as guarana, ginseng, taurine and vitamins. Some of these ingredients can have a negative impact on your health. Guarana can cause sleeping and heart problems. Ginseng is known to cause disruptions to menstrual cycles and heart problems.

Before grabbing an energy drink, consider more healthful forms of energy such as a handful of nuts and some flavored water or 100% juice.


Keira Moen, NDSU Extension Community Nutrition Intern
Reviewed by Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist



How Much Sugar is Too Much? Retrieved Oct. 2, 2020, from

The Thermic Effect of Sugar Free Red Bull: Do the Non-Caffeine Bioactive Ingredients in Energy Drinks Play a Role? (2015). Retrieved Oct. 2, 2020, from

Safety Issues Associated with Commercially Available Energy Drinks. (2008) Retrieved Oct. 2, 2020. from

Sponsored in part by the Sanford Health Foundation.

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