Energy drinks are not intended for minors. And yet, energy drink bans are not the way to go.
Many states and counties in the US have tried to pass laws to prevent minors from buying energy drinks. In this episode of the Caffeine at Midnight podcast, Caffeine Scientist GreenEyedGuide describes the 3 reasons energy drink bans fail, and what lawmakers SHOULD do instead.
Energy Drink Bans Don't Address Dangerous Ingredients
People have overdosed on caffeine from shots of espresso, from pure caffeine powder, and from soda [see References, below]. A ban on energy drinks won't address situations where OTHER ingredients pose a health risk. For example, yohimbe, beta-alanine, and even B-Vitamins can be harmful in the wrong dose.
Energy Drink Bans Don't Include "Energy Drinks In Disguise"
Starbucks Doubleshot has 2x the caffeine of Red Bull. Some preworkout powders have 3x the amount of caffeine a minor can have in 1 day. Energy drink bans fail to include these products, which pose just as much risk to minors as the stereotypical energy drink.
Energy Drink Bans Don't Protect 18 Year Olds
Eighteen year olds don't magically wake up immune to caffeine toxicity. And yet, college students are more likely than minors of overdosing on caffeine. This is due to their newfound independence, peer pressure, and the stress of juggling college and Adulthood responsibilities.
Preventing a minor from buying Red Bull is not the best way to keep minors safe from the health risks associated with energy drinks. There are too many loopholes, and there are better methods that protect everyone, not just minors.
In the next episode of the Caffeine at Midnight podcast, GreenEyedGuide shares why Canada’s Energy Drink Restriction is the way to go.
When our son was brand-new, my husband and I agreed I would take the night shift because A) I did not have to work the next day, B) I’m a lighter sleeper and C) [most importantly] I can handle my caffeine. The poor guy (husband, not baby) can hardly function on lack of sleep but also runs around like a crazy person on acid when he has an amount of caffeine I’d consider “weak sauce”. Do not give this man a Red Bull – it’s only 80 mg caffeine (half the caffeine in a Grande PSL) but he will be as hyper as a puppy golden retriever.
The video below includes a portion of GreenEyedGuide’s presentation from California State University-Fullerton, Peer Health University Network meeting. Learn how caffeine content isn’t always what it seems, how consumption changes as people get older and how caffeine helps one focus for exams.
My heart was pounding. I was out of breath, but I felt exhilarated. Something inside me was ready to explode with power, like an ocean wave the second before it crashes.
For me, energy drinks and bodybuilding have a lot in common. I’m not talking about the use of caffeine for a workout. To me, it’s much more than that: I’m a biochemist who studies energy drinks and trains for bodybuilding competitions.
One fine day in the gym I had just finished my warm-up when it happened. My competitive drive collided with the realization that my next bodybuilding competition was only 7 weeks away. Like a rubber band being pulled to the limit or the moment of transition after “for meeeeee” in “Bohemian Rhapsody”, I knew I was about to unleash considerable power. I always have caffeine before my workouts, but this energy surge was something new. I turned my music up two notches, took a deep breath, then launched into my set.
[Internal energy = potential energy + kinetic energy = Yay for Laws of Thermodynamics!]
I was doing a long jump/sideways medicine ball throw circuit. I honestly can’t remember the last time my legs have jumped that far and that fast. At one point my legs were springing from one jump to the next so fast, I thought I’d fall on my face. But I kept pushing forward. During the sideways med ball throws I felt I could have punched a hole in the wall, so I used the metal post of the multi-station instead. This surge of energy stayed with me through my entire workout. I hit a new max for deadlifts and didn’t feel tired like I normally do after plyo-pushups.
For me, hitting a new max in the gym and discovering a new level of strength is very similar to finding a new energy drink. In both scenarios, I feel like I’m acquiring superpowers and the confidence that comes from knowing I can do things that were previously impossible.
I remember the first few times I tried Monster for all-nighters in college: I felt calm and focused despite the fact I was memorizing metabolic biochemical pathways at 3 a.m. I also remember my left bicep would tingle sometimes – not all the time, and not consistently, just like an eye twitch (which I also got when I was stressed: correlation is not causation).
In the gym, a foundation of strength is a prerequisite to the exhilarating energy surge like the one I described above. With energy drinks, the prerequisite is trust in the brand and knowledge of the ingredients. If it’s a brand I know and trust, the science nerd in me gets excited before the caffeine enters my system. When I first laid eyes on Red Bull Purple and Lime sugar-free Editions, I was so excited I literally jumped up and down in the grocery store.
When it’s a new energy drink from a brand I don’t know, or when I don’t understand the logic behind the ingredients, that’s a different story. We’ll save that for Part Two.