Are Energy Drinks Bad for You? Here Are 5 Healthy Alternatives to Energy Drinks

In our fast-paced world, many of us are looking for ways to increase our energy.

Unfortunately, when we’re exhausted, we often turn to things that give us a momentary boost in energy but end up leaving us even more depleted. These can include a sweet treat, cup of coffee, or caffeine-filled, sugar-laden energy drink.

Prevalence of Energy Drinks

Ever since they hit the market in the mid-80s, energy drinks have become one of the fastest-growing segments of the beverage industry. Global energy drink sales are expected to reach $53.1 billion by the end of 2022. They’re also projected to grow by 7.2% between 2022 and 2027.

Energy drinks are the most popular “supplements” for U.S. teens and young adults, specifically young men between 18 and 34. But people (including many gamers) who subsist on a junk food and soft/energy drink diet are at a greater risk of developing severe health issues, both physically and mentally.

Are Energy Drinks Bad For Your Health?

It’s widely believed that energy drinks are bad for your health.

These beverages contain large amounts of caffeine, sugar or artificial sweeteners, and other stimulants, all of which provide a temporary energy boost. Since they fail to fuel the body’s natural energy processes, the effects of these beverages are typically short-lived and can cause long-term problems for the brain and body.

Regularly consuming energy drinks can lead to adverse effects, such as:

  • Nervousness
  • Headaches
  • Upset stomach
  • Irritability
  • Sleep issues
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Dehydration

Additionally, a study conducted by The Mayo Clinic found that just one 16-ounce can of Rockstar Energy Drink caused an increase in norepinephrine (a stress hormone) by 74% and blood pressure by 6.4% in healthy volunteers.

So, what’s in energy drinks that makes them potentially harmful to your health?

Energy Drink Ingredients

As with food and supplements, it’s recommended that you always read the label of any beverage you consume. Let’s look at some of the well-known and lesser-known ingredients in energy drinks that may create negative side effects in your brain and body:


Drinking caffeinated beverages can lead to a temporary increase in alertness. However, excessive caffeine consumption can constrict blood flow to your brain and many other organs.

Caffeine causes the release of adrenaline from the adrenal glands, putting the body into a stressful “fight or flight” mode. Caffeine also increases dopamine (a neurotransmitter) levels in the brain. Though caffeine isn’t nearly as potent as amphetamines, its effect on the brain is similar, which may explain why this stimulant/cognitive enhancer can be so addictive.


Guarana (Paullinia cupana) is a plant native to the Amazon. Roughly the size of a coffee bean, guarana seeds are often used as a caffeine additive in energy drinks.

According to research, guarana seeds have about four times the amount of caffeine as coffee beans. That means the negative effects of caffeine (listed above) may be intensified by guarana. It’s important to remember that just because an ingredient like guarana is natural doesn’t mean it can’t have negative effects on the brain and body if taken in excess.


Refined sugar is over 99 percent pure calories, with no vitamins, minerals, fats, or proteins – just carbohydrates that can spike blood sugar. This spike is typically followed by a crash, which can activate cravings for even more sugar.

Excessive refined sugar consumption can create mineral deficiencies, interfere with the actions of calcium and magnesium, trigger an unhealthy inflammatory response, increase erratic brain cell firing, and may even cause aggressive behavior. Sugar consumption has been associated with mood issues and attention problems. Research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine demonstrates that sugar’s effect on the brain is like that of powerful illegal drugs.


An amino acid, taurine acts as a stimulant to help enhance mental and physical performance. It supports the adrenal glands and is crucial for coping with stress.

The standard American diet provides 120-180 milligrams of taurine daily. According to the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, consuming an 8-ounce energy drink can increase daily intake of taurine 6 to 16 times. When paired with caffeine in energy drinks, taurine may increase heart rate and blood pressure.

If you have low energy and want a natural boost, what should you drink instead of a beverage loaded with caffeine, sugar, and other harmful ingredients?

Try these five healthy, energy-enhancing beverage options!

5 Healthy Alternative Energy Drinks to Energize Your Day

Healthy Energy Drinks | BrainMD

Brain Boost On-The-Go

Brain Boost On-The-Go was created for people who don’t like drinking plain water all day, or who simply want some variety when seeking healthy hydration.

Instead of drinking a high sugar, caffeinated energy drink that will lead to an energy crash, opt for the smarter choice. Brain Boost On-The-Go has a variety of brain-healthy nutrients to increase your energy level and overall sharpness.

Whenever your brain needs a safe, swift pick-me-up, you can count on Brain Boost On-The-Go to provide the natural brain energizers that will help you feel sharp and focused.

Ginger Tea

Ginger tea is made from ginger root. In the Ayurveda tradition, ginger is widely revered as a food, spice, and medicine. It helps improve circulation, is protective for the brain, and is especially sought out for its digestive benefits and its capacity to counter nausea, including motion sickness.

Instead of downing an energy drink, have some ginger tea instead. Ginger is a mild stimulant and its spiciness, similar to hot peppers, will help food be converted to energy faster. Ginger tea is also filled with antioxidants and nutrients that can give you an energy boost.

Protein Shakes/Smoothies

Proteins are integral components of every cell in your body. Thousands of protein enzymes are required for the healthy growth and functioning of all the cells, tissues, and organs in your body.

Protein insufficiency can lead to feeling weak and fatigued, so drinking a high-quality protein shake or smoothie can help increase your protein levels and give you an energy boost. Keep in mind that protein requires carbohydrates to produce energy, so add some fruit, dark leafy greens, and coconut water or unsweetened almond milk with 15-20 grams of protein powder into your smoothie for sustained energy.


Water is a nutrient your body needs. As with other nutrient deficiencies, failing to drink enough water can create problems for your brain and body. Even mild dehydration can impair performance in tasks that require attention, immediate memory skills, and physical performance.

Unfortunately, many people suffer from mild dehydration and don’t even know it. One of the symptoms of dehydration is fatigue. If you’re struggling with low energy, drinking water may help you feel refreshed and more energetic.

When searching for natural beverages to boost your energy, make water your first choice!

Wheat Grass Juice

A daily shot of wheat grass juice is another great way to increase your energy. One ounce of wheatgrass has 20 amino acids, 91 minerals, and is 70% chlorophyll. This power-packed tonic is a great way to get a quick shot of energy and nutrients.

Many studies suggest that wheatgrass improves blood flow, digestion, and detoxification. Its easy digestibility and rapid absorption make it an exceptional, natural energy enhancer.

Clean, Natural Energy

To be successful in today’s world, you need a clear mind, sharp focus, and clean energy.

If you’re looking for long-lasting energy, these healthy beverages are excellent choices. Unlike the energy rollercoaster, you can experience with coffee or energy drinks, there’s no dramatic drop in mood and energy with these naturally refreshing beverages.

Make the switch to these healthy energy drinks today.

Your brain and body will thank you!

At BrainMD, we’re dedicated to providing the highest purity nutrients to improve your physical health and overall well-being. For more information about our full list of brain-healthy supplements, please visit us at BrainMD.

Keith Rowe