Are Energy Drinks Bad for You? 3 Things You Need to Know About Monster, Red Bull, and Other Energy Drinks

If you continue using energy drinks, keep in mind that you're doing so for their taste and not for any type of health benefit.

are energy drinks bad for you

Are energy drinks bad? A growing number of studies are finding that products like Monster, Red Bull, and 5-Hour Energy offer a variety of health dangers with no unique benefits.

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Before you reach for a case of Monster energy drinks, consider this: Are energy drinks bad for you? A growing number of studies are finding that products like Monster, Red Bull, and 5-Hour Energy can result in a variety of health dangers without offering any unique benefits.

The extreme acidity and high caffeine content of these beverages can cause rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, dehydration, vomiting, cardiac arrhythmias, seizures, headaches, insomnia, and even death.[1,2,3,15]

Why are Energy Drinks Bad: Extreme Caffeine and Simple Sugar

A typical energy shooter can contain as much as 171 mg of caffeine per ounce, which is 38 times the concentration of an ounce of cola soft drink and seven times the concentration of an ounce of coffee.[5] The ingredients in Monster, Red Bull, and other energy drinks can contain as much as 505 mg of caffeine per serving (about nine times more than a 12-ounce cola and almost four times as much as the average 6-ounce cup of coffee).[5]

Large quantities of caffeine can cause elevated blood pressure and heart rate, vomiting, seizures, and death.[1,2] Caffeine overconsumption can also lead to severe dehydration by causing the body to eliminate water, salt, and nutrients.[4]

  • A 14-year-old boy with no medical history was taken to a doctor after drinking Red Bull before running a race. His heart rate was 130 beats per minute, double that of a normal resting heart rate. Further tests showed atrial fibrillation and fluttering. In a later examination—after he had stopped using energy drinks—the boy’s heart patterns returned to normal.[6]
  • A man’s heart stopped during a motocross event as a result of drinking eight cans of Red Bull.[16]
  • A student experienced heart palpitations after mixing Red Bull with alcohol.[16]

With those points in mind, let’s showcase three things you need to know about why energy drinks are bad.

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1. Energy Drinks Are Strong Acids

Energy drinks can have pH values as low as 1.5, which is stronger than sulfuric acid and nearly as strong as battery acid.[7] In one laboratory study, the acidity of Red Bull caused deeper tooth erosion than Coke, 100% apple juice, Diet Coke, and Gatorade,[8] and an additional study found that energy drinks erode teeth twice as much as sports drinks.[9]

Acid intake is also potentially harmful to bone, muscle, and brain health. More than 25 studies have established that the body moves calcium away from cells and into the bloodstream to compensate for excess acidity.[10] Although it is difficult to associate this with a specific disease such as osteoporosis, the cells that rely the most on calcium exist in the skeletal, muscular, and nervous systems.

2. Energy Drinks Do Not Improve Athletic Performance

Energy drinks are often marketed and sold in stores under the same category as sports drinks, but studies indicate that they do not enhance or promote athletic ability.

Two studies on Red Bull demonstrate that it does not extend the time it takes for runners to become exhausted and that it does not improve strength, weight volume, or 1-rep max in weight lifters.[11,12]

Furthermore, energy drinks contain far more carbohydrates than are recommended for active people, which can cause gastrointestinal distress by restricting the movement of fluid into the bloodstream.[3]

3. You Can Boost Energy Without Risking the Dangers of Energy Drinks

Research shows that caffeine offers some mental benefits— such as better focus and sustained attention, faster reaction speed, and enhanced memory. But you don’t need to use energy drinks to obtain these benefits.[13]

One study suggests that three to four cups of coffee per day can provide caffeine benefits as well as the antioxidant and anticancer benefits of coffee.[14]

But it’s important to remember that your body’s source of energy is food, not caffeine. Jami Cooley’s blog on 8 Energy Boosting Foods to Keep You Alert provides a great list of foods such as green tea and wheatgrass that provide long sustaining and healthy energy reserves. Another way to improve your energy level is by using vitamin and mineral supplements. Check here to learn how vitamins and minerals will trigger your body to produce more ATP.

If you continue using energy drinks, keep in mind that you’re doing so for their taste and not for any type of specific health benefit. Most manufacturers recommend that you consume them slowly and that you do not use more than two in a 24-hour period.

Share Your Experience

Do you experience unpleasant energy drink side effects after drinking Monster or 5-Hour Energy? Do you know other, safer ways of finding quick energy? Share your experience in the comments section below.

[1] Curr Opin Pediatr. 2012 Apr;24(2):243-51.

[2] Am Pharm Assoc (2003). 2008 May-Jun;48(3):e55-63; quiz e64-7.

[3] Mayo Clin Proc. Nov 2010; 85(11): 1033–1041.

[4] Amino Acids. 2006 Jul;31(1):81-3. Epub 2006 Jun 1.

[5] JAMA. Jan 25, 2011; 305(6): 600–601.

[6] Journal of Medical Case Reports 2011, 5:1.

[7] Eur Arch Paediatr Dent. 2010 Oct;11(5):253-5.

[8] Nutr Res. 2008; 28(5): 299–303./a>

[9] Gen Dent. 2012 May-Jun;60(3):190-7; quiz 198-9.

[10] Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Oct;88(4):1159-66.

[11] Strength Cond Res. 2009 Jul;23(4):1271-5.

[12] J Strength Cond Res. 2013 Aug;27(8):2248-54.

[13] Tijdschr Psychiatr. 2008;50(5):273-81.

[14] Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2008 May;48(5):464-86.

[15] Pharmacotherapy. 2013 Aug;33(8):779-86.

[16] Drug Alcohol Depend. Author manuscript; available in PMC Jan 1, 2010.

This article was originally published in 2014 and has been updated.

  • That bit about pH is very unscientific. pH is a measure of hydrogen ion concentration NOT strength. The pH of sulphuric acid or any water soluble acid will change depending on the amount of water it is dissolved in.

  • charles

    I’d like to what energy drink has 171 mg of caffeine per ounce? Perhaps 171 mg per 16 ounces…

  • Nothing wrong with an exercising 14 year old with a heart rate of 130bpm at all. Energy drinks are fine as long as you don’t chug 8 in one go like a numpty fluck.
    Overall Blehhh article

  • Harry

    I used to have a rockstar everyday before school but then I realised I had had them so much they now barley had any affect at all appart from feeling extremely tired around lunchtime, in my opinion you can have them every so often and they are fine but I wouldn’t have them daily and no more than one a day

  • This is all dumb. I’ve drank 8 monsters in the past week, and no affect.

  • Michael

    Im 19 and im a bricklayer/builder, i drink 3-5 cans of monster a day and usually i also have coffee if the costumer offers. If i dont have atleast one monster i feel tired and just slow, i dont know if its mind over matter but i genuinely think they do wake up and give you the little kick up the backside to get you working. I do plan on cutting down and i know its bad for your health but genuinely i think they do have there benefits.

  • Latex W.

    I merely such as the very helpful information and facts a person supply for a reports. I am going to take a note of your blog and also examine again here regularly. We are a bit i might be advised quite a few brand new goods right here! Best of luck for one more!

  • I drink 6 to 8 monster assault 16 oz a day and coffee… I work 12 hours a day and commute 1.5 hours each day… I have tried to stop but cannot. If I stop I get killer headaches and no energy at all… Heart is good, and sleep great Asleep in five minutes or less.

  • april c.

    My legs are killing me after drinking Monster coffee drinks.

  • Melanie

    I had every one of those symptoms every time I had a redbull .

  • I drink about 18 to 24 monsters a day and I feel fine

  • teeth hurt when drinking 2 sugar free monsters a day and a candy bar. Not a first but after the whole summer of doing this I am sorry I didn’t realize the dangers sooner.

  • Brian p.

    This article is stupid. 170mg of caffeine is 7 times more than in an ounce of coffee?
    A monster has 140 MG of caffeine. It’s 16 ounces. That means that coffee has proportionally more caffeine! And then you encourage alternatives like coffee and green tea, two drinks known for they’re caffeine content! But you say green tea has no caffeine?…..

  • I have to disagree. I am very sensitive to caffeine. I could never have an energy drink, ephedra, not even coffee because it would give me the jitters. REALLY BAD. Lately I’ve been very tired and I decided to
    Try redbull. NEVER AGAIN, – I got the jitters. I saw my friend drinking Monster and she said it tastes good and gives her energy. I tried it and I tell
    You that I have energy all day with just one can. There are no side effects whatsoever. I love that. I don’t have it everyday because everything should
    Be taken in moderation. But I think Monster is better than a cup of coffee.

  • Zakria A.

    Monster can wakes me up and makes me more alert , but it also prevents me from sleeping ,I wake up at 6.00am and i drink a can at 10 am , i stay alert all day and feel good , and 7pm my body is trembling all over and my heart rate increases and i just dont feel tired at all , i eventually fall asleep at 2.00am and iam to ill to go to work the next day due to lack of sleep , Sometimes i can feel pressure like a heart beat on my left temple area …9 hiurs after i drink a Can

  • Battery acid is watered down Sulphuric acid. Approximately 36% sulphuric acid is the concentration of battery acid (I used to make the stuff). As for the comment by Brian P, maybe he should read a little closer to see that the article said 4 times not 7 times more. For the people who say they drink 4-24 cans a day, I say wait 20 years and you will see the side effects of subjecting yourself to such crap. Altogether energy drinks are EXTREMELY bad for you.

  • Shannon

    i still drink those i used to feel fine but now i cant stay awake anymore
    about 5 in min a day

  • I just had my first Monster drink about 15 minutes ago and although I feel happier and more energetic, my teeth have that “acidic” feel, which is wayyy worse than anything else I have drank, even Coke. I drank the energy drink just to try it and I think I’ll just stick to coffee for my caffeine needs. I’ve had enough damage to my teeth from over brushing and a soda addiction, I do not need more.

  • I had my first ever can of monster today at about 3:30. I felt so jittery and energetic for about half an hour but after that I just had a massive decline in energy levels. Its now 7:00 and i can barely keep my eyes open. I think this is probably because i have never had that much caffeine in my life

  • I drink at least 2 monster every Friday around 2 or 3 and then I ski the rest of the day and skiing ends at fourand I sleep perfectly and get up around 7 the.he ted day

  • I say bull crap to the 80 to 100 monster a day thing, but 8 cans a day man you need to quit.

  • 80-100 Monsters a day?! Given that they retail in the UK at just over £1 each that means you are spending between £95 and £119 a day on drinks, over £700 a week. If you think we are going to believe that then you’re living on … Planet Monster, hahaha. Laughable and pathetic comment.


    In 2004, I drank 2 Monster drinks with hopes that it would give me the much needed energy I needed with a move to a new home, Crohn’s disease and 2 toddlers! I WAS EXHAUSTED! Well…later that day, I rushed to the E.R. for fear of heart attack symptoms! E.R. doc told me this was a VERY common reaction they see OFTEN! Later, I learned through LOTS of research…several years and experimenting with my body…I have found FOOD AND THE RIGHT foods ARE ALL WE REALLY NEED for sustained energy! ACV tonics, probiotics, enzymes, raw local honey…KEEPING THE BODY ALKALINE is A MUST! Since that AWFULLY SCARY experience, I NEVER EVER touched another energy drink and never will!

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