Is Red Bull Bad for You? Why You Should Steer Clear of Energy Drinks

Learn how energy drinks can spike your blood pressure and cause other damaging effects in your body.

why you shouldn't drink energy drinks

A 2015 study found that after adults drank one 16-ounce can of an energy drink, the average systolic blood pressure of the participants increased by 6.2 percent.

© Andrey_A | iStock/GettyImages Plus

Guaranteed, quick energy in a can or bottle? Sounds too good to be true, right? That’s where energy drinks often come into play, but not without significant potential health risks. These beverages might be tempting when you’re tired but need to keep yourself alert. But are they safe? Are energy drinks bad for you? short answer is that they are likely not. In fact, there’s growing evidence that energy drinks can contribute to significant physiological harm in your body.

The Dangers of Energy Drinks

The answer to “Is Red Bull Bad for you?” is self-explanatory when you consider that energy drinks often contain the following:

  • High levels of caffeine (about 4 cups of coffee)
  • High levels of sugar
  • Artificial colors and flavors
  • Added stimulants and compounds

Putting all these factors together, energy drinks like Red Bull really are not good for your body. High levels of caffeine and sugar can be extremely dangerous to the body and have even been shown to stop the heart when consumed in excess.

The acidity of energy drinks is potentially harmful to bone, muscle, and brain health. Energy drinks are also extremely addictive, causing you to depend on them to boost your energy. They may also elevate blood pressure, as we discuss below.


After Drinking Just One Energy Drink, Blood Pressure May Elevate

A 2015 study found that after adults drank one 16-ounce can of an energy drink, the average systolic blood pressure of the participants increased by 6.2 percent after consumption, while the average diastolic blood pressure increased by 6.8 percent after consumption.[1]

Additionally, norepinephrine levels increased by 74 percent after drinking the energy drink; elevated norepineprhine can cause changes in blood pressure, heart rate, and heart function.[1] Researchers conclude that the changes in blood pressure and norepinephrine levels may increase one’s chances of cardiovascular problems.

Other studies have found similar effects—that energy drinks lead to significant increases in blood pressure readings, which can increase cardiovascular problems, as well as cause anxiety after consumption.[2]

Caffeine itself has blood-pressure-raising effects, which may partly explain why energy drinks are so dangerous when it comes to keeping blood pressure in the healthy range.[3] But studies show that energy drinks raise blood pressure by other mechanisms, too, different from caffeine alone.[4]

A study reported by the American Heart Association (AHA) found that energy drinks can increase blood pressure and cause changes in the heart’s electrical activity. Healthy young adults that drink 32 ounces of an energy drink had heart and blood pressure changes that were more than expected from the amount of caffeine. These dangers may be due to the addition of other stimulants added to caffeine. AHA recommends that anyone with a history of heart or blood pressure problems should avoid energy drinks.


High caffeine and sugar levels, as well as the high risk of addiction, are all reasons why children, especially those with underlying heart conditions, should avoid energy drinks [3]. Energy drinks are not safe for children and should be avoided.

So, How Can A Person Get Energy Without an Energy Drink?

If you want to avoid the negative health effects associated with energy drinks, and especially if you have high blood pressure and want to protect your heart, stay away from products like Red Bull and 5-Hour Energy. Instead, look to natural alternatives for boosting your energy levels.

For starters, try an energy-boosting food to keep you alert instead. You also may want to look to make improvements to your overall diet and use vitamins to increase your energy levels.

Here are some of the best foods for energy. Try these delicious, energy-sustaining combos!

best foods for energy instead of energy drinks

The best foods for energy include combinations of protein and whole grains to keep you alert longer. Next time, try these combos instead of an energy drink.

Originally published in 2015, this post is regularly updated.


[1] JAMA. 2015 Nov 8:1-3. [Epub ahead of print]
[2] Circulation. 2015;132:A12689.
[3] Pediatrics. 2011 Mar;127(3):511-28.
[4] Physiol Rep. 2015 Feb 25;3(2). pii: e12290.
[5] Energy drinks may provide jolt to heart, blood pressure | American Heart Association

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UHN Staff

University Health News is produced by the award-winning editors and authors of Belvoir Media Group’s Health & Wellness Division. Headquartered in Norwalk, Conn., with editorial offices in Florida, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, … Read More

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