Energy drinks have become a go-to source of quick energy, but they can be addictive and have many adverse side effects. They can lead to crashes, jitters, and withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking them.
Energy drinks have become a popular companion for people who need a little jolt to get through their daily grind. But alas, energy drinks can be like a siren’s call. They can lure you in with their promise of enhanced alertness and productivity, only to leave you crashing and craving more.
While you can’t get addicted to energy drinks, you can grow dependent on some of their ingredients. FYI: Caffeine is the main culprit.
Here’s everything you need to know about energy drink addiction – which is basically caffeine dependence – plus how to break the cycle.
Simply put, addiction is when someone compulsively seeks out a substance despite the consequences. Over time, these substances can change the way the brain and body function.
Energy drinks contain caffeine and sugar, both of which are addicting. An 8-ounce can of energy drink usually contains about as much caffeine as a 5-ounce cup of coffee or two 12-ounce cans of soda. But of course, this depends on the brands you’re comparing.
Psst. Not all experts agree that sugar is addicting. But it’s still a good idea to watch your intake to reduce your risk of other health concerns.
Here are some signs that you may be addicted to energy drinks:
- You feel like you can’t start your day without an energy drink.
- You find yourself needing more and more energy drinks to get through the day.
- You experience withdrawal symptoms when you don’t have an energy drink, such as headache, fatigue, or irritability.
- You find that you’re drinking energy drinks more often than you’d like, or more than you intended.
- You’ve tried to cut back on energy drinks but haven’t been able to.
If you’re addicted to energy drinks, you might experience:
- If you’re consuming too much caffeine from energy drinks, you might experience:Anxiety
- Brain fog
- Acid Reflux
- Acid reflux
- Twitchy muscles or “jitters”
In the long-term, energy drink dependence might lead to more serious health issues like:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Dental problems
- High blood pressure
- Caffeine intoxication
- Kidney injury and hepatitis
- Heart disease and higher risk of arrhythmia (aka irregular heart beat)
- Risky behavior including a higher risk of becoming addicted to other substances
It’s important to point out that there’s a big difference between drinking an occasional Red Bull and being addicted to energy drinks. You’re probably all good if you sip on an energy drink every now and then to get through a long drive or to stay up to meet a deadline. Like grandpa used to say, “Everything in moderation.”
If you start yearning to fill one of those water backpacks with some Monster, you’re probably abusing energy drinks. If you’re abusing energy drinks, you’re generally drinking too much too quickly and developing a tolerance and dependence on caffeine.
But it’s not just the caffeine and sugar in energy drinks that can be bad for your bod. Many energy drinks also contain ingredients like taurine and guarana, which might increase heart rate and blood pressure. Though, this is mostly anecdotal and we need more research to show the full effects.
And let’s not forget about the whopping doses of B vitamins found in many energy drinks, which can cause a host of negative side effects, including skin irritation and acne.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it might be time quit energy drinks. Here are a few tips to help you kick the habit:
- Gradually reduce your intake. Instead of going cold turkey, try reducing the number of energy drinks you have each day. Weening yourself off of energy drinks can help minimize withdrawal symptoms.
- Find alternative energy sources. Instead of relying on energy drinks, try getting your energy from natural sources like exercise, good nutrition, and plenty of sleep.
- You might want to “go nuclear.” In other words, don’t buy energy drinks and don’t have them in the house. Tough love, but effective in kicking the habit.
Once you commit to kicking your reliance on energy drinks, you might experience some of these symptoms of withdrawal:
- Low energy
- Fatigue and drowsiness
- Difficulty focusing on one task
- Brain fod
You might not be so fun for a little while, but the pep in your step will return if you give it some time and effort. Stick it out and watch the pendulum of your mood swing back to normal.
But while you’re in it, withdrawal is no walk in the park. These tips might help get you through it:
- Get some sleep. Rest is the best and quickest way to restore your health.
- Get some exercise. Once you wake up, get that body moving. Exercise is a great way to naturally boost your mental and physical health.
- Eat a balanced diet. Fill your plate with nutrient-dense foods and lean proteins.
- Seek support. It can be helpful to talk to a friend, family member, or healthcare professional about your energy drink addiction. They can provide support and help you come up with a plan to quit.
- Keep yourself busy. Finding activities to occupy your time can help you resist the urge to reach for an energy drink. Try picking up a new hobby, going for a walk, or spending time with friends and family.
Believe it or not, there are ways to get energy and focus without all the sugar and caffeine. Here are some healthier alternatives to energy drinks:
- Water. It’s not gonna give you wings or make you fly, but it’ll keep you hydrated and that’s always a good thing. And it’s probably way cheaper than your favorite energy drink.
- Tea. A little more exciting than water, tea comes in caffeine-free varieties and contains loads of antioxidants, You can get all fancy with different flavors and stuff, too.
- Fruit. Good old Mother Earth comes through with a natural energy boost thanks to all the sugar and nutrients. Plus, it’s not gonna give you the jitters like those energy drinks.
- Nuts and seeds. These little guys pack a lot of protein and healthy fats that’ll keep you feeling full and energized. And they’re portable, so you can take them with you wherever you go.
- Snack bars. These can be a convenient way to get some energy on the go, but read the label! Choose ones with whole food ingredients that are low in added sugar.
- Smoothies. These are a great way to get a bunch of nutrients and energy in one tasty drink. Just throw some fruit, veggies, nuts, seeds, and maybe some protein powder into a blender and boom, instant energy.
If you need a constant river of energy drinks to get through the day, you might be addicted to or dependent on the caffeine in energy drinks. Energy drinks give you a quick and intense boost of energy, but too much caffeine and sugar can cause a crash.
Recognizing that you might be drinking too many energy drinks and taking the steps to cut back on all that caffeine and sugar can be tough. But the health benefits are totes worth it!
There are plenty of healthier ways to boost your energy, like getting regular exercise, eating a balanced diet, and getting enough sleep. Plus, you’ll save a ton of money on energy drinks and improve your overall health in the process.
So, go ahead and give energy drinks the boot! Your body (and wallet) will thank you.