Energy drinks seem to be everywhere — in advertisements, in the hands of celebrities, and in the soda aisles at your local market. But are they worth the hype, and more importantly, are they safe for people with diabetes?
The Short Answer: No!
Energy drinks — Red Bull, Monster, Adrenaline Rush and Venom to name a few — mostly consist of sugar (or artificial sweeteners, like high-fructose corn syrup) and caffeine. Vitamins (such as B vitamins) or amino acids (such as taurine) are mixed in. Other herbal stimulants are often included, such as ginsing and guarana. Each serving packs about as much caffeine as a cup of coffee, and some brands have far more.
The caffeine and stimulants in these drinks can raise heart rate and blood pressure, interfere with sleep and sometimes cause palpitations. For people with diabetes, the sugar and high calories in energy drinks make them a poor choice. Large amounts of high-fructose corn syrup, like that found in energy drinks, can cause out-of-control blood sugar levels. Because the caffeine acts as a diuretic, it can lead to dehydration and also affect blood sugar levels. People with medical conditions related to diabetes, such as high blood pressure and heart conditions, should especially avoid energy drinks.
If your doctor says it is okay to have caffeine, you are better off with a cup of coffee or tea than an energy drink. However, because any caffeinated drink can cause dehydration, the best choice of all is water. Drinking water hydrates organs and skin, flushes out waste and toxins, helps you lose weight, keeps your immune system healthy and your joints lubricated and helps overall health. If plain water does not appeal to you, try any of the following:
• Lemon-or-lime-flavored seltzer with a splash of cranberry juice
• Squeeze a fresh wedge of orange, lemon or lime into the water
• Herbal tea or green tea (green tea has far less caffeine than regular tea or coffee)
• Raspberry-flavored seltzer with a sprig of mint
If you must have an energy drink, be sure to add the calories and carbohydrates to your daily count, and only have one serving.