Energy drinks are one of the most common drinks because they help to increase physical performance. But the problem lies in how long this effect actually lasts.
Last year, the World Health Organization tagged energy drinks as a “danger to public health” after they found that its consumption is on the rise.
More so, lots of people consume more than two cans of energy drinks, all in a bid to remain active and focused. This is a wrong practice as the Caffeine contained in these drinks have underlying health effects.
The effects only last for a few minutes, and before you know what’s happening you begin to feel tired, and even have a headache.
So, if you’d like to learn what energy drinks are about, and what exactly happens in your body when you take energy drinks, then continue reading.
More importantly, we’d discuss how long energy drinks lasts and better alternatives.
Let’s get started.
What are Energy drinks?
Energy drinks are colored beverages marketed to enhance mental and physical performance. Simply put, they are sold to boost your energy levels, keeping you active for so long.
A common ingredient used in the production of energy drinks is Caffeine. Some brands also add other plant-based stimulants like Ginseng ans Guarana.
Due to its purpose, the amount of caffeine added to energy drinks can range from 80mg to over 500mg. In fact, one 5-ounce cup of java contains around 80 to 100 mg of Caffeine.
Also, energy drinks are high in sugar. A 250 ml can of your fave energy drink contains a whole 27 grams of sugar! That’s a lot, considering that the maximum daily intake of sugar is no more than 25 grams.
Next time you go to buy an energy drink, remember that just one can can lead you into excess sugar consumption.
More so, excess of everything is bad. Although sugar helps to boost your energy, it still has unfavorable side effects.
Asides an increased risk of heart diseases, sugar can lead to obesity – which is an excessive weight gain, amongst several other serious health conditions.
A study reported by Medical News Today found that energy drinks alter the heart function of healthy adults, while another study linked energy drink consumption to other unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking.
Now, the major question is, “What does energy drinks do to the body?” We’d go over that in details in the next section.
How does energy drinks affect your body?
Within just 10 minutes of consumption, caffeine and other stimulants in the drink enters your body, and triggers a rise in heart rate and blood pressure.
Over the next 15-45 minutes, the caffeine levels in the bloodstream reach their peak. At this point, the individual will feel more focused, alert, and concentrated.
A science communicator and food researcher, Dr. Stuart Farrimond in his report to The Daily Mail, says that “Caffeine is a crafty drug that temporarily blocks adenosine [a chemical involved in how tired we feel] pathways, giving you a boost while allowing ‘feel good’ molecules in the brain – such as dopamine – to be released more readily. You feel more alert and you feel better about yourself,”
In the next 30-50 minutes, you must have finished your drink, and your body has absorbed all the caffeine by now. At this point, your liver reacts by absorbing more sugar. It is also during this point that your body has absorbed most of the sugar in the drink as well.
According to Dr. Farrimond, “Yes, ordinarily you would expect all the caffeine to be absorbed by about 45 minutes after drinking, although it could be longer if drunk as part of a meal.
‘The liver breaks down caffeine and caffeine itself does indeed raise blood sugar levels. It’s not as straightforward as the infographic suggests, however.
‘Caffeine can make low blood sugars worse in diabetics, for example. Interestingly, caffeine seems to be good for the liver, and coffee consumption has been linked to lower rates of liver disease and liver cancer. The same hasn’t been shown for energy drinks, however.”
Withing an hour, the effects of the caffeine will die down and you’ll begin to experience “sugar crash.” Your energy levels will begin to feel low and tiredness will set in.
The next 5-6 hours is the half-life time of the caffeine. At this point, you body will achieve a 50% reduction in the amount of caffeine in the bloodstream. Women who are on birth control pills have this time doubled for them.
According to Dr. Farrimond, “Pregnancy, liver damage, and other drugs can also slow the rate at which caffeine is eliminated from the body.”
Also, “children and teenagers have a significantly longer half-life, meaning caffeine will remain in their bloodstream for longer and at higher levels than for adults. This is why caffeinated drinks can cause behavioral problems and anxiety issues in children.” said Dr. Farrimond.
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After 12 hours of taking your energy drink, for most people, all the caffeine must have been removed from your body.
Within 12 to 24 hours, most people will experience caffeine withdrawal with symptoms such as headaches, irritability and constipation.
Dr. Farrimond said: “Caffeine withdrawal symptoms are usually overstated and aren’t as bad as with think they are.
Withdrawal symptoms can last for up to nine days and will depend on the amount of caffeine we drink. Everyone’s different, of course, but a lot of the ‘withdrawal’ symptoms seem to be in our mind.”
For regular energy drinkers, it takes around 7-12 days for the body to become tolerant of daily caffeine dosage.
An individual is unlikely to experience a boost from the beverages once their body gets used to them.
According to Dr. Farrimond, “We do become tolerant of caffeine over time – needing more to get the same effect. it would be interesting to find out more about these ‘studies.”
Factors that affect removal of Caffeine in the body
The removal of caffeine from the bod takes an average of twelve hours. But this can vary depending on the following factors;
Age is a major factor that affects the speed and efficiency of Caffeine. In fact its efficiency tends to increase with age, reaching its peak in adulthood.
As I mentioned earlier, Caffeine has a half-life of 5 to 6 hours in adults, while in infants, the half-life of caffeine is about 80 hours on average.
#2. Body Height/Weight/Fat
Your body height/weight/fat can be a huge factor that determines how quick your body consumes caffeine.
A person who is tall and heavy will most likely break down 100 mg of Caffeine much faster than a person who is short and light.
Usually, the greater the Caffeine dosage you consume relative to your body size, the slower your body will get rid of it and vice versa.
More so, having greater body fat is known to speed up metabolism. So, people with more fat may process Caffeine at a much faster rate.
Genes also play a major role in the breaking down of caffeine. Studies have shown that people with specific genes can break down Caffeine up to 40-times quicker than individuals with other genes.
This means that some individuals may have faster metabolism and clearing of Caffeine, while others may experience a prolonged time.
#4. Food Intake
Absorption of Caffeine into your body is also affected by the food you eat. Individuals who drink energy drinks on an empty stomach will absorb Caffeine faster than those who have it after a whole meal.
Specifically, people who consume a high dietary fiber meal will not absorb Caffeine quickly.
Hence, this delay in absorption time will lead to a consequent delay in the removal of Caffeine from your body.
#5. Caffeine Tolerance
When you continually use caffeine over time, you’d notice a decrease in its effects on your body. This is known as caffeine tolerance.
It means your body has adapted to your dosage of Caffeine, hence you can’t experience the rush effects of Caffeine anymore.
You’d have to increase your caffeine dosage to have such effects. And this is not healthy for you.
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How do you get energy drinks to wear off?
The truth is that, there’s not much you can do to make an energy drink wear off from your body faster than you body can naturally metabolize its ingredients.
As earlier explained in this article, the immediate effects of an energy drink is felt with the first 10 minutes of consumption, and reaches its peak at 45 minutes. Within the next 2-3 hours, the effects slowly begin to wear off.
Also, the ingredients of energy drinks will stay in your system for up to 12 hours.
So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the effects of Caffeine to your body, here are some tips to help you calm down;
- Drink plenty water. Caffeine causes increased production of urine. So you’d have to replace the water lost from urination.
- Avoid drinking anymore caffeine for the rest of the day, as an extra energy drink may just worsen the situation
- Take a walk
- Practice deep breathing. This should keep you calm for a bit and make you feel better.
How to reduce the amount of Caffeine in your body
One of the best ways to cut Caffeine is to swap synthetically caffeinated drinks for natural energy drinks, or just water.
Natural energy drinks are made with Caffeine that coes from naturally occurring sources, like green tea.
More so, natural caffeine seldomly exists alone. It’s often present with a range of healthy vitamins and amino acids.
These substances balance the level of caffeine in your body, and delivers it in a steady manner.
This promotes a more sustainable energy boost, as opposed to synthetic Caffeine, and provides focus and mental clarity for longer periods of time.
More so, the release of natural Caffeine can help prevent the side effects, jitters and subsequent effects of synthetic Caffeine that is commonly found in energy drinks.
What amount of energy drinks is enough for a day?
Energy drinks help to boost physical performance, and hence contain a great deal of sugar and caffeine.
However, this level of sugar isn’t good for the body, as it causes some underlying health conditions.
According to Mayo Clinic, the average healthy adult can safely take up to 400 mg of caffeine a day.
Considering that the average energy drink has between 100 – 300mg of caffeine per can, its within limits to drink up to 3 can per day, going by the average 400mg of caffeine per day.
Still, too many energy drinks have high sugar concentration, and taking los of it in a day can result to other unintended health conditions.
A typical can of Red Bull or Monster can have anywhere from 20 to 30 grams of sugar per serving, which is on par with sodas like Coke or Pepsi.
Having established this, you can have at most two cans of energy drinks per day, but since they are unhealthy, its better to consume them sparingly, especially those with lots of sugar.
Points to Note
According to The Daily Mail report, guidelines for caffeine are 400mg per day and so having a can of energy drinks per day shouldn’t pass this. But, the sugar and addiction that can be produced from doing this is something you should take note of.
All over the world, there have been researches ongoing into the effects of energy drinks in America.
Admissions to emergency departments that were energy drink-related doubled from 2007-2014 according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Dawn Report.
Energy drink companies often compare their drinks to coffee with many coffee shops offering high caffeine drinks, take a Starbucks Venti Caffe Americano which contains 300mg of caffeine which is nearly four times that of a 250ml can of Redbull.
Dr Stuart said: ‘Tiredness is a big killer: about 500 deaths a year are caused by driving while sleepy. In moderation, caffeine can help you stay awake if you are driving late at night or in the afternoon slump after lunch.
‘But rather than trying to get pumped up with a can of Red Bull, it would be far better to pull over, get a cup of coffee and take ten minutes to rest.
In general, energy drinks last about 10 minutes on average, before the effects start to wear off.
Due to some factors, some may experience its effects longer than others.
I hope this post answers all your questions.