Energy drink

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An energy drink is a type of beverage containing stimulant drugs, chiefly caffeine, which is marketed as providing mental and physical stimulation. They may or may not be carbonated and many also contain sugar or other sweeteners, herbal extracts and amino acids. They are a subset of the larger group of energy products, which includes bars and gels. There are many brands and varieties of energy drinks.

Coffee, tea and other naturally caffeinated beverages are usually not considered energy drinks. Soft drinks such as cola may contain caffeine, but are also not energy drinks. Some alcoholic beverages, such as Four Loko, used to contain caffeine and other stimulants, but such drinks were banned in the United States in 2010.[1] Speaking in 2014, Dr Brian Morton of the Australian Medical Association advised that people should not consume more caffeine than the equivalent of two cups of coffee per day.[2]


Energy drinks were an active subset of the early soft drink industry; Pepsi, for instance, was originally marketed as an energy booster. Coca-Cola's name was derived from its two active ingredients, both known stimulants: coca leaves and kola nuts (a source of caffeine). Fresh coca leaves were replaced by "spent" ones in 1904 because of concerns over the use of cocaine in food products. The federal lawsuit "United States v. Forty Barrels and Twenty Kegs of Coca-Cola" forced the Coca-Cola to reduce the amount of caffeine in its formula by 1916, thus bringing an end to the first wave of energy drinks.[citation needed]

In the UK, Lucozade Energy was originally introduced in 1929 as a hospital drink for "aiding the recovery;" in the early 1980s, it was promoted as an energy drink for "replenishing lost energy." One of the first post-Forty Barrels energy drinks introduced in America was Dr. Enuf. Its origins date back to 1949, when a Chicago businessman named William Mark Swartz was urged by coworkers to formulate a soft drink fortified with vitamins as an alternative to sugar sodas full of empty calories. He developed an "energy booster" drink containing B vitamins, caffeine and cane sugar. After placing a notice in a trade magazine seeking a bottler, he formed a partnership with Charles Gordon of Tri-City Beverage to produce and distribute the soda.[3] Dr. Enuf is still being manufactured in Johnson City, Tennessee and sold sparsely throughout the nation.[citation needed]

In Japan, the energy drink dates at least as far back as the early 1960s, with the launch of the Lipovitan brand. However, in Japan, most of the products of this kind bear little resemblance to soft drinks, and are sold instead in small brown glass medicine bottles, or cans styled to resemble such containers. These "eiyō dorinku" (literally, "nutritional drinks") are marketed primarily to salarymen. Bacchus-F, a South Korean drink closely modeled after Lipovitan, also appeared in the early 1960s and targets a similar demographic.[citation needed]

In 1985, Jolt Cola was introduced in the United States. Its marketing strategy centered on the drink's caffeine content, billing it as a means to promote wakefulness. The drink's initial slogan read: "All the sugar and twice the caffeine."[4]

Energy drinks are sometimes sold in resealable bottles.

In 1995, PepsiCo launched Josta, the first energy drink introduced by a major US beverage company (one that had interests outside energy drinks), but Pepsi discontinued the product in 1999.[citation needed] Pepsi would later return to the energy drink market with the AMP brand.

In Europe, energy drinks were pioneered by the Lisa company and a product named "Power Horse", before Dietrich Mateschitz, an Austrian entrepreneur, introduced the Red Bull product, a worldwide bestseller in the 21st century. Mateschitz developed Red Bull based on the Thai drink Krating Daeng, itself based on Lipovitan. Red Bull became the dominant brand in the US after its introduction in 1997, with a market share of approximately 47% in 2005.[5]

In New Zealand and Australia, the leading energy drink product in those markets, V, was introduced by Frucor Beverages. The product now represents over 60% of market in New Zealand and Australia.[6]

UK supermarkets have launched their own brands of energy drinks, sold at lower prices than the major soft drink manufacturers, that are mostly produced by Canadian beverage maker Cott. Tesco supermarkets sell "Kx" (formerly known as "Kick"), Sainsbury's sell "Blue Bolt" and Asda sell "Blue Charge"—all three drinks are sold in 250-milliliter cans and 1-liter bottles—while Morrison's sell "Source" in 250-milliliter cans. Cott sells a variety of other branded energy drinks to independent retailers in various containers.[citation needed]

Since 2002, there has been a growing trend for packaging energy drinks in bigger cans.[citation needed] In many countries, including the US and Canada, there is a limitation on the maximum caffeine per serving in energy drinks, so manufacturers include a greater amount of caffeine by including multiple servings per container. Popular brands such as Red Bull, Hype Energy Drinks and Monster have increased the amount of ounces per can.[citation needed]

The energy shot product, an offshoot of the energy drink, was launched in the US with products such as "5-Hour Energy," which was first released onto the market in 2004. A consumer health analyst explained in a March 2014 media article: “Energy shots took off because of energy drinks. If you’re a white collar worker, you’re not necessarily willing to down a big Monster energy drink, but you may drink an energy shot.”[7][8]

In 2007, energy drink powders and effervescent tablets were introduced, whereby either can be added to water to create an energy drink.[citation needed] As of 2009, the industry has moved towards the use of natural stimulants and reduced sugar.[citation needed]

Energy drinks are also popular as drink mixers—Red Bull and vodka is a popular combination. In the US, a product called "Four Loko" formerly mixed beer with caffeine, while Kahlua is a coffee-flavored alcoholic beverage.[7]

On August 14, 2012, the word "energy drink" was listed for the first time in the Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary.[9]


Energy drinks generally contain methylxanthines (including caffeine), B vitamins, carbonated water, and high-fructose corn syrup (for non-diet versions). Other commonly used ingredients are guarana, yerba mate, açaí, and taurine, plus various forms of ginseng, maltodextrin, inositol, carnitine, creatine, glucuronolactone, sucralose and ginkgo biloba.[10]

The sugar in non-diet energy drinks is a fuel that can be utilized by the human body. In this limited sense, these energy drinks do contain energy. Although the caffeine and other noncaloric stimulants in energy drinks can help one feel more alert, these substances are not a source of 'energy' in the physical science sense of the word.

Some contain high levels of sugar, and many brands offer artificially sweetened 'diet' versions. A common ingredient in most energy drinks is caffeine (often in the form of guarana or yerba mate). Caffeine is the stimulant that is found in coffee and tea. There is little or no evidence that any of the ingredients found in energy drinks other than caffeine or sugar have a significant physiological effect.[10]

Energy drinks contain about three times the amount of caffeine as cola.[11] Twelve ounces of Coca-Cola Classic contains 35 mg of caffeine, where as a Monster Energy Drink contains 120 mg of caffeine.[12]

Physiological and psychological effects[edit]

Energy drinks have the effects caffeine and sugar provide, but there is little or no evidence that the wide variety of other ingredients have any effect.[10] However, a variety of physiological and psychological effects have been attributed to energy drinks and their ingredients. Two studies reported significant improvements in mental and cognitive performances as well as increased subjective alertness.[13]

Excessive consumption of energy drinks may induce mild to moderate euphoria primarily caused by stimulant properties of caffeine and may also induce agitation, anxiety, irritability and insomnia.[14][15] During repeated cycling tests in young healthy adults an energy drink significantly increased upper body muscle endurance.[16] It has been suggested that reversal of caffeine withdrawal is a major component of the effects of caffeine on mood and performance.[17]

Restorative properties were shown by a combination of caffeine and the sugar glucose in an energy drink,[18] and some degree of synergy between the cognition-modulating effects of glucose and caffeine was also suggested.[19] In one experiment, a glucose-based energy drink (containing caffeine, taurine and glucuronolactone) was given to eleven tired participants being tested in a driving simulator. Lane drifting and reaction times were measured for two hours post-treatment and showed significant improvement.[20]

Two articles concluded that the improved information processing and other effects could not be explained in terms of the restoration of plasma caffeine levels to normal following caffeine withdrawal.[21][22]

Consumption of a single energy drink will not lead to excessive caffeine intake, but consumption of two or more drinks in a single day can.[23][24] Other stimulants such as ginseng are often added to energy drinks and may enhance the effects of caffeine,[25] and ingredients such as guarana themselves contain caffeine. Adverse effects associated with caffeine consumption in amounts greater than 400 mg include nervousness, irritability, sleeplessness, increased urination, abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmia), and dyspepsia. Consumption also has been known to cause pupil dilation when taken with certain antidepressants or SSRIs.[23][24]

Most mainstream energy drinks do not provide electrolytes, and have a higher likelihood of an energy "crash-and-burn" effect. Caffeine in energy drinks can cause the excretion of water from the body to dilute high concentrations of sugar entering the blood stream, leading to dehydration. If the body is dehydrated by 1%, performance is decreased by up to 10%.[26]

In the US, energy drinks have been linked with reports of nausea, abnormal heart rhythms and emergency room visits.[27] The drinks may cause seizures due to the "crash" following the energy high that occurs after consumption.[28] Caffeine dosage is not required to be on the product label for food in the United States, unlike drugs, but some advocates are urging the FDA to change this practice.[29]

Effects of caffeine[edit]

In November 2010, the University of Texas Medical School at Houston reported that energy drinks contain more caffeine than a strong cup of coffee,[30] and that the caffeine combined with other ingredients (sometimes not reported correctly on labels) such as guarana, taurine, other herbs, vitamins and minerals may interact. Caffeinated alcoholic beverages like energy drinks mixed with alcohol, may affect heart rates, blood pressure and even mental states. The caffeine content of energy drinks range from 80–300 mg per 16-oz serving whereas a 16-oz cup of coffee can contain 70–200 mg.[citation needed]

Health experts say caffeine prevents sleepiness and delays the feeling of drunkenness normally experienced when drinking alcohol, causing some people to continue drinking after they normally would have stopped.[31] Caffeine is a very mild diuretic in comparison with alcohol, but some experts believe that mixing energy drinks with alcohol can cause greater dehydration than alcohol alone.[32]



Market research firm Euromonitor calculated that the global energy drink market was worth US$3.8 billion in 1999 and this value grew to US$27.5 billion in 2013.[7]

United States[edit]

In 2000 the US energy drink market was worth US$350 million and data from the Packaged Facts company shows that the industry grew by 60 percent between 2008 and 2012 in the US—by 2012 total US sales were over US$12.5 Billion.[33] Red Bull and Monster were the two best-selling brands in 2012, accounting for nearly 80% of US energy drink sales, and the energy shot market is worth over US$1 billion in 2014.[7]


Globally, energy drinks are typically attractive to young people. Approximately 66 percent of consumers are between the ages of 13 and 35 years, with males being approximately 65 percent of the market.[34] A 2008 statewide Patient Poll conducted by the Pennsylvania Medical Society's Institute for Good Medicine found that: 20 percent of respondents aged between 21 and 30 had used energy drinks in high school or college to stay awake longer to study, or to write a paper; and 70 percent of respondents knew someone who had used an energy drink to stay awake longer to study or work.[35]

US research by Packaged Facts in 2012 showed that consumers aged between 18 and 34 years, men, Hispanics, Pacific region residents and adults with children in the household were the demographic groups that were using the highest amounts of energy drinks.[33]

Health concerns and sales restrictions[edit]

A health warning on a can of the Austrian Power Horse energy drink: "Consumption of more than two cans in a day may be harmful to your health. Not to be used for pregnant women, breast feeders, children under the age of 16, people with heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, allergy to caffeine, and athletes during exercise."

The energy drink Red Bull did not get market approval in France after the death of an 18-year-old Irish athlete, Ross Cooney, who died within hours after playing a basketball game and consuming four cans of the product. This market approval was challenged in the European Court of Justice in 2004, and consequently lifted.[36] Norway did not allow Red Bull for a time, although this restriction has recently been relaxed.[citation needed] The United Kingdom investigated the drink, but only issued a warning against its consumption by children and pregnant women.[36]

In 2009, Colombia , under the Ministry of Social Protection, prohibited the sale and commercialization of energy drinks to minors under the age of 14 under resolution 4150 of 2009.[37]

In November 2012, President Ramzan Kadyrov of Chechnya (Russian Federation) ordered his government to develop a bill banning the sale of energy drinks, arguing that as a form of "intoxicating drug", such drinks were "unacceptable in a Muslim society". Kadyrov cited reports of one death and 530 hospital admissions in 2012 due to "poisoning" from the consumption of such drinks. A similar view was expressed by Gennady Onishchenko, Chief Sanitary Inspector of Russia.[38]

In 2009, a school in Hove, England requested that local shops refrain from selling energy drinks to students. Headteacher Malvina Sanders added that "This was a preventative measure, as all research shows that consuming high-energy drinks can have a detrimental impact on the ability of young people to concentrate in class." The school negotiated for their local branch of the Tesco supermarket to display posters asking students not to purchase the products.[39] Similar measures were taken by a school in Oxted, England, which banned students from consuming drinks and sent letters to parents.

Some countries have certain restrictions on the sale and manufacture of energy drinks. In Australia and New Zealand, energy drinks are regulated under the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code; limiting the caffeine content of 'formulated caffeinated beverages' (energy drinks) at 320 mg/L (9.46 mg/oz) and soft-drinks at 145 mg/L (4.29 mg/oz). Mandatory caffeine labeling is issued for all food products containing guarana in the country,[40] and Australian energy drink labels warn consumers to drink no more than two cans per day.[41]

On June 7, 2012, the parliament of Latvia approved changes in the legislation of sale of consumable goods, to prohibit sale of energy drinks to persons under the age of 18.[42]


As of 2013 in the United States some energy drinks, including Monster Energy and Rockstar Energy, were reported to be rebranding their products as beverages rather than as dietary supplements. As beverages they would be relieved of F.D.A. reporting requirements with respect to deaths and injuries and can be purchased with food stamps, but must list ingredients on the can.[43]

On May, 2014 Lithuania became the first state in the world to explicitly ban selling energy drinks to minors below 18 years of age, effective November. An energy drink is described as any beverage containing at least 150mg/L of caffeine.


Energy Drinks Europe (EDE)[edit]

Energy Drinks Europe (EDE)[44] is an association in the area of energy drinks and founded in 2010. Their objective is to take leadership on all issues related to energy drinks and to create a public knowledge-base on energy drinks for everyone interested in this category. The EDE has established a clear and simple set of principles for a Code of Practice in relation to product composition, marketing and promotion of energy drinks. All EDE members have therefore committed to responsible marketing and promotion of energy drinks.


Energy shots[edit]

Energy shots are a specialized kind of energy drink. Whereas most energy drinks are sold in cans or bottles, energy shots are usually sold in smaller 50ml bottles. Energy shots can contain the same total amount of caffeine, vitamins or other functional ingredients as their larger versions, and may be considered concentrated forms of energy drinks. The marketing of energy shots generally focuses on their convenience and availability as a low-calorie "instant" energy drink that can be taken in one swallow (or "shot"), as opposed to energy drinks that encourage users to drink an entire can, which may contain 250 calories or more.[45]

Caffeinated alcoholic energy drinks[edit]

Energy drinks such as Red Bull are often used as mixers with alcoholic beverages, producing mixed drinks such as Vodka Red Bull which are similar to but stronger than rum and coke with respect to the amount of caffeine that they contain.[46] Sometimes this is configured as a bomb shot, such as the Jägerbomb or the F-BombFireball Cinnamon Whisky and Red Bull.[47] They are also sold in a wide variety of formulations such as Four Loko and Joose which combine caffeine and alcohol.[48][49][50]

Health impact and regulations[edit]

Through separate mechanisms, energy drinks act as stimulants, and alcohol as depressants. Mixing a depressant with a stimulant can cause cardiac problems such as heart arrhythmia.[citation needed] In addition, energy drinks can lessen some of the subjective effects of alcohol while making the drinker feel more stimulated and less fatigued.[46] However, they may be unable to counteract some of the psychomotor impairments of alcohol intoxication.[51][52]

Consequently, the mix can be particularly hazardous as energy drinks can mask the influence of alcohol and a person may misinterpret their actual level of intoxication.[46][53] In fact, people who drink mixers are more likely than non-mixers to drink more alcohol, and are also more likely to suffer alcohol-related consequences such as injury or being an intoxicated driver, even after adjusting for the number of drinks. Although people decide to drink energy drinks with alcohol with the intent of counteracting alcohol intoxication, another large majority do so to hide the taste of alcohol.[54] Researchers at the Human Performance Laboratory have suggested people refrain from mixing such powerful stimulants with alcohol, they believe it might cause cardiopulmonary or cardiovascular failures.[55]

As of November 10, 2010 caffeinated alcoholic energy drinks had been banned in Washington and Michigan in the United States.[56][57] The bans followed a widely publicized incident which resulted in hospitalization in the Fall of 2010 of college students who had consumed several cans of Four Loko caffeinated alcoholic beverage.[58] Utah, which has state controlled liquor retail outlets, after studying them, never permitted the sale of caffeinated alcoholic energy drinks.[59] The products will no longer be delivered to Oklahoma after December 3, 2010[60] and delivery to retailers has been suspended in New York.[61]

On November 17, 2010, the US Food and Drug Administration warned four companies, Charge Beverages Corp., New Century Brewing Co., Phusion Projects, and United Brands Company Inc, that the caffeine added to their malt alcoholic beverages is an "unsafe food additive" and said that further action, including seizure of their products, may occur under federal law.[62] In a press release, the FDA states "there is evidence that the combinations of caffeine and alcohol in these products pose a public health concern." They also state that concerns have been raised that caffeine can mask some of the sensory cues individuals might normally rely on to determine their level of intoxication. Warning letters were issued to each of the four companies requiring them to provide to the FDA in writing within 15 days of the specific steps the firms will be taking.

Manufacturers have argued that drinking a caffeinated alcoholic energy drink is indistinguishable from drinking a couple of glasses of wine followed by a couple of cups of coffee.[61]

Relaxation drinks[edit]

Several beverages have been marketed in the 2000s as "anti-energy", "chill out", or "relaxation" drinks, including Lava Cola, Slow Cow, Drank, Marley's Mellow Mood, Mary Jane's Relaxing Soda, Chill, Calm, Malava Kava, V.i.B., Relax by Rockstar and Jones Gaba.[63][64] They are growing in popularity, with sales doubling from 2008 to 2010, and expected to more than double again by 2014.[65] They contain ingredients such as theanine and melatonin.[66]

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]