Managing Wellness

Energy Drinks: Are They Healthy?

  • Energy drinks can be a pick-me-up for employees feeling sluggish
  • Energy drinks may contain very high amounts of caffeine and added sugar
  • Consider offering lower-calorie, healthier options for employees
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Posted by August 5, 2017

Energy drinks may not be as healthy for you as you think. While sports and other sugar-sweetened beverages can come in handy for an energy boost in certain circumstances, pros and cons exist when choosing such drinks. It’s important to know whether or not sports drinks are a good option to keep on-site for employees, or if alternatives can help improve employee health and wellness.


Many sports drinks contain high levels of vitamins, sugar and caffeine. So for employees struggling to stay awake at work, these drinks could be the pick-me-up they need to stay alert and get through the day. Such beverages are convenient for employees on the go, or those who don’t have time to leave their desks. For workers who regularly exercise longer than 60 minutes, sports drinks can help boost endurance (up to 20 percent when working out more than 90 minutes), says the American College of Sports Medicine.

Potential Cons

Many energy drinks are simply sugar and water, and some contain alarmingly high amounts of caffeine. Getting too much added sugar in your diet from these drinks may lead to unwanted weight gain, which can contribute to obesity and other chronic diseases—and problems with your teeth (including a higher risk for cavities). A 20-ounce bottle of original Gatorade contains 34 grams of added sugar. And, some energy drinks consist of herbs or other ingredients that interact with certain medications. Caffeine itself (when consumed in excess) may interact with medicines—and too much caffeine can cause migraine headaches, irritability, restlessness and insomnia. These beverages can also take a toll on your wallet.

How Much Caffeine Is Safe?

Mayo Clinic suggests that 400 milligrams of caffeine daily seems to be safe for most healthy adults, but kids should avoid caffeine and teens should limit it. Four hundred milligrams of caffeine equals about four cups of brewed coffee or two energy shot drinks. But, a 24-ounce energy drink might contain as much as 500 milligrams of caffeine, says the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. So use caution when consuming such beverages.

Nutritious Alternatives

Unless employees complete endurance exercises (jogging, biking, swimming, etc.) lasting longer than 60 minutes, water and other low-calorie alternatives instead of sugary energy drinks are usually best—especially for employees trying to shed pounds. Instead, encourage workers to opt for coffee, green tea, water flavored with fruit chunks, water mixed with lemon or lime juice (or other fruit juices) or low-calorie flavored drinks (like G2 that provides electrolytes and flavor without the extra sugar) instead of regular sports drinks.

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