Forget energy drinks – they're no more effective than a cup of coffee
'Overwhelming lack of evidence' that ingredients such as guarana enhance physical or cognitive
performanceNew research suggests only useful ingredient is a generous dose of caffeine
16:13 GMT, 14 December 2012
New research suggests it is simply caffeine, rather than added ingredients such as guarana or taurine, that make energy drinks effective
With buzz-word ingredients such as guarana and ginseng, energy drinks have been heralded for their mind and body-boosting qualities.
But according to new research, the only useful ingredient in beverages such as Redbull is caffeine.
The study, published in the Nutrition Reviews journal, found that while energy drinks often contain ingredients such as taurine, guarana and ginseng, there is an ‘overwhelming lack of evidence to substantiate claims that these ingredients boost performance’.
It has been suggested that these drinks enhance physical and cognitive performance.
But the new research casts doubt over this, suggesting the main benefit is probably down to a generous dose of caffeine.
Energy drinks often contain taurine, guarana, ginseng, glucuronolactone, B-vitamins, and other compounds.
The researchers went through dozens of articles that examined the effects of energy ingredients alone and/or in combination with caffeine.
With the exception of some weak evidence for glucose and guarana extract, there was little evidence substantiating claims that components of energy drinks, other than caffeine, contribute to the enhancement of physical or cognitive performance.
Earlier this year, a study found that energy drinks have up to 14 times more caffeine than other soft drinks.
Furthermore, doctors warned that
children given energy drinks could pile on the pounds because they are
not active enough to burn off the extra calories.
Research published earlier this year warned children should never be given energy drinks, only fruit juice, milk and water
They say energy drinks – which contain between 10 and 270 calories a serving – should never be given to children.
Instead they should be offered water to quench their thirst, and drink the recommended daily amount of fruit juice and low-fat milk with meals.
A hidden problem with energy drinks is caffeine, which can reach toxic levels up to 14 times greater than in other soft drinks. The stimulant has been linked to seizures, diabetes, heart problems and behavioural disorders.
Children’s doctors renewed warnings about energy drinks, and the potential harm from sports drinks, following an expert report by members of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Nutrition.
Dr Holly Benjamin, a lead author of the report, and a doctor at the Comer Children’s Hospital, part of the University of Chicago, said: ‘For most children engaging in routine physical activity, plain water is best.’
MailOnline has approached Red Bull for comment.