Sometimes, an energy drink seems the perfect remedy for a draggy day. Heck, with all the caffeine and sugar, how could it not jolt your brain?
And just how much is all that? A new Consumer Reports investigation takes a look. And some of its findings might jolt your brain, as well.
Of the 27 different products CR tested, only 16 even specified the amount of caffeine per serving. Of those that did, about 1/3 contained an average 20% more caffeine than indicated.
Eleven of the 27 drinks don’t specify the amount of caffeine. Why the secrecy? Their blends may be proprietary. (Common blends include amino acids, carbohydrates, or guarana, a botanical caffeine source.) A representative of the Monster Beverage Corporation provided another reason: The company doesn’t list levels “because there is no legal or commercial business requirement to do so, and also because our products are completely safe, and the actual numbers are not meaningful to most consumers.” Yet labels on both tested Monster drinks—like those of 16 other products—warn against use by children, pregnant or nursing women, and people sensitive to caffeine. The Monster drinks and eight others also recommend a daily limit.
In general, says CR, healthy adults can safely consume up to 400 milligrams of caffeine daily, and pregnant women, up to 200. Children, however, should have no more than 45 to 85, depending on weight. A regular size cup of coffee contains about 110.
So how do these drinks stack up?
If you judge by serving size, over half are equivalent to a cup of coffee or less. But, as is the case with a lot of junk food, many are sold in larger containers that are often drunk as a single serving. For instance, a serving size of Full Throttle is 8 ounces and contains 210 milligrams of caffeine and an unbelievable 58 grams of sugar. However, it’s sold in 16 ounce cans. Drink the whole thing, and you get the caffeine equivalent of nearly four cups of coffee. And the sugar? Here’s 1000 words:
You’ll find the full list of products and test results here.