With similar designs, flavors and marketing campaigns, it’s easier than ever to confuse energy drinks with sports drinks. It’s even harder to differentiate as many popular sports drink brands offer energizing options.
Analyzing Sports And Energy Drinks
The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) classification system doesn’t list distinct differences between the two types of beverages, and it’s understandable. They have a similar taste and texture while promising to boost your energy to complete your activities while feeling strong. Companies also market them to the same demographic — active teenagers and young adults.
An important note — This post generally discusses beverages intended for sports and energy purposes. Since there is no legal classification for sports and energy drinks, the intention, ingredients and potential harms of drinks on the market may vary.
Any company can call a drink a “sports” or “energy” drink regardless of ingredients. Reading labels, researching the formulas and speaking with professionals can ensure you choose the right beverages for your body.
Differences Between Sports Drinks And Energy Drinks
There are three general differences that are important to understand and discuss.
Energy and sports drinks do have different intentions that can benefit you in different ways.
Sports drinks are for athletes and those who spend time in the sun sweating. They’re formulated with water, glucose, electrolytes and B vitamins to replenish what your body uses in sweat and provide natural energy. For heavy activity, water helps quench your thirst but may not have all your body needs to feel its best. That’s why sports drinks exist.
Energy drinks aren’t designed for athletes but for the everyday person on the go. College students who stay up late studying for exams, office workers who face a mid-day slump and people facing long travel days may see a benefit by consuming these drinks. Often with more caffeine than coffee, the drinks block fatigue to get people through important events.
Though companies market both types of drinks to the same demographic, the ways they’re marketed often vary.
Sports drinks are normally marketed to athletes and people interested in beginning their fitness journey. They’re meant to motivate you to get moving and emphasize their hydrating abilities. Often, celebrity athletes contribute to these marketing campaigns.
Energy drinks often show someone who’s falling asleep at their desk or feeling tired before taking on a fun or important task. Energy drinks often make their marketing campaigns edgier than sports drinks, making them feel a little naughty or dangerous to consume – appealing to younger audiences.
If you’ve ever seen advertisements for a sports drink, you’ll notice how they tend to highlight what the beverage can do for the consumer. Energy drink ads often do the opposite — they emphasize what the consumer can do with the beverage.
Both drinks can be dangerous if the drinker consumes too much or has certain health conditions. That said, there’s been growing concern surrounding energy drinks in particular.
A lack of sleep and overall fatigue can do a number on the body, but the consequences of drinking energy drinks could be much more detrimental. Carefully consider if consuming an energy drink is right for you before cracking open the can, and prioritize healthier ways of sustaining your energy.
Energy Drinks And Caffeine
Energy drinks have different caffeine levels. Consider this example — a can of Monster Energy sits at 160 milligrams of caffeine in each can, while a can of Bang Energy can have 300. That’s almost double the amount!
Most adults can have around 400 milligrams of caffeine daily without much issue, but drinking more than one energy drink a day can easily push you over that limit. And any amount of caffeine can cause side effects — especially if the drinker has an existing health condition.
Some caffeine side effects are shaking, anxiety, restlessness, insomnia and an increased heart rate.
What’s even more worrisome is how often children and teens indulge in these beverages without understanding the potential health impacts. Younger individuals are more likely to feel caffeine’s negative side effects — and they often consume the drinks without understanding the risks involved.
Caffeine can raise a child’s blood pressure, cause inattention and hyperactivity and lead to poor sleep. It’s also easier for kids to overdose on caffeine, which can lead to seizures or death.
Sports Drinks And Sugar
There is concern that some sports drinks may add illegal compounds meant to boost performance. Certifications programs now analyze the beverages to ensure that the only ingredients in the drink are what the company lists.
Sports drinks are often best for endurance athletes who can use the sugar and electrolytes during their activity. The largest danger of these drinks is typically the amount of sugar. High levels of sugar in the drinks — especially for people with low activity levels — increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and gout.
Choosing The Right Beverages For You
What you put in your body matters so it’s important to know the risk and benefits of sports and energy drinks before consuming them. By understanding the differences, you can choose the right beverage for you.