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Energy Drinks VS Alcohol (Which is Healthier?)

Different energy drinks
Energy Drinks VS. Alcohol

Energy drinks are caffeinated drinks designed to boost your energy levels making you feel more focused and alert. On the other hand, alcoholic beverages are a source of intoxication and generate a pleasant, out-of-body feeling that usually helps people escape stress or anxiety.

A common practice among youth is to mix energy drinks with alcohol.

Even though the initial feeling of consuming a drink containing both caffeine and alcohol might be exhilarating but the harmful effects it can cause to your health and other people are countless.

In this article, we will discuss how these drinks affect your body individually and what happens if you mix them.

So let’s get started.

What Are Energy Drinks?

Energy drinks are a mix of various energy-inducing ingredients, one of the main ingredients being caffeine.

The idea is to provide an instant solution to your energy requirements. The formula of energy drinks contains such ingredients that stimulate brain function making you more alert and concentrated.

For people indulged in intense physical activities, energy drinks enable them to work for longer hours by enhancing their muscle strength and delaying exhaustion.

Energy drinks are available in many forms including sugar-free, vegan, and gluten-free.

What makes energy drinks so popular is that it is an affordable energy source that you can benefit from anywhere, any time of the day.

What Is Alcohol?

Alcohol in plastic cups

Alcoholic beverages contain ethanol, manufactured by the yeast fermentation of sugar available in different fruits, vegetables, and grains.

It can act both as a stimulant and depressant depending upon the dosage.

If consumed in small amounts, alcohol tends to make you feel hyperactive and euphoric. This usually makes people more talkative and social. At higher doses, alcohol hinders your ability to think clearly. It makes you feel disconnected from your body leading you to act impulsively and relentlessly.

Alcohol is called a depressant because it impacts the brain in a way that reduces mental sharpness, increases reaction time, and hinders brain coordination.

The after-effects of alcohol consumption include headache, nausea, vomiting, and impaired memory.

Main Ingredients Of Energy Drinks

Energy drinks are a mix of energy-boosting ingredients. While the formula of each brand of energy drink may vary depending on their target consumers, the basic ingredients remain the same.

The key ingredients in energy drinks may vary in quantity depending upon the intensity of energy boost a drink aims to provide.

One of the main ingredients in energy drinks is caffeine which is supported by some other energy-boosting ingredients like taurine, ginseng, and guarana, to maximize the effects of the drinks.

Sugar is another important constituent of the drink but there are sugar-free drinks in the market that use artificial sweeteners instead.

Let’s look into the basic ingredients of an energy drink;


Caffeine is a natural stimulant that activates brain function and enhances physical strength.

Caffeine naturally occurs in coffee, cocoa beans, and green tea. The energy-inducing properties of caffeine make it very popular among the masses.

Caffeine has also been related to better metabolism and fat burning. A shot of caffeine in the morning can improve your mood and focus.

Even though it sounds like caffeine is all good, overconsumption of caffeine can lead to various health risks.

Some of these include

Therefore FDA suggests a maximum daily consumption of 400mg of caffeine. I think up to 120mg of caffeine is enough to keep you active all day.

Take a look at this video to see the side effects of too much coffee:


Sugar is used in energy drinks as a source of flavor and energy boost.

Sugar increases the insulin levels in the blood that increase energy production. But consumption of high amounts of added sugar due to energy drinks has been under scrutiny over the years and therefore brands have come up with sugar-free energy drinks.

The sugar-free version contains artificial sweeteners to provide the flavor while contributing to zero calories and no increase in blood sugar levels.


Taurine is an amino acid naturally found in meat, fish, and dairy products.

Taurine is used in energy drinks as an energy-boosting ingredient. Some of the main benefits of taurine include

  • Improved athletic performance
  • Better brain activity
  • Improves metabolism
  • Has antioxidant properties

Guarana Seed Extract

Guarana is a Brazilian plant that has benefited our health in several ways

Guarana contains caffeine and therefore acts as an energy booster. It improves focus and physical stamina helping you to stay energetic for longer hours.

Apart from this, guarana is rich in antioxidants, protecting you against cell damage and minimizing the impact of oxidative stress.

It is also known to improve heart health and enhance weight loss.

Ginseng Root Extract

Ginseng has been used for medicinal purposes for many years due to the wide range of benefits it provides.

Ginseng is a rich source of antioxidants and helps reduce inflammation. Studies show that ginseng also improves brain function and enhances memory. It generates a feeling of calmness and helps you relax.

Moreover, ginseng strengthens the immune system and fights fatigue helping you to perform better physically.

Main Ingredients Of Alcoholic Drinks

Alcoholic drinks are made by a process called fermentation. Yeast or bacteria reacts with carbohydrates in different fruits, vegetables, and cereals to produce ethanol and carbon dioxide.

The kind of food used for fermentation depends upon the type of alcoholic beverage you are aiming to manufacture.

The basic ingredients of an alcoholic drink are water, sugar, and ethanol. In sweetened beverages, the amount of sugar is more than ethanol.

This table shows the alcohol content by volume (ABV) of different alcoholic beverages

Fortified Wine 16-24%
Unfortified Wine14-16%
Malt Beverage 15%
Alcohol By Volume In Various Drinks

Side Effects Of Energy Drinks

Red Bull

Energy drinks are made to enhance your mental and physical strength making you more alert and concentrated.

The energy levels of your body rise due to the energy-inducing ingredients of the energy drink. One of the main energy-boosting ingredients is caffeine.

Caffeine absorbs into the bloodstream after about 10 minutes of consumption and blocks the chemical in the brain that generates the feeling of tiredness called adenosine receptors.

Energy drinks fulfill your energy requirement without causing any side effects as long as they are consumed in moderation.

Overconsumption of energy drinks leads to an overdose of caffeine in the body. This leads to

  • Severe headache
  • Nausea
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Jitters
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia

If you are consuming energy drinks containing sugar then this can lead to sugar overconsumption. Side effects related to sugar consumption are

  • Weight gain
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Riske of type 2 diabetes
  • Risk of heart and kidney diseases

The bottom line is that these side effects will only occur if you drink energy drinks irresponsibly. The key here is to keep track of your daily caffeine and sugar consumption.

Side Effects Of Alcoholic Drinks

Alcohol tends to impact the central nervous system leading to slow transfer of signals between your brain and your body. This hinders your ability to think or process clearly.

Drinking alcohol has both short-term and long-term side effects. The short effects are due to the intoxication caused by alcohol. These include a sense of euphoria, impulsive behavior, slurred speech, and a feeling of relaxation.

Too much alcohol at once leads to drowsiness and loss of consciousness. When the alcohol wears out of the system, you are likely to experience severe headaches, vomiting, nausea, and dehydration.

Long term impact of drinking too much alcohol leads to

  • Variation in appetite and weight
  • Inability to focus
  • Anxiety ad irritability
  • Weakened immune system

Since alcohol directly impacts the brain, heavy drinking can also lead to permeant brain damage.

Which Is Worse Energy Drinks Or Alcohol?

Both drinks can affect your health negatively if they are consumed excessively.

If you need a boost of energy then energy drinks are the right choice for you. Usually, energy drinks have a label informing you about the maximum daily intake of the drink. Make sure your consumption is within those guidelines.

For alcoholic beverages, the guidelines according to the CDC is one or fewer drinks for women and two or fewer drinks for men per day.

To maintain good health, whichever drink you choose to consume, make sure you consume it occasionally.

Alcohol poured into a glass

How Long After An Energy Drink Can You Drink Alcohol?

Since energy drinks contain caffeine, drinking alcohol while caffeine is still in your body can mask the effects of alcohol on the body. This can make you feel less drunk than you are, leading you to drink more.

For 100mg of caffeine, it takes about 5 hours for it to get out of the system. This also depends upon how sensitive your body is to caffeine. So if you are drinking alcohol after 5 hours of consuming 100mg of caffeine, you would experience the complete effects of alcohol.

It is best to drink alcohol when most of the caffeine has been utilized by the body so both the ingredients do not react with the body at the same time.

Can You Drink Energy Drinks Every Day?

You can drink energy drinks every day but you need to be mindful about your daily caffeine and sugar consumption.

Drinking energy drinks occasionally is always the safer option in terms of the wellness of your body.

But if your lifestyle requires an energy boost through an external source daily then switching to a sugar-free drink with low caffeine content is a better idea.

This way you can get your required boost of energy without harming your health in any way.

Can You Drink Alcohol Every Day?

Yes, you can drink alcohol every day but the key is moderation.

According to the guidelines of the centers for disease control and prevention (CDC), moderate drinking means

  • 1 or fewer drinks per day for women
  • 2 or fewer drinks per day for men

Exceeding this limit will lead to the unpleasant consequences mentioned above. Overconsumption of alcohol can also lead to permanent brain damage.

Is It Safe To Mix Energy Drinks And Alcohol?

No, it is not safe to mix energy drinks with alcohol.

Caffeine is a stimulant and alcohol acts as a depressant. If both are consumed together caffeine will enhance brain activity masking the feeling of intoxication caused by alcohol making you feel awake and aware. This will make you feel less drunk than you actually are.

Red Bull

Caffeine does not reduce the alcohol levels in the blood it simply reduces its effects on the brain. This way you are likely to drink more without realizing how much your mind and coordination have been impacted by it in reality.

This can lead to alcohol poisoning, alcohol, and caffeine overconsumption, and the risk of harming yourself or others while drunk.

Bottom Line

Energy drinks are designed to give you an energy boost because of their energy-inducing ingredients while alcoholic beverages make you feel calm and euphoric.

Both these drinks are dangerous for health if they are consumed irresponsibly.

Overconsumption of energy drinks can lead to caffeine and sugar consumption causing weight gain, elevated blood pressure, and risk of insomnia.

Overconsumption of alcohol can lead to loss of appetite, variation in weight, risk of liver disease, and permeant brain damage.