The Real Science behind Energy Drinks

Last Updated: 17 Mar 2023
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1. When we say that something gives us "energy”, what does that mean? What is a biological definition of energy? When we say that something gives us “energy” it means we can get sugars or carbohydrates and lipids from that. Humans need to eat carbohydrates and lipids to provide fuel for our body’s metabolism. Human body must have these chemicals in order to function and different food sources provide different types of energy. The biological definition of energy is the element that is stored by cells in biomolecules (carbohydrates and lipids). The energy is released when there molecules are oxidized during cellular respiration and transported by an energy carrier called ATP.

2. For each ingredient, research and record the following information: a. What it is (very brief description: 1-2 sentences)
b. What it does (very brief description of its physiological role in the body: 1-2 sentences) Red Bull®

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Ingredients: carbonated water, sucrose, glucose, citric acid, taurine, sodium citrate, magnesium carbonate, caffeine, glucuronolactone, inositol, niacinamide, calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine HCl, vitamin B12, natural and artificial flavors, colors.

Carbonated water

What it is: Carbonated water is the primary ingredient of carbonated soft drinks. Carbonated water is created (or exists naturally) by dissolving carbon dioxide gas (CO2) in water. What it does: Carbonated water can hinder the absorption of calcium. Carbonated water also decreases satiety and improves dyspepsia, constipation and gallbladder emptying.


What it is: simple sugar
What it does: Can be converted into a form for entry into the primary metabolic pathway in which the chemical energy of its bonds is converted
into ATP.


What it is: Glucose is a carbohydrate, and is the most important simple sugar in human metabolism. Glucose is one of the primary molecules which act as energy sources for plants and animals. What it does: When oxidized in the body in the process called cellular respiration, glucose provides energy which can be used by the cells.

Citric Acid

What it is: Citric acid is an organic acid that is found in many fruits. Citric acid is a common food additive and is found in everything from sodas to candies. Whao it does: Citric acid plays a key role in Kerbs Cycle and when you exercise your muscles, this causes your body to consume ATP. Citric acid helps to boost ATP production, which lessens fatigue.


What it is: Taurine is an amino acid that is a required building block of protein. Taurine is naturally occurring in the human body and present in the daily diet. It is involved in a wide range of biological processes. What it does: It helps regulate heartbeat, muscle contractions, and energy levels. Usually your body makes enough that you don’t need to supplement.

Sodium Citrate

What it is: Sodium citrate is used to make the urine less acidic. Sodium citrate is used to treat a condition called metabolic acidosis. Whit it does: In metabolic acidosis, the acidity of the blood, urine and other bodily fluids becomes too high; it occurs when the kidney is excreting too little acid, or the body is producing too much acid.

Magnesium Carbonate

What it is: Magnesium carbonate is an inorganic salt that is a white solid. Several hydrated and basic forms of magnesium carbonate also exist as minerals. What it does: Its active ingredient is magnesium, a mineral that your body requires to function efficiently.


What it is: Caffeine is a natural ingredient found in the leaves, seeds or fruit of a number of plants. What it does: Caffeine is known for its stimulating effects on the human body by ancient civilisations who consumed it from natural sources like tea, coffee, cacao beans & cola nuts. [] Caffeine is also a stimulant of the central nervous system, the cardiac muscle, and respiratory system.


What it is: Simple sugar
What it does: It is a normal human metabolic product formed from glucose. Also regulates formation of glycogen. It is a substance that results from the metabolism of glucose in the human liver. It can boost ATP, lessen sleepiness and increase alertness and reaction time.


What it is: A sugar that is a member of the Vitamin B complex What it does: Controls cholesterol levels and has potential antioxidant capabilities.


What it is: Niacin and niacinamide are forms of Vitamin B3. Nicotinamide is a water-soluble vitamin and is part of the vitamin B group. What it does: A component of the coenzymes NAD and NADP, important in the redox reactions of metabolism.

Calcium Pantothenate

What it is: Calcium pantothenate is a water-soluble vitamin found in most foods. It is naturally produced in the body by bacteria in the intestines. What it does: Calcium pantothenate is essential for the body’s production of hormones, energy production, fat storage, and many other bodily processes.

Pyridoxine HCl

What it is: Synthetic form of Vitamin B-6
What it does: Energy production, the B-compound vitamins are probably the single most important set of factors needed for proper maintenance of the nervous system as well as proper functioning of the cell and its energy metabolism. Pyridoxine HCl also acts as a coenzyme in the metabolism of protein, carbohydrate, and fat.

Vitamin B12

What it is: Vitamin B12 is a unique vitamin. Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in some foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement and a prescription medication. What it does: Vitamin B12 is required for proper red blood cell formation, neurological function, and DNA synthesis.

Natural flavors

What it is: Natural flavor is the natural sensory impression of a food or other substance. It is determined mainly by the chemical senses of taste and smell. What it does: It gives each substance a unique taste.

Artificial flavors

What it is: Artificial flavors are simply chemical mixtures that mimic a natural flavor in some way. What it does: It gives a food some unnaturally occurred taste. Some artificial flavoring is known to cause genetic defects, tumors, bladder cancer, and many other types of cancers.

Natural colors

What it is: The natural colors of a food or a substance.
What it does: we can see the color when light reflects on a food or a substance.

Artificial colors

What it is: Food coloring, or color additive, is any dye, pigment or substance that imparts color when it is added to food or drink. They come in many forms consisting of liquids, powders, gels and pastes. What it does: They give a food or a substance some unnaturally occurred colors.

3. Name the ingredients that provide energy. Briefly explain (1-2 sentences) how each molecule provides that energy (hint: reflect on the various stages of cellular respiration).

Glucose: Once the glucose has entered the cell, the cell works to burn the glucose to create energy. This is done through cellular respiration. During this process, oxygen is pulled from the blood and into the cell with the glucose. The mitochondria uses the oxygen to burn the glucose into heat and ATP. ATP is then used to store or release the energy created.

Sucrose: Sucrose can’t provide any energy until it’s metabolized into glucose. When it is metabolized into glucose, it is oxidized during cellular respiration and provides energy.

Citric Acid: Citric acid plays a key role in citric acid cycle (kerbs cycle). The cycle consumes acetyl-CoA and water, then transfer energy from organic molecules into usable forms for the cell, such as ATP, NADH and FADH2, while at the same time removing CO2 as a waste product.

Niacinamide: The active form of niacinamide in the body is NAD and this is a very important intermediate in energy production. Essentially, it links the two major biochemical pathways of Krebs cycle with oxidative phosphorylation in order that the body can make our essential energy molecule ATP.

4. Name the ingredients that contribute to body repair (e.g., which help build or rebuild muscle tissue)? Briefly explain (1-2 sentences) how each molecule is involved with repairing tissue.

Taurine: Taurine is an amino acid that is a required building block of protein, and protein is a muscle building block which means taurine can build muscle tissue.

Pyridoxine HCl: Vitamin B6 supplementation, in conjunction with folic acid and vitamin B12, can lower homocysteine levels. By inhibiting the production of oxalate. Since it is in conjunction with folic acid, it is for protein repairs because it helps with DNA synthesis which makes protein.

Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 is required for proper red blood cell formation, neurological function, and DNA synthesis. Since it helps with DNA synthesis, which means it is for protein repairs because DNA synthesis makes protein.

5. In what ways might the ingredient(s) that does (do) not have a metabolic energy source provide the perception of increased energy after consumption? Refer specifically to your ingredients list. Glucuronolactone is the ingredient that does not have a metabolic energy source but can provide the perception of increased energy after consumption. Glucuronolctone naturally occurs in the connective tissue. It is a normal human metabolic product formed from glucose. It also regulates formation of glycogen. It is a substance that results from the metabolism of glucose in the human liver. It can boost ATP, lessen sleepiness and increase alertness and reaction time.

6. How are the ingredients specified in part (5) helpful to someone expending a lot of energy, e.g., a runner? Glucuronolactone may be useful in physical performance. When used in a pre workout supplement, glucuronolactone in combination with the aforementioned ingredients resulted in an increase in total repetitions performed. Glucuronolactone has been shown to inhibit the synthesis of toxic by-products of intensive exercise as well as other negative effects causing fatigue.

7. Could your drink serve different purposes for different consumers? Explain. Yes, Red Bull does serve different purposes for different consumers. There are many different ingredients in Red Bull and they each have a different purpose. Sucrose and glucose are simple sugars, they are necessary for human body. They can be converted into ATP and provide energy. Taurine is used to regulate heartbeat, muscle contractions, and energy levels. Caffeine can stimulate central nervous system, the cardiac muscle, and respiratory system. It may also improve memory and reasoning responses, other studies have shown that ingesting 3-9mg of caffeine one hour before physical activity improves endurance running and cycling in athletes.

Another ingredient that can serve different purpose is glucuronolactone, it can boost ATP, lessen sleepiness and increase alertness and reaction time.

8. Does your analysis substantiate the claim that this is an “energy drink”? Explain No, my analysis does substantiate the claim that Red Bull is an energy drink. Red Bull has a large extra amount of sugar which does not really provide energy for your body. This is like a “sugar crash” and it’s not energy, you can crash very quickly. It also has other stimulants as well which can stimulate your nervous system, respiratory system, lessen sleepiness and increase reaction time, as well as caffeine which can give you a clearer mind. A small amount of caffeine is beneficial, but, a large amount of this can only wake you up for a very short period of time, and you can even feel more tired afterwards. And it can also cause your body to dehydrate.

9. Is the product claim for your drink legitimate?

The product claim does not legitimate. Red Bull is not an energy drink, it only has a large amount of caffeine and sugar, and that caffeine and sugar will not give you energy. It does somehow vitalize your body and mind, but it’s only in a short period of time, and you can even end up with being more sluggish. It is also not recommended to be drunk at sport because you can get cramps or even heart attack because the large amount of caffeine and sugar.

10. Evaluate, in terms of basic physiology and biochemistry, the following statement: "A lack of sleep causes a lack of energy". Not getting enough sleep made healthy people's bodies resistant to insulin. In a healthy body, when you take in sugar, insulin is released from the pancreas and travels throughout the body, it signals cells that they should absorb some of that new glucose. But when the body becomes insulin-resistant, cells are less responsive to that signal, and glucose levels rise in the bloodstream, which leads to lack of energy.

11. Is there such a thing as a “sugar high”? Explain

No, there is no such a thing as a “sugar high”. Sugar high is used to describe the energetic behavior experienced after eating sugary foods. But, in reality, sugar does not cause hyperactivity. When the carbohydrates and starches are consumed, they are easily broken down into glucose. And when glucose is present in the body, the pancreas releases insulin, the hormone responsible for causing the cells of the body to absorb sugar from the bloodstream.

Through this absorption, tryptophan is converted into serotonin. It’s only in severe cases when the bloodstream is completely overloaded with glucose that insulin works too quickly and results in a sugar low, a condition known as hypoglycemia. So, levels after any carb-load remain relatively unchanged unless you really go wild and put yourself in a sugar low.

12. Should you simply buy a can of Coke rather than one of these energy drinks? Explain. Neither soda nor energy drinks are healthy because they tend to be high in caffeine, which means you should not simply just buy a can of Coke rather then one of these energy drinks. But a can of Coke can be somehow better than an energy drink because energy drinks normally contain much more other ingredients then coke. Both coke and energy contain caffeine and sugars, but the amount of caffeine in an energy drink is much higher than the amount of caffeine in a can of coke.

Energy drinks contain some vitamins as well, they might give you some benefits but if you consume too much of these vitamins you may experience toxicity symptoms. Also, energy drinks usually contain many other ingredients such as artificial stimulants and they definitely do not give you any benefits at all.

13. Honey Boo Boo has made headlines for consuming her "Go-Go Drink", a concoction of Mountain Dew and Red Bull. Is this an appropriate drink for a seven year old? Recent political unrest has been calling for legislation to prohibit parents and caregivers from giving young children inappropriate food/drink choices. Do you feel this legislation should be put into effect? Your answer should be focusing on the social, political, economic and/or environmental perspectives. Show critical thought and insight in your answer. First of all, this is definitely not an appropriate drink for a seven year old. Energy drinks all contain a large amount of caffeine and sugars. They also have many other artificial ingredients, stimulants and vitamins.

Caffeine has a lot of bad effect on kids or even adults. It changes how attentive you are, and can really cause trouble in terms of sleep, the more caffeine you consumed, the less sleep you got. Caffeine is absorbed in every body tissue. It increases your heart rate blood pressure. It can also change your body temperature and your gastric juices. Caffeine is a stimulant, adolescents gain half of their adult weight in their teenage years. If caffeine curbs their appetite in some way it could affect their growth. Consuming large amount of sugar can cause you “over-loaded”, it can affect your metabolism and make you crash very quickly.

Also, appropriate amount of vitamin would be beneficial, but a large amount of vitamin will be too much for your body to completely absorb. And, generally, anything that’s artificial would not be good for your body because they are not meant to put into your body. In my opinion, the legislation to prohibit parents and caregivers from giving young children inappropriate food/drink choice should not be put into effect. Energy drinks are definitely not good for anyone, but everyone has their own choice to choose. The parents have the right to decide if they want their children to consume or not. Energy drinks sometimes can have bad effects, but it doesn’t mean they will destroy your body system, they are actually good in some ways.

They can wake you up very quickly in an emergency and they can keep you active for a short period of time if necessary. If they are considered as the worst drinks on the earth that would ruin your body system or metabolism, they should already been inhibited. If this legislation is put into effect, many people would start to think that those energy drinks have no benefit to human at any time, the society will be panic about energy drinks. And, if it is put into effect, there could be another political unrest that doesn’t want this legislation. If the government just simply legislate that inappropriate food/drinks are inhibited for children, it will cause even more problems. In a economic way to look at this problem, if those food and drinks are inhibited, it will cause a big problem for the companies, the companies may even shut down and it will have a huge effect on the economy.

But, think in the environment perspective, inhibiting inappropriate food/drinks would be beneficial for the environment because many ingredients are artificial which make so many wastes, and by inhibiting those food and drinks will actually reduce the pollution. Finally, Honey Boo Boo should not be drinking a concoction of Mountain Dew and Red Bull because the large amount caffeine, sugar, artificial ingredients and some stimulants. It is definitely not good for a child. But, in my opinion, a small amount of caffeine or appropriate amount caffeine would not have bad effects on a kid, so the parents should be responsible and control how much caffeine or sugar their kids consume everyday.

Related Questions

on The Real Science behind Energy Drinks

What Ingredients Contribute To Body Repair?
Protein is the main nutrient that contributes to body repair, as it provides the essential amino acids needed to build and repair tissues. Other important nutrients for body repair include vitamin C, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids.
What Molecules Are The Sources Of Energy In Energy Drinks?
Energy drinks typically contain caffeine, taurine, and sugar, which are the molecules that provide the energy boost. These molecules stimulate the central nervous system and provide a quick burst of energy.
What Does It Mean When Something Gives Us Energy ?
When something gives us energy, it means that it boosts our motivation and enthusiasm, providing us with the drive to accomplish tasks and pursue our goals. This can be physical energy from exercise or mental energy from engaging in activities that bring us joy and fulfillment.
When We Say Something Gives Us Energy What Does That Mean ?
When we say something gives us energy, it means that it motivates and inspires us, leading to increased physical or mental activity. It can also refer to the feeling of vitality and enthusiasm that comes from engaging in activities that we enjoy or find meaningful.

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The Real Science behind Energy Drinks. (2016, Aug 08). Retrieved from

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