Is It Safe To Drink Energy Drinks On An Empty Stomach?

Caffeine is one of the most common stimulants in the world, according to the Mayo Clinic, with approximately 90% of adults consuming it daily. Energy drinks are a particularly popular source of caffeine, with global sales reaching close to $60 billion in 2020. The caffeine content of these drinks can range anywhere from 80 milligrams in an eight-ounce can of Red Bull to a whopping 200 milligrams in one 2-ounce Five-Hour Energy shot (via Healthline).

In addition to the high caffeine content, energy drinks tend to be made up of sugar, B vitamins, and amino acids like taurine and L-carnitine. This combination of ingredients is designed to boost your mental performance and energy level. A 2004 study published in Psychopharmacology showed improved attention and memory in energy drink users.

Given the high caffeine content of energy drinks, it can be tempting to consider swapping out your morning cup of coffee for a can of Red Bull. But flooding your system with just an energy drink may not be the wisest option — especially if you're skipping breakfast.

A sugar rush is not wise in the morning

Starting your day with an energy drink before eating anything is not recommended for a number of reasons, but sugar is chief among them (via Energy Drink Hub). According to Harvard School of Public Health, energy drinks contain about 41 grams of sugar, 2 grams more than a 12-ounce can of soda. Consuming sugar on an empty stomach will cause your blood sugar to spike, releasing insulin into your blood to transport glucose to your cells (via Healthfully). The sugar levels in your cells can remain high for up to two hours. Once the insulin has delivered the sugar from your blood to your cells, you may also experience low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, which can cause nervousness, anxiety, and sleeplessness.

Caffeine is another major energy drink ingredient and a motivator for people to reach for energy drinks to kick-start their morning. However, according to a 2017 study, caffeine's bitterness can cause the secretion of gastric acid. With no food in the stomach to absorb that acid, the stomach lining can become damaged.

Make smarter choices to start your day

Another strike against energy drinks in the morning is the risk of dehydration (via Healthline). A 2021 study published in Sports Health showed increased urination, dehydration, and kidney pain among energy drink users. This effect is probably due to the amount of caffeine present in energy drinks, since caffeine is a known diuretic

In short, energy drinks are not the optimal way to start off your day, especially when unaccompanied by a meal (via Energy Drink Hub). They don't provide the nutrients our bodies need and could be causing more lasting damage, according to Fairwinds Treatment Center. In order to get the maximum benefits of energy drinks, and avoid causing any harm, Energy Drink Hub suggests waiting to crack one open only after you've had your first meal of the day. In those cases, the food you've eaten will allow for a slower energy release that will last longer. Making healthy choices at the start of your day will help to set you up for success as it progresses.