Are 5-Hour Energy Drinks Bad For You?

With looming work deadlines, family demands, and personal fitness goals to achieve, who doesn't crave more energy? A lack of energy, paired with the feeling that there just aren't enough hours in the day, explains why so many of us are dependent on external energy sources to help us burn through our tasks at hand.

Coffee is likely the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of helpful energy aids, but energy shots are another widely popular option. According to Caffeine Informer, the entire energy shot market in 2020 totaled $977 million, and a whopping 89% of that market is dominated by one brand in particular — 5-hour Energy. With such a popular following, and a seat at the head of the energy shot table, we have to ask — are 5-hour Energy drinks bad for us? 

Consuming caffeine from multiple sources can have negative side effects

According to WebMD, 5-hour Energy shots are sugar-free, and contain only four calories. However, that small amount of liquid packs a caffeine-fueled punch containing 215 milligrams of caffeine per 2 fl. oz. bottle (via Consumer Reports). One bottle is not a mega amount of caffeine, but it can become worrisome when you combine it with other sources.

Jim White, R.D., a national spokesman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics shares his concerns via WebMD. "I'm seeing a lot of combinations — coffee, 5-Hour Energy, green teas — and if you add up all the mega doses of caffeine during the day, it can cause problems," he explained. Symptoms of a caffeine overdose can include dizziness, anxiety, and nausea. More serious effects can lead to seizures, brain hemorrhages, and heart attacks (via Forbes).

Here's who should stay away from 5-hour Energy

While some people may not experience any adverse reactions to caffeine, there are other ingredients in 5-hour Energy shots to be aware of. The 5-hour energy website recommends drinking no more than two bottles daily and that children, women who are pregnant, and individuals who have been diagnosed with phenylketonuria should not consume this beverage. The website also states the shot contains the ingredient phenylalanine. And while phenylalanine isn't a health concern for the mass public, it has been known to cause brain damage, seizures, and intellectual disabilities in people who have underlying health conditions or for those with phenylketonuria.

If you are a healthy adult and don't have a baby on board, it's likely that 5-hour Energy shots will not be harmful to your health if consumed in moderate amounts. But as Forbes states, caffeine is classified as a drug. So be sure to consult with your doctor before introducing these shots into your diet should you have any questions or concerns.