Energy drinks no more powerful than caffeine, study suggests

DOVER, DE - JUNE 01:  Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Hertz Ford, celebrates with the trophy in Victory Lane during the NASCAR Nationwide Series 5-hour ENERGY 200 at Dover International Speedway on June 1, 2013 in Dover, Delaware.  (Photo by Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Did Joey Logano really need a 5-hour ENERGY to win this race? Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images

All-nighters and frequent caffeine breaks are a normal part of college students lives. With the production of “energy drinks” like 5-Hour Energy and Monster though, traditional caffeine methods such as coffee and soda have taken the back seat, to the promise of something with a little more kick. However, in a recent study by Centre College in Danville, KY, researchers discovered that energy drinks are no more effective than standard caffeinated drinks.

During the study, researchers led by KatieAnn Skogsberg, assistant professor of psychology and behavioral neuroscience, analyzed participants’ brain activity while they performed a tasks that call for a strong attention span. More specifically, the Centre researchers observed how fast the brain responded to changes in letters appearing on a computer screen.

Before performing the tasks, participants consumed eight ounces of either water, water with caffeine, or water containing the energy drink 5-Hour Energy.

In comparison to the participants who drank plain water, those who drank the caffeinated drinks had faster brain responses. However, no difference in brain activity were shown in those who consumed caffeinated water and those who consumed 5-Hour Energy with the water.

The study also found no difference in participants’ physical reaction times, regardless of whether or not they drank a caffeinated drink.

In an interview with Live Science.com, Centre College student and study researcher Chelsea Benham said, “A lot of people take the energy drinks because they think they have that extra boost over caffeine,” but really “there’s really no difference.”

So, whether your vice is coffee or Red Bull, don’t expect to grow wings any time soon.


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