And it’s not entirely surprising that sweetened drinks can pile on the pounds. In one meta-analysis, researchers found that people who ate whatever they wanted typically weighed more when their diet contained more sugar and less when they didn’t consume as much. (Learn how bone broth can help you lose weight with Women’s Health’s Bone Broth Diet.)
Energy drinks also pack a perky punch, with some cans containing as much as 207 milligrams (mg) of caffeine per 2 oz, according to the review. While the researchers note that a moderate intake of up to 400 mg per day for adults is considered safe, the health implications can get a little dicey when you start to go overboard. That’s one potential reason why the drinks are associated with anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts. One Korean study suggests that caffeine dependency may influence your irritable mood and screw with your sleep, which can be linked to stress and symptoms of depression.
Mattei believes this excess caffeine may also play a role in certain cardiovascular issues, like high blood pressure. However, other stimulants that contribute to the buzz—like gaurana, taurine, and ginseng—may have an influence as well, according to a study from the American Heart Association.
That’s a bit up in the air, though, says Mattei, and further research needs to be done to understand exactly how those ingredients affect your body. The review itself is limited, since there are only a small number of studies surrounding energy drinks, most of them focusing on young, healthy adults at one point in time.
Mattei emphasizes that the current evidence does support that the health risks outweigh any short-term perks you might experience from your energy drink.
Your move, then, is to nix them from you diet altogether. As obvious as it sounds, reaching for water can help, she says. Staying hydrated naturally keeps your body running—no funky ingredients or added sugar necessary. And if you want to wean yourself off of caffeine for good? Here are seven ways to boost your energy without it.