While the labels on caffeinated energy drinks may promise a blend of ingredients to help you focus and feel recharged, a new study finds that ordinary caffeine works just as well.
In a new study from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, researchers analyzed subjects' brain activity while they performed tasks requiring attention, LiveScience reports.
Before the task, subjects drank eight ounces/236 mL of water, caffeinated water, or water containing the energy drink 5-Hour Energy. A 2-ounce bottle (57 mL) bottle of 5-Hour Energy contains about 215 milligrams of caffeine, about the same as two cups of coffee. Other ingredients listed include taurine, glucuronolactone, malic acid, N-Acetyl L-tyrosine, and L-phenylalanine.
All drinks were dyed blue, and subjects weren't aware of which drink they consumed. Caffeine levels were adjusted to the body weight of each subject.
LiveScience reports that subjects who drank the caffeinated drinks had faster brain responses compared to the water drinkers. But there was no difference in performance between those who drank the caffeinated water and those who drank 5-Hour Energy.
"A lot of people take the energy drinks because they think they have that extra boost over caffeine," study researcher Chelsea Benham told LiveScience. But "there's really no difference." She suggests that drinking a cup of coffee "would do you just as well" to boost attention.
The study was presented last week at the annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science in Washington D.C.
There has been some concern about the combination of ingredients, such as guarana, taurine, and L-carnitine, found in energy drinks and boosters, and health experts are calling for more research to determine their safety.
Still, WebMD cites that for those who drink energy drinks from time to time, there is no need to worry.
"I have no real concern that having an energy drink or two will negatively impact most people's health," Dr. C. Michael White, a professor at the University of Connecticut, told the website.