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What is Red Bull?

Let’s start with the basics. What exactly is Red Bull, anyway?

The drink was created in 1987 by a wealthy entrepreneur by the name of Dietrich Mateschitz. He was reportedly inspired to create the drink after arriving in Thailand with an exceptionally bad case of jet lag. 

Today, Red Bull is one of the world’s most famous energy drinks, with 7.5 billion cans sold in 2019 . Loved for its hot pink color and its distinctive taste, it is a favorite for everyone from exhausted new parents to procrastinating college students pulling an all-nighter. It’s even found in the Jagerbomb, one of the world’s most popular, buzz-inducing mixed drinks.

What is in Red Bull?

Like many energy drinks, Red Bull has relatively high caffeine content. But what else is in Red Bull?

Red Bull is basically a mixture of sugar, caffeine, B Vitamins, and taurine, all ingredients that are known for their energizing qualities. Each can contains around 168 calories. Here’s a more detailed breakdown of the ingredients:

  • Carbonated Water
  • Sucrose
  • Glucose
  • Citric Acid
  • Taurine
  • Sodium Bicarbonate
  • Magnesium Carbonate
  • Caffeine
  • Niacinamide
  • Calcium Pantothenate
  • Pyridoxine HCI
  • Vitamin B12
  • Natural and Artificial Flavors
  • Colors

Let’s discuss some of these ingredients in more detail.

Glucose and Sucrose

Glucose (a monosaccharide) and sucrose (a disaccharide) are scientific names for sugar. We all know that some sugar in our diet is essential for our energy levels. However, too much sugar can have some troubling side effects, such as blood sugar spikes and energy surges and crashes.

Red Bull contains almost the same amount of sugar as Coca-Cola, 37 grams of sugar compared to 39 grams, respectively. It’s important to note that the daily recommended intake for added sugar is no more than 25 grams per day for women and 36 grams per day for men. That means that one can of Red Bull exceeds those recommendations for both men and women!

Taurine

Taurine is an organic compound found in human and animal tissue. It is a type of amino acid that is made naturally in the lower intestine of the human body. The acid works within the digestive system to stimulate energy and generate nerve impulses, impacting the cardiovascular system and central nervous system

Taurine is often included in energy products because of its ability to provide a quick energy boost. An 8 ounce can of Red Bull contains 1g of taurine. Consuming this amount of taurine is not thought to be harmful or dangerous in any way. In fact, the Red Bull website states that the human body contains more than 70 times the amount of Taurine as the energy drink.

Oh and just in case you were wondering, this amino acid does not come from bull sperm, as the common myth states.

Caffeine

Caffeine is widely known to give you a superficial but instantaneous boost of energy. The substance blocks a chemical known as adenosine, which is found in the brain. It also makes the body release adrenaline. 

Red Bull contains 80 mg of caffeine. You may believe that Red Bull is relatively high in caffeine, however, this amount is roughly the same as an average cup of coffee. Nevertheless, it’s important that you learn to limit your caffeine intake to reduce the risk of negative side effects like diarrhea, nervousness, and jitters.

What are the Benefits of Red Bull?

Now that we’ve examined the beverage’s ingredients in a little more details, let’s discover whether Red Bull has any benefits.

There aren’t many actual benefits of drinking Red Bull, unfortunately.

The only real benefit of the beverage is that it does give you a serious energy boost, thanks to the expertly crafted combination of caffeine, sugar, and taurine.

Nutritionally, it does provide more than 100% of daily recommended B-vitamins. However, because B-vitamins are water soluble, any vitamins that can’t be used by the body will be excreted in the urine.

What are the Risks of Drinking Red Bull?

If Red Bull isn’t good for you, does that mean it’s bad?

No, not necessarily.

The health risks associated with Red Bull only become serious if you are over-consuming the beverage. Too much of anything can be dangerous, and Red Bull is no different. Excessive consumption of the drink can result in a range of worrying long-term health risks, in addition to some short term health issues.

What are the Immediate Side Effects of Too Much?

You may start to experience the following side effects if you are in the habit of drinking Red Bull frequently:

  • Increased blood pressure and heart rate - Drinking just one can of Red Bull can significantly raise your blood pressure and heart rate. If you are in desperate need of an energy boost, this side effect can help to increase your energy levels. However, if you drink too much Red Bull, or mix it with other caffeinated beverages, you may start to feel that your heart is racing.
  • Jitters - If you tend to drink coffee or Coke along with Red Bull, you’re probably consuming too much caffeine. The over consumption of caffeine can come with some disturbing short term side effects such as jitters. If you’ve ever experienced a shaky feeling after drinking a can of the energy drink, it may be wise to cut back. 
  • Sugar crashes - One of the ingredients that give Red Bull its energizing qualities is sugar. With too much sugar, your body can begin to react in a slightly disturbing way. Almost everyone will have experienced a sugar crash at some point in their lives. A sugar crash occurs when your energy levels drop suddenly after consuming a large quantity of sugar. Remember, while Red Bull may give you metaphorical wings, you might find yourself feeling less magical when those wings suddenly fade.

What are the Long-Term Health Risks of Too Much?

If you continue to drink too much Red Bull, you may eventually put yourself at risk of the following conditions.

  • Type 2 diabetes and hypertension - With consistent, frequent consumption of Red Bull, you may put yourself at risk of a condition known as hypertension, which is the medical term for high blood pressure. This is due to the high sugar content. And, with high blood pressure comes the risk of type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is a difficult condition to live with and can force you to make some drastic lifestyle changes. Find out more about the disease here.
  • Damage to teeth - Sugary drinks are known to damage the tooth enamel over time. If you develop a habit of drinking too much Red Bull, you may suffer from poor dental health in years to come. 
  • Poor kidney function - The taurine and sugar in Red Bull can have some serious effects on your kidney health over time. Several studies have shown cases of renal failure associated with drinking the beverage.
  • Heart failure - If you continue to drink Red Bull frequently, you may put yourself at risk for some pretty serious heart problems later in life. By continuously boosting your blood pressure levels, you will put additional strain on the heart, eventually leading to a higher risk of developing heart conditions.

What are the Healthiest “Energy Drinks”?

If Red Bull is, overall, a dangerous drink to consume, are there any ‘healthy’ energy drinks? If you’re looking to find a beverage that can boost your energy levels without putting you at risk for any of these health conditions listed above, try one of the following drinks instead. All of these options are low in sugar and caffeine, plus, some of them are actually good for you!

FAQs

Are the rumors true - is there really Bull urine in this energy drink?

Lots of people are under the misapprehension that Red Bull is made with actual bull urine for its taurine content. While the drink does contain taurine, but this chemical is not extracted from bull urine!

Is Sugar free red bull bad for you?

If you really do need to get a caffeine fix from Red Bull, try switching to one of the “healthier” options. Red Bull Sugar-Free and Red Bull Zero contain no sugar at all, so they don’t come with the heart-related risks. However, in order to get their flavor, these versions contain other sugar substitutes like aspartame.

Is Red Bull Worse Than Coffee?

It depends on what you mean by ‘worse’. Red Bull contains way more sugar than a cup of plain coffee, unless you add sugar. In terms of caffeine, both contain around the same amount at 80mg.

Is Red Bull Worse Than Gatorade?

Gatorade is technically a sports drink, designed to replenish electrolytes that athletes lose through sweat. With their electrolyte levels replenished, athletes usually get an extra boost of energy. However, Gatorade does have its dose of negative side effects much like Red Bull.

Nevertheless, if we compare the ingredients in both drinks, Gatorade comes out on top. The sports drink has fewer carbs (or sugar) and no caffeine. As an athlete, Gatorade is definitely preferable for an energy boost.

Is Red Bull Worse Than Fruit Juice?

As you’ve probably guessed, yes, Red Bull is definitely less healthy than fruit juice. Lots of people choose to drink juice for its energizing properties. While juice can have a diminished nutritional count (due to pasteurization) and a high sugar count, it doesn’t contain caffeine. Plus, the sugars found in juice tend to be natural fruit sugars. However, natural or not, excess sugars are not a good thing when consumed in excess.

Final Thoughts - Is Red Bull Bad For You?

As with most drinks that aren’t pure water, moderation is key. Because of the associated health risks to the heart, we recommend limiting your intake of Red Bull as much as possible. Of course, the odd can won’t hurt you too much, but avoid making drinking this beverage a habit.

Let us know if you’ve ever experienced any negative side effects from drinking Red Bull. Have you tried kicking the Red Bull habit? Let us know how you did it below!