Every athlete including paintballers need energy, and with all of the energy shots being advertised today I figured it was appropriate to review and assess one the most popular energy drinks; 5 Hour Energy. In this post you can get an idea of how 5 hour energy works, the ingredients in it, and the side effects of this liquid energy booster.
What you won't find in this review is fluff. I tried to keep this as real as possible by presenting you with information that you can use to form your own opinion about 5 Hour Energy. I do provide my opinion at the bottom of this post, but in no way am I trying to sell you on it, that is a decision I wanted to leave up to you. On the other hand...
The 5-Hour Energy drink has found its way into gas stations and retail stores across the country. What makes this energy drink different is it comes without the "crash" other energy drinks are known for. A closer look at the daily value percentages on the supplement label reveals some off-the-chart percentages that definitely raise some questions, but we'll get to this later.
First off, why is there no crash?
The homepage for 5-Hour Energy states that sugars taken in excess of 20mg per serving increases blood glucose levels. Insulin is responsible for regulating blood glucose levels in the body, and a transition from high glucose levels to stabilized glucose levels can create the crash effect. It is because of this constant battle for homeostasis is why sugar is merely a short-term source of energy, and why people feel so tired after an hour or two of consuming large quantities of it.
How much caffeine is in 5 Hour Energy?
The real source of energy in most energy drinks is caffeine, a stimulant that has been used to wake up society for ages. Any more than 500 to 600mg of caffeine (6-7 cups of coffee) a day however can induce side effects such as light-headedness, diarrhea, rapid heartbeat and even irritability.
The good news is a bottle of 5-Hour Energy contains what they claim to be an amount “comparable to a cup of the leading premium coffee,” which after research I found to be around 200mg, an amount still under the maximum milligrams recommended. Since the caffeine is under the maximum amount, it should provide the user with increased alertness and reduced fatigue.
Whats different about 5 Hour Energy?
The confusing part however is that unlike other energy drinks, 5 Hour Energy does not contain carbohydrates, yet they claim it provides energy. Is the caffeine enough to provide sustained 5-hours worth of energy? In part, yes, it can if you have an available supply of fatty acids, which caffeine is known to release to feed muscles for energy. You could expect to get energy for a good time period, but for sustained energy carbohydrates will be needed. The combination of caffeine and B Vitamins, which work to convert proteins, carbs, starches, and fats into energy makes this supplement a good candidate to take before a meal. Many doctors insist taking B Vitamins before meals to get maximum effect, the same goes for amino acids.
Is there anything wrong with 5 Hour Energy?
After sifting through all of the information on the 5-Hour Energy homepage you can’t help but feel enticed to buy a couple to try out. They seem to have everything you need to keep on going, but what still has me concerned is the 2000% daily value of B6 and the 8333% of B12. All other ingredients including the amino acids are in amounts considered to be healthy, but what about the amount of B Vitamins? The 5-Hour Energy website has a nice explanation for those that are concerned about taking a large dose of Vitamin B. They simply state that the B Vitamins in their supplement; B6, B12, B3, and B9 are water soluble, any amount that is not absorbed is “expelled with no toxic effects.” They even go on to say that those on B vitamin therapy take even higher doses.
Sounds convincing right? What they fail to explain is that water, an essential ingredient that is needed to expel unused B Vitamins, should be mega-dosed to offset the mega-dose of B Vitamins in a 5 Hour Energy shot. Contrary to belief, it is possible to overdose on Vitamin B. Overdosing on Vitamin B happens when intolerable amounts are taken over a long period of time which can result in headache, dizziness, fainting, yellowing of skin, and temporary nerve/brain damage that can last 3 months to 3 years.
I could not find a consistent number defining a toxic amount, as it seems to be different for everyone. One case for toxicity reported 5,500mg for one dose, while another reported 500mg over a period of time (3 months or so), which happens to be the equivalent of B12 in one bottle of 5 hour energy. The recommended daily dose for B3 is 6mg, .8 for B6, and 30mg for B12. The amount of B3 in a 5 Hour Energy drink is 30mg, 40mg of B6, and 500mcg of B12.
It seems the number of ingredients in 5 Hour Energy shots work together in more ways than I can piece together. In my assessment I did find that the amount of B Vitamins could potentially lead to an overdose. In the most extreme case, if taken daily and over a period of time 5 Hour Energy shots could very well cause temporary nerve/brain damage (in the most extreme cases). Symptoms such as numb hands and feet are signs of toxic levels.
Aside from that, the combination of ingredients and a healthy amount of water should result in 5 hours of energy if fatty acids and carbs are available for synthesis, and the user has not desensitized themselves to the effects of caffeine.
So does 5 Hour Energy Work?
Yes, it will, as long as you aren't a heavy user of caffeine (or a newb to it!), and supply your body with some carbs you should in theory get hours worth of energy and focus from the amino acids in 5 Hour Energy.
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Should you be worried about side effects?
As with anything, you should exercise moderation. You can expect side effects if you take 2 of these a day for 30 days, but who does that? For the paintballer who needs energy for a big game or tournament, 5 Hour Energy is perfect and should do wonders for you.
So there you have it, the lowdown on 5 hour energy, and hopefully the answers to all of the questions you have about this ultra-popular energy drink.