High-caffeine energy drinks are too much ‘Bang’ for your buck

Quinnipiac should not sell energy drinks with excessive caffeine content

Michael Sicoli, Editor-in-Chief

Illustration by Xavier Cullen

Working too much for too long is something any college student is familiar with. And to get through that three-hour philosophy class, energy drinks tend to be the go-to option.

Unfortunately, drinks such as Bang are readily offered all around Quinnipiac University when they really shouldn’t be.

A single 16 fluid-ounce can of Bang contains 300 milligrams of caffeine, which is the equivalent of three cups of coffee. The Food and Drug Administration suggests that consumers shouldn’t exceed 400 mgs of caffeine a day, meanwhile students can drink one Bang and consume a daily intake in under an hour.

Some people might read that as a better “bang” for your buck — getting a day’s worth of caffeine with one purchase from Café Q. However, drinking excessive amounts of caffeine in a short time can cause anxiety and jitteriness, not to mention a rising heart rate.

Some have even died from rapidly consuming caffeine. A California teen drank a McDonald’s latte, a large Mountain Dew soft drink and an energy drink. Consuming that much caffeine in under two hours led to a “caffeine-induced cardiac event causing a probable arrhythmia,” per the Richland County coroner. He died, and no one would have even looked for caffeine as the cause if not for witnesses who told officials what the 16-year-old was drinking.

Now, this isn’t a commonality, but energy drinks can lead to long-term health issues. A study by the University of the Pacific found that drinking energy drinks consistently can cause long-term effects on the “body’s metabolism, including cholesterol, blood sugars and weight.”

Energy drinks are chock-full of ingredients you wouldn’t put into your body if you actually took the time to read it. Acesulfame potassium, or Ace-K, is more than some scientific mumbo-jumbo term. It’s a chemical compound commonly used as a calorie-replacing sweetener with the infamous sucralose, but Ace-K is no sweet treat. It’s been linked to a myriad of negative health effects that can lead to weight gain and diabetes. It’s also been connected to cancer, although there are conflicting studies to the validity of this.

What’s really scary is that little has been confirmed about Ace-K. There are several conflicting studies on what the artificial sweetener actually does, and many claims to undergo further studies.

Meanwhile, do you want to drink creatine? I imagine not, and it’s a good thing Bang doesn’t have creatine — it contains SUPERCREATINE, otherwise known as Creatyl-L-Leucine.

That’s not a joke. Bang created a proprietary version of creatine, and there is a lack of information on what Creatyl-L-Leucine actually does. Since there’s a lack of scientific evidence, consumers don’t even know how much Creatyl-L-Leucine is in Bang.

This is what energy drink consumers are putting in their body. And it’s understandable.

As mentioned above, the plights of college students are all too familiar. The stress of classes, extracurriculars and a social life can be too much to handle without a helping hand of caffeine. It’s all about moderation, or better yet how one consumes caffeine.

A better alternative to Bang or brands of the sort is coffee, as it offers caffeine in more manageable doses. Like Bang, coffee is a low-calorie option. Unlike Bang, it contains significantly less artificial components. The reason why sugar-free energy drinks have lower calories is courtesy of sucralose, an infamous replacement for natural sugar that raises blood sugar levels.

Coffee is an option for students to receive their caffeine fix. It can be as simple and healthy as black coffee, or it can be more elaborate with less health benefits like a seasonal pumpkin spice latte. Bang doesn’t offer that versatility.

This isn’t a coffee vs. energy-drink argument. Heck, some energy drinks fit the moderation bill. Mountain Dew’s Rise contains 180 milligrams of caffeine per 16 fluid ounces — which is 120 milligrams less than Bang — and while it still reeks of artificial sweeteners that are far from ideal, Rise contains fruit juice that Bang does not. The point is that Quinnipiac should not be selling energy drinks that are essentially poison in a can — Bang.

Even coffee and caffeine substitutes are worth being wary of. A study at Florida State University of college students concluded that there is a connection between caffeine intake and “depressive symptoms (poor appetite, overeating, sleep disorders, depressed mood),” as well as anxiety.

It’s important to note that further studies are needed for the causality of this — it’s possible that students exhibit poor time management, which leads to late-night work featuring bedtime’s enemy: caffeine. But consumers should be very aware anytime a drug is consistently slurped down.

That is what caffeine is, after all — a drug — and it should be treated as such. In moderation it can help productivity and activity, but it should be carefully monitored. Bang’s excessive amounts of caffeine are harmful to the students who consume them.

If Quinnipiac’s menus put emphasis on “healthy lifestyles” as its website suggests, then energy drinks such as Bang shouldn’t be on them.