- Recent studies indicate that “energy shots” filled with caffeine can potentially lead to temporary insulin resistance in teenagers, possibly setting a basis for type 2 diabetes later in life.
- In a study, teenagers who consumed a 5-hour Energy shot displayed 25% increase in their blood sugar and blood insulin levels in comparison to when they ingested a decaffeinated version of the same drink.
- Research suggests that caffeine in these drinks is what triggers this insulin resistance, a condition where the body has to produce more insulin to achieve the same result and is an initial step in developing type 2 diabetes.
- Although the long-term effects of caffeine-laden energy drinks remain unclear, it raises concerns about the role these energy drinks might have in future risk of type 2 diabetes.
- The caffeine in energy drinks is a processed form, which has a more direct impact on a person’s metabolism, unlike the caffeine in coffee which comes from plants and is associated with beneficial compounds.
Recent research has indicated that “energy shots” filled with caffeine could potentially induce temporary insulin resistance in teenagers, claim researchers in Canada. The findings suggest that the beverage might be setting the groundwork for the onset of type 2 diabetes later in their lives.
Energy Shots and Insulin Resistance
The participants in the study, teenagers who consumed a 5-hour Energy shot – containing no sugar but 208 milligrams of caffeine – were not as efficient at metabolizing sugar versus when they ingested a decaffeinated version of the same drink.
The research further demonstrated that those who drank the original 5-hour Energy drink experienced a rise of 25 percent in both their blood sugar and blood insulin levels when compared to when they consumed the decaffeinated variant.
Researchers believe it’s the caffeine within these drinks leading to such effects. “The high caffeine content in energy drinks is what triggers this reaction,” says Jane Shearer, a senior researcher and diabetes researcher at the University of Calgary in Canada.
The Effect of Caffeine
Interestingly, even when their bodies began to produce insulin, the blood sugar levels of the teenagers in the study didn’t decrease. This insinuates that caffeine might be causing insulin resistance – the body must produce more insulin to achieve the same result. Notably, insulin resistance is the initial step in developing type 2 diabetes.
In the study, 20 teens, aged 13 to 19, were randomly given a traditional 5-hour Energy shot or a 5-hour Energy Decaf. Forty minutes later, a standard oral glucose tolerance test was undertaken. Studies show that when participants drank the caffeinated 5-hour Energy, they experienced a 24.6 percent greater rise in blood glucose levels and a 26.4 percent greater increase in insulin levels during the glucose tolerance test than when they drank the decaf 5-hour Energy.
Despite these alarming results, the long-term effects of caffeine-laden energy drinks remain undetermined. However, it raises concerns about the role these energy drinks might have in future risk of type 2 diabetes.
Surprisingly, these findings do not imply that people who consume coffee regularly should be alarmed. Even though a cup of coffee contains a significant amount of caffeine, coffee is the primary source of antioxidants for most North Americans. The caffeine in coffee comes from plants, associated with many other beneficial compounds, in contrast to energy drinks which contain a processed form of powdered caffeine that has a more direct impact on a person’s metabolism.
Further research by the same team is planned, wherein they will study the health effects of regular, full-sized energy drinks like Red Bull and Monster, which contain high quantities of both sugar and caffeine.
Although the human body can adapt to continual doses of caffeine, and whether the insulin resistance displayed in this study will persist enough to create health problems, remains unclear.
For further information on caffeine, you may visit the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s dedicated page.