View Poll Results: Which is worse?
The energy drinks are worse. 24 33.33%
The 12 pack is worse 33 45.83%
It's a wash./Other 15 20.83%
Voters: 72. You may not vote on this poll

Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 03-10-2017, 12:02 PM
Grrr!'s Avatar
Grrr! is offline
Charter Member
Join Date: Aug 2001
Posts: 16,527

Which is worse: Alcohol or Monster/Red Bull type drinks?

If you folks would kindly help me settle an argument.

So which is worse?

3 to 4 "Energy" drinks on a daily basis?


Plowing through no more than a twelve pack on a single night in a given week?

I'm thinking energy drinks have to be worse considering they are being consumed every day. (Not that drinking a 12 pack in a week is all that great either)
Old 03-10-2017, 12:08 PM
running coach's Avatar
running coach is offline
Arms of Steel, Leg of Jello
Charter Member
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Riding my handcycle
Posts: 37,453
energy drinks are just caffeine. have you seen how much coffee some people drink? Most energy drinks barely match a cup of coffee. A six ounce cup of coffee. When you consider the mugs most people use, energy drinks are weak.
Old 03-10-2017, 12:11 PM
DrFidelius's Avatar
DrFidelius is offline
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Miskatonic University
Posts: 12,567
Include sodas (or any of the other flavored sugar waters) in the poll and I may participate.
Old 03-10-2017, 12:14 PM
DCnDC's Avatar
DCnDC is offline
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: The Dueling Grounds
Posts: 13,051
A toxic dose of caffeine is over 10 grams/day. A 12 oz Red Bull contains 111mg of caffeine. 3-4 a day is nowhere near a harmful dose.

Regular binge drinking is not good, but a single instance is very likely harmless.
Old 03-10-2017, 12:15 PM
boffking is offline
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: New England
Posts: 2,538
Caffeine isn't much of an issue, but keep in mind that energy drinks often have more sugar than soda.
Old 03-10-2017, 12:29 PM
Grrr!'s Avatar
Grrr! is offline
Charter Member
Join Date: Aug 2001
Posts: 16,527
Originally Posted by boffking View Post
Caffeine isn't much of an issue, but keep in mind that energy drinks often have more sugar than soda.
Yeah, I really wasn't taking caffeine into my consideration. (it seems like a non issue to me) I was thinking all that sugar intake has got to make it worse.
Old 03-10-2017, 12:37 PM
quimper is offline
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 299
The 12 pack, esp if its binged in one night. Your liver only has limited amounts of Alcohol dehydrogenases (ADH) and Coenzyme A (COA) to neutralize the poisonous ethanol. Binging just damages the liver more.
Old 03-10-2017, 12:39 PM
elbows is offline
Charter Member
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: London, Ontario
Posts: 14,402
They also usually contain an unregulated herbal ingredient that intensifies the effect of the caffeine. Also they are heavily promoted by skate/snowboard companies and the like, usually to teens. And 10yr olds can and do buy them as a result!

Also, college kids routinely combine alcohol and monster drinks, I'm thinking that's gotta be the worst of all. Hopelessly drunk and no hope of passing out! Yipes!

Last edited by elbows; 03-10-2017 at 12:40 PM.
Old 03-10-2017, 01:35 PM
shunpiker is offline
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Central North Carolina
Posts: 1,581
From my limited research into NAFLD, one could reason that the constant battering of your liver with those sugar molecules is going to be worse than a 1-day 12-pack session.
"Sugar acts as a chronic, dose-dependent liver toxin (poison) when consumed in excess, Dr. Lustig has stated."
"Too much sugar isn’t just bad for your teeth. It can harm your liver, too. The organ uses one type of sugar, called fructose, to make fat. Too much refined sugar and high-fructose corn syrup causes a fatty buildup that can lead to liver disease. Some studies show that sugar can be as damaging to the liver as alcohol, even if you’re not overweight. It’s one more reason to limit foods with added sugars, such as soda, pastries, and candy."

Note, I did minimal research to support this post. And i don't think there's a lot of fructose in RedBull. In fact, the can at my desk says sucrose and glucose. I'm sure the organic chemists will be in here soon to quell my fears of RedBull.
Old 03-10-2017, 02:05 PM
salinqmind is offline
Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: Liverpool NY USA
Posts: 10,203
I know a few hard working adults, 40 and up, even older, who rely on energy drinks when they plan to drive far, do manual labor, tear up the garden. They are also alcohol drinkers (not at the same time, for chrissake) - isn't it BAD for older people to drink Red Bull? Doesn't it make their blood platelets stick together or something?
Old 03-10-2017, 02:16 PM
Azeotrope is offline
Registered User
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 1,980
That's what I get for voting before I read the OP. Let's all pretend there's one less vote for energy drinks, and one more for 12 pack.
Old 03-10-2017, 02:34 PM
The Other Waldo Pepper is online now
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 16,859
Originally Posted by salinqmind View Post
I know a few hard working adults, 40 and up, even older, who rely on energy drinks when they plan to drive far, do manual labor, tear up the garden. They are also alcohol drinkers (not at the same time, for chrissake)
How about a rum-and-coke? Maybe an Irish coffee?
Old 03-10-2017, 02:53 PM
Ludovic is offline
Charter Member
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: America's Wing
Posts: 30,558
I voted "energy drink" because the OP did not specify medically worse. The 12 pack is definitely worse for your body: if it weren't, certainly there'd be studies about coffee drinkers' firmly shorted lifespans (even if that level of alcohol would not be as bad as smoking and probably also not as bad as bad diet/exercise).

But I think that the quality of life would be worse with the energy drinks, being jittery and dependent on the daily fix.

Last edited by Ludovic; 03-10-2017 at 02:54 PM.
Old 03-10-2017, 03:04 PM
Ludovic is offline
Charter Member
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: America's Wing
Posts: 30,558
Actually upon thinking about it, personally, if I had to pick one that I was forced to do and then magically not be dependent on caffeine if I picked the alcohol, I'd still pick the energy drinks because a 12 pack in a single night would mess me up to the point I wouldn't be enjoying it, especially if it was only once a week. Take that down to around 10 and then I'd have to think about it since I still wouldn't particularly enjoy myself but I feel a whole lot better without so much caffeine. If it were around 8 I'd take the drinks as long as it wasn't beer. With beer I'd take the bad feeling of caffeine dependence and jitters since beer tastes horrible.

Last edited by Ludovic; 03-10-2017 at 03:04 PM.
Old 03-10-2017, 09:06 PM
kaylasdad99 is offline
Charter Member
Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: Anaheim, CA
Posts: 32,365
Never tried Monster. This is largely due to the fact that I put Red Bull into my mouth once and concluded that it is not only worse than alcohol, it is worse than EVERYTHING. And when I say EVERYTHING, I mean the Designated Hitter rule (which is the second worst thing in the history of history).
Old 03-10-2017, 09:26 PM
SeaDragonTattoo is offline
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Chicago, Far Northsider
Posts: 7,813
I have yet to consume an energy drink that was more than a few calories. I didn't take any sugar consumption into account in my vote since I forgot there were energy drinks that had it. Since I already drink 16-32 ounces of coffee a day, and since a 12 pack of any alcohol would not only incapacitate me that evening but make me miserable and possibly incapacitated the following day, I chose the alcohol as the less desirable habit.
Old 03-10-2017, 09:27 PM
GuanoLad's Avatar
GuanoLad is online now
Charter Member
Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: Where the wild roses grow
Posts: 24,959
Energy drinks certainly smell worse.

*I don't drink alcohol or energy drinks.
Old 03-11-2017, 03:52 PM
MacTech is offline
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Sector ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha
Posts: 6,581
Instead of the typical Brawndo the Thirst Mutilator reference, I'd put in a plug for Horton's Metal Tube of Caffeinated Sparkling Chemicals

Last edited by MacTech; 03-11-2017 at 03:52 PM.
Old 03-12-2017, 09:24 AM
funnyscripts is offline
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 3
Energy drinks can kill ya with that sugar and increased heartrate
Old 03-12-2017, 12:46 PM
guizot is offline
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: An East Hollywood dingbat
Posts: 8,805
Originally Posted by Ludovic View Post
I voted "energy drink" because the OP did not specify medically worse. The 12 pack is definitely worse for your body . . .
I'm not sure how we can really disentangle "medically" worse from the "other" worse. It can make a difference in the age of the person. Research is indicating that episodic binge drinking by young people may have long-term effects on the brain.
Originally Posted by National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
Numerous studies have demonstrated that the effects of alcohol depend not only on the amount of alcohol consumed but also on the pattern of consumption. In general, drinking moderate alcohol amounts (one or two glasses of alcohol) almost every day appears to be less harmful than consuming the same total amount (that is, 7 to 14 glasses) on just one or two occasions per week—a pattern known as binge drinking or heavy episodic drinking. Heavy episodic drinking, which often is associated with hangover or mild withdrawal symptoms, is particularly common in adolescents and young adults, among whom this drinking pattern appears to be related to cognitive impairment. For example, in their 8-year followup study of adolescents with AUDs (see the earlier section, “Effects on Neuropsychological Performance”), Tapert and colleagues (2002a) found that having more hangover or alcohol withdrawal symptoms (which indicates a pattern of heavy episodic drinking) predicted poorer visuospatial functioning in young adulthood. This relationship was observed even after controlling for visuospatial functioning at the beginning of the study, AOD use, and practice effects from the previous administration of the neuropsychological tests.
Other studies, both in humans and in animal models, also have associated heavy episodic drinking patterns, as opposed to daily drinking patterns, with detrimental effects on cognitive functioning. These analyses also found that adolescents or young adults who are heavy episodic drinkers may be more sensitive to alcohol’s harmful effects on neurocognition than those who drink less or in a more consistent pattern. Weissenborn and Duka (2003) studied 95 participants ages 18 to 34, categorizing them as nonepisodic drinkers or heavy episodic drinkers, which are defined as men who consume five drinks or more per occasion and women who consume four drinks or more. Half of the participants from each group were given alcohol (the equivalent of about four to five drinks), and the others received a placebo. When all participants were subsequently tested on memory acquisition, motor functioning, spatial working memory, pattern recognition, and spatial recognition tasks—in the presence and absence of alcohol—the heavy episodic drinkers performed significantly worse than the nonepisodic drinkers on the spatial-working-memory and pattern recognition tasks. These findings support the hypothesis that a pattern of heavy episodic drinking can be particularly harmful to cognitive functioning.
Old 03-12-2017, 01:49 PM
Qadgop the Mercotan's Avatar
Qadgop the Mercotan is offline
zymolosely polydactile
Charter Member
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Slithering on the hull
Posts: 27,501
The alcohol consumption, as described, definitely has known associations with high risk for bad outcomes.

As described, a 12 pack on one night a week is 168 grams in one drinking session, and that is binge drinking.

Binge drinking has been definitively associated by the CDC with a host of risks, including:

Unintentional injuries (e.g., car crashes, falls, burns, drowning)
Intentional injuries (e.g., firearm injuries, sexual assault, domestic violence)
Alcohol poisoning
Sexually transmitted diseases
Unintended pregnancy
Children born with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
High blood pressure, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases
Liver disease
Neurological damage
Sexual dysfunction
Poor control of diabetes

No such strong correlations with energy drink consumption and bad outcomes such as these has yet been demonstrated so clearly.

Last edited by Qadgop the Mercotan; 03-12-2017 at 01:50 PM.
Old 10-25-2019, 12:17 PM
Deathstorm is offline
Join Date: Oct 2019
Posts: 2


Alcohol is way unhealthier. As others said, it’s not that much caffeine, alcohol is also way more addictive and causes 2.8 million deaths anually, and since 2004 only 34 deaths have a confirmed link to Energy drinks.
Old 10-25-2019, 12:18 PM
Deathstorm is offline
Join Date: Oct 2019
Posts: 2
2.8 million deaths anually from alcohol and only 34 confirmed deaths from energy drinks since 2004

Energy drinks can do stuff to your heart

Last edited by Deathstorm; 10-25-2019 at 12:19 PM.
Old 10-25-2019, 08:34 PM
RioRico is offline
Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: beyond cell service
Posts: 654
I'm not the only of us who voted before reading the conditions, which were omitted from the poll text. But I'll still go with "other" because it depends on a consumer's age, body chemistry, activity level, prior and subsequent substance ingestion, the volume and ABV (percentage) of beer in that 12-pack, and how long the evening lasts. A 12-pack of 8oz cans of 4% brew ==> just under 4oz of pure alcohol. A 12-pack of 16oz cans of 8.5% brew ==> just over 16oz of alcohol, like slugging two liters of spirits (plus a big sip).

Lots of sugar plus caffeine every day vs one non-toxic binge per week? I sure can't say Monsters are healthier.
Old 10-25-2019, 11:10 PM
actualliberalnotoneofthose is offline
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 2,446
I don't drink beer. I will have alcohol a few times a year. I drink Bang energy drinks (no sugar, BTW) 4 times per week or so. Most people think I look 10-12 years younger than I am and I am in the best shape and health (per blood work, BP, etc) of my life in my early 40s. I'm probably not typical of an "energy drink user," though. I don't do Monster, red Bull, and other high sugar stuff. Most of those guys I know also wash their teeth with Mountain Dew and eat Twinkies for dinner. Almost all the guys I know who have a 6pack after work have huge guts, shortness of breath, high anxiety. Though most of them smoke, too.

Last edited by actualliberalnotoneofthose; 10-25-2019 at 11:12 PM.
Old 10-26-2019, 09:28 PM
MacTech is offline
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Sector ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha
Posts: 6,581
Well, Brawndo has Electrolytes, it has what plants crave...

Beer *doesn't* have Electrolytes, and doesn't have what plants crave...

Ergo; Brawndo is *better*…

….both are better than water though....

I could really go for a Starbucks right now..

Freakazoid> dumb, Dumb, DUMB!, NEVER tell the villain how to trap you in a cage!
Gutierrez> You probably shouldn't have helped us build it either...
F!> I know, DUMB!


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 05:21 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to:

Send comments about this website to:

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright © 2019 STM Reader, LLC.

Copyright © 2017