Red Bull is a fortified beverage that can be used to supplement energy and concentration. It contains several invigorating ingredients, each of which has a slight nuance in function. While often beneficial, when taken in excess, some ingredients can cause undesirable side effects.
Because of the amount of sugar contained in a can of Red Bull, weight gain can be an unhealthy side effect of Red Bull consumption. According to DietFacts.com, one 8.3 ounce can of Red Bull has 27 grams of sugar. The Mayo Clinic says that sugar intake has a direct correlation with weight gain, especially for individuals who do not exercise frequently or people who struggle to maintain a healthy weight. Weight gain can result in a number of health-related problems, including heart complications and lethargy. Excessive sugar intake can also contribute to the development of diabetes and a reduction in the function of the immune system.
One of the energy-boosting ingredients in Red Bull is caffeine. An 8.3 ounce can of Red Bull contains 80 mg of caffeine. According to an article by Woojae Kim of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology entitled “Debunking the Effects of Taurine in Red Bull Energy Drink,” the caffeine in energy drinks is the greatest contributor to the energy-producing effect, not the taurine or grucuronolactone, as the manufacturer proposes. Excessive caffeine consumption can produce anxiety, nervousness, restlessness and insomnia.
The caffeine in Red Bull can also cause increased blood pressure. This can be dangerous for individuals who intend to engage in intense physical exertion or have had previous heart problems or complications. High blood pressure can also trigger irregular heart rhythms, which could be detrimental to the heart and potentially fatal to the individual.
Consumption of energy drinks has also been associated with an increased risk of heart attacks and cardiac failure. Roger A. Clemens of the University of Southern California's School of Pharmacy says that mixing alcohol with energy drinks, such as Red Bull, can cause cardiovascular risk, shortness of breath, and rapid heartbeat.
Dehydration is always a concern for athletes. However, individuals who consume caffeine, like that in Red Bull, may have an increased risk of dehydration. Excess caffeine intake has been shown to result in headaches and nausea, all symptoms of dehydration. Redbull.com warns that Red Bull "has not been formulated to deliver re-hydration" and recommends athletes drink plenty of water during exercise.