Energy drinks are marketed as wonder products that can increase your stamina, improve mental processing and concentration, and fight muscle fatigue (1). These claims might tempt a breastfeeding mother to try them to fight fatigue and feel energetic. Considering the effects that regular consumption of these drinks may have, it is important to stop and ask yourself if a can of energy drink is what you should reach for while your baby is still breastfeeding.
This MomJunction post tells you if it is safe to have energy drinks when breastfeeding, the ingredients in these beverages, and safer alternatives to consider.
What Is An Energy Drink?
An energy drink is a beverage that is rich in caffeine and sugar. As per the ad blitzkrieg, the drink provides instant energy and stimulation. It may be carbonated or non-carbonated. Some energy drinks contain herbal extracts as well as amino acids (2).
Is It Safe To Have Energy Drinks While Breastfeeding?
The International Sport Society recognized that the ingredients in energy drinks need further studies to establish their safety (3). A few studies also have shown that some of the ingredients used in energy drinks could have some side effects. These ingredients may make energy drinks unsuitable and unsafe for a nursing baby and the mother. However, having an energy drink occasionally and in moderation, may not be harmful to you or your baby.
Read on to know more about the ingredients used to make these energy drinks.
Ingredients Present In Energy Drinks
Caffeine is a stimulant and an ergogenic compound that raises the heart rate and blood pressure (4). The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a maximum daily intake of 300mg of caffeine for a breastfeeding mother (5). An energy drink usually contains 80-150mg of caffeine per eight ounces, which is equivalent to five ounces or approximately 140 grams of coffee (1).
If you are having coffee or any other caffeine-containing drinks, and also consuming an energy drink, you might be crossing the maximum threshold of caffeine intake.
Research suggests that if a baby is caffeine sensitive, consumption of a higher quantity of caffeine might cause fussiness, irritability, and inability to settle in the baby. This might lead to poor feedings, as well (6). Hence, it is wise to avoid large doses of caffeine while breastfeeding.
Caffeine Content In A Few Energy Drinks
|DRINK||Serving Size (Oz.)||Caffeine content (mg)|
|Monster Energy Drink||16||160|
|Mountain Dew Kick Start||16||90|
|NOS Energy Drink||16||160|
|Rockstar Energy Drink||16||160|
|V8 Fusion Energy Drink||8||80|
|Starbucks Tripleshot Energy||15||225|
|Starbucks Refresher, Can||12||50|
Source: Center For Science In The Public Interest (7)
2. Other Ingredients
A few other ingredients present in energy drinks may also pose problems when the beverages are consumed excessively. The ingredients are to consider are:
- Sugars are the second most common ingredient in energy drinks. High-fructose corn syrup or sucrose acts as the main source of energy in these drinks. Long-term exposure to these sugars is associated with insulin resistance and obesity in the consumer. Also, fructose might pass into breastmilk (8).
- Taurine, a sulfur-containing essential amino acid, is produced by humans. It is added to energy drinks to enhance the effects of caffeine (9). Breastmilk has high amounts of taurine, and its supplementation is not required for breastfed babies (10). The effects of taurine ingestion on babies, via energy drinks, are not well-documented.
- Herbs like ginseng and ginkgo biloba are found in some of the energy drinks. Both these herbs are generally regarded as safe (GRAS) for consumption. However, their safety and efficacy while breastfeeding are unknown (11) (12).
Apart from these, energy drinks also contain a few other ingredients such as guarana, l-Carnitine, and antioxidants. The efficacy and safety of these ingredients during lactation are debatable. Moreover, the FDA does not warrant manufacturers to label the quantity of most of the ingredients in energy drinks. The only requirement stated is to list them as an ingredient.
Since the side-effects of these ingredients are not known, it is wise to consult your doctor if you are keen on having an energy drink while you are breastfeeding. If your doctor approves it, limit the intake to 16oz a day.
Alternatives To Energy Drinks
As the safety and efficacy of energy drink consumption during lactation stand questionable, it is suggested that lactating mothers consider these safer alternatives.
- Go for a cup of coffee (not more than two cups a day) or tea. Small amounts of caffeine in them can boost your energy without harming your baby. This way, you can cut down on many herbal ingredients and loads of added sugars in energy drinks. Remember to limit your caffeine intake to 300mg a day.
Note: Even this little amount of caffeine can be too much for some infants. Just observe your baby and go as per his reaction.
- Try healthy and natural juices and soups with a well-balanced meal. They could help in keeping your energy quotient high, prevent dehydration, and boost your immunity. Follow a balanced diet, drink water, and get some sunlight to rejuvenate your body.
- Power naps could help in fighting weakness and gaining extra energy.
- Try and follow an exercise routine after consulting your doctor to build your stamina gradually.
Energy drinks, when consumed occasionally, might not be a problem, but their use during breastfeeding needs a doctor’s guidance. Just like pregnancy, breastfeeding is also a crucial phase where your diet has direct implications for your baby’s health. Thus, healthy eating, an active lifestyle, and some safe hacks could help you combat fatigue and stress.
How did you stay energetic as a lactating mom? Share your experience in the comments section below.
2. Waguih William Ishak et al.; Energy Drinks (Psychological Effects and Impact on Well-being and Quality of Life—A Literature Review); National Center For Biotechnology Information (2012)
3. Nahla Khamis Ibrahim and Rahila Iftikhar; Energy drinks: Getting wings but at what health cost?; National Center For Biotechnology Information (2014)
4. John P. Higgins et al.; Energy Beverages: Content and Safety; National Center For Biotechnology Information (2010)
5. Maternal Diet; Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (2019)
6. Breastfeeding and caffeine intake; Michigan State University
7. Caffeine Chart; Center for Science in the Public Interest
8. Michael I. Goran et al.; Fructose in Breast Milk Is Positively Associated with Infant Body Composition at 6 Months of Age; National Center For Biotechnology Information (2017)
9. Energy Drinks; Minnesota Department of Health
10. Taurine; Health Encyclopedia; University of Rochester
11. Ginseng; Drugs and Lactation Database; National Center For Biotechnology Information (2018)
12. Jean-Jacques Dugoua et al.; Safety and efficacy of Ginkgo (Ginkgo Biloba) during pregnancy and lactation; Research Gate (2006)
- Health Benefits Of Probiotics During Breastfeeding
- Is It Safe To Drink Coffee While Breastfeeding?
- Is It Safe To Drink Peppermint Tea While Breastfeeding?
- Is It Safe To Take Apple Cider Vinegar While Breastfeeding?