Take drinks like Red Bull, for example. Despite all of the warnings against using energy drinks in general, sales have not taken much of a hit, the UK’s Daily Mail reports. Whether people drink them to stay alert at work, while driving or just wanting a caffeine high mixed with alcoholic spirits, millions of people drink them daily – and many of them more than one a day.
But these folks very likely have no idea what they’re putting in their bodies. Now, however, thanks to data assembled by the gift site Personalise, there is a step-by-step, minute-by-minute guide that shows what happens to our bodies after consuming an energy drink – over 10 minutes, two hours and even up to 12 days later.
The data comes just weeks after a study found that Red Bull used as an alcoholic mixture has the same effect on a teenager’s brain as cocaine.
The same as a Class A drug, the energy drink-alcohol cocktail has a highly damaging effect on the chemical balance of the brain that will last a very long time – into adulthood.
Side effects steadily worsen
According to the data put together by Personalise, this is what happens to the body after consuming an energy drink:
First 10 minutes: The outsized dose of caffeine begins to permeate the body via the bloodstream, and as such the heart rate begins to climb.
15-45 minutes later: If the drink is consumed quickly, you will begin feeling more alert and concentrated within 15 minutes; those who drink more slowly are not likely to feel the effects for about 40 minutes.
30-50 minutes later: By this time, the complete absorption of caffeine has occurred, leading to dilated pupils, rising blood pressure and the liver releasing more sugar into the bloodstream. The adenosine receptors in the brain are now blocked, thereby preventing drowsiness.
Blood sugar spiking occurs, which then leads to a subsequent burst in the release of insulin, to counteract the sugar. The liver further responds by turning any sugar it can find into fat – and there is plenty to be found.
1 hour later: The body begins to experience a huge sugar crash, and the diminishing effects of the caffeine as levels recede from their rapid peak. The feeling of tiredness begins to increase as energy levels begin to crash as well.
In addition, all of the water that was in the can of Red Bull has been vanquished through urination. But first, the water infused that contained any valuable nutrients that the body could have used to hydrate itself and strengthen bones have also been washed out.
5-6 hours later: This is the point where the caffeine from the energy drink has reached its half-life in the body. For women who take birth control pills, it takes 10 hours.
12 hours later: This is how long it takes for most people to completely process all caffeine out of their body. But the speed at which this happens is also largely dependent on age and other factors like metabolism and physical activity.
12-24 hours later: At this point, the body begins to suffer mild withdrawal symptoms, which can include nervousness, sweating, anxiety and sleeplessness. But after about a day, the body will be in the mood for another. Then another. And when the body becomes used to a daily, if not more regular, fix, it will begin to feel lethargic and distressed. Headaches will become frequent, as will constipation.
7-12 days later: During this timeframe, studies have indicated that your body becomes more tolerant of the extra caffeine. But that means the body has gotten used to the boost, so it doesn’t feel the effects the same. That generally leads to even more energy drink consumption, which, as we have reported, is horrible for your health.