Energy drinks have been one of the fastest growing segments of the beverage industry, fueled by high-impact marketing targeting young people.
And while they were not originally designed to be mixed with alcohol, much of the marketing activity surrounding energy drinks promotes their consumption in bars and clubs, where consumers are looking for increased stamina for late nights.
According to UK-based consultancy Zenith International, an estimated 64 per cent of energy drink sales in Europe last year was generated by away from home consumption through bars, clubs and petrol stations. This was confirmed in a survey by a Brazilian team in which three quarters of those surveyed said they drink Red Bull in order to ‘reduce’ alcohol depressant effects or to ‘increase’ the alcohol stimulant.
But following up the survey with a trial on 14 men, the same researchers report that energy drinks failed to improve physical performance in a cycling test when consumed with alcohol.
“I think the main message of our study is that this kind of beverage, at least in the tested doses, does not increase people’s performance in physical activities or reduce alterations induced by acute alcohol ingestion” said author Maria Lucia O. Souza Formigoni, associate professor at the Federal University of Paulo in Brazil.