Being pregnant can be exhausting. During the first trimester, one of the main symptoms is utter fatigue; during the third trimester, lugging around the extra baby weight will leave any soon-to-be mama dragging. It's tempting to reach for an energy drink to perk yourself up, but the amount of caffeine, sugar and sodium in each can should make you think twice 1.
Effect of Excess Caffeine
It’s tough to give up caffeine during pregnancy, but you should at least limit yourself for the health of your baby 2. According to a survey from Consumer Reports, an energy drink can contain up to 242 milligrams of caffeine per serving, compared to 100 milligrams per 8 ounces of regular coffee 1. The American Pregnancy Association says that caffeine can cross the placenta to your baby, who cannot fully metabolize the compound, and interfere with her sleep patterns 28. However, no studies have been done on humans to determine if caffeine causes birth defects, the association notes. Moderate levels of caffeine are deemed safe for pregnant women, although what’s considered “moderate” varies from 150 milligrams to 300 milligrams a day.
Facts About Monster Energy Drinks
As with caffeine, the amount of sugar in each energy drink varies by brand; however, it’s comparable to a sugary soda, with one brand providing 37 grams of sugar in every 12 ounces 1. Despite the misconception that pregnancy is a time during which a woman can eat or drink whatever she wants without worrying about gaining weight, women should watch their intake of added sugars to avoid excess weight gain, reports MedlinePlus 27. This excess sugar can be particularly problematic for women who have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes and must manage their insulin levels. Some energy drinks use artificial sweeteners instead of sugar. According to the American Pregnancy Association, most artificial sweeteners are safe to use during pregnancy -- with the exception of saccharin -- but you should speak with your doctor before consuming them in significant amounts 28.
Effects of Sodium
Generally speaking, the average pregnant woman doesn’t need to restrict her sodium intake, according to Dr. Laura Riley of "Parents" magazine 9. However, during the latter stages of pregnancy, a pregnant woman might start to retain fluid because of sodium consumption, making cutting back a good idea for both her comfort and her health. One 12-ounce can of one brand of energy drink contains more than 300 milligrams of sodium, making eliminating energy drinks an easy way to cut back. Instead, drink plenty of water to flush out excess sodium and make those swollen ankles go down.
- Generally speaking, the average pregnant woman doesn’t need to restrict her sodium intake, according to Dr. Laura Riley of "Parents" magazine 9.
- However, during the latter stages of pregnancy, a pregnant woman might start to retain fluid because of sodium consumption, making cutting back a good idea for both her comfort and her health.
Boost Your Energy
How to Get a Sugar Rush
Rather than rely on energy drinks to keep up your strength during pregnancy, focus on consuming nutritious foods 5. Your body needs about 300 extra calories a day while you’re pregnant, and failing to eat enough can easily leave you dragging. Complex carbohydrates help pep you up, too, so pair your protein with whole-grain crackers and breads as well as fresh fruits and vegetables. If you’re anemic, the lack of iron in your body could be keeping you fatigued, so eat plenty of iron-fortified cereals, spinach and lean meats.
- Rather than rely on energy drinks to keep up your strength during pregnancy, focus on consuming nutritious foods 5.
- If you’re anemic, the lack of iron in your body could be keeping you fatigued, so eat plenty of iron-fortified cereals, spinach and lean meats.
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- Consumer Reports: The Buzz on Energy-Drink Caffeine
- American Pregnancy Association: Caffeine Intake During Pregnancy
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Beverages, MONSTER Energy Drink, Low Carb
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Energy Drink, RED BULL, with Added Caffeine, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Vitamins B6 and B12
- What to Expect: Energy Foods During Pregnancy
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Energy Drink, Monster
- Medline Plus: Managing Your Weight Gain During Pregnancy
- American Pregnancy Association: Artificial Sweeteners and Pregnancy
- Parents.com: Your Sodium Intake
- Zaragoza J, Tinsley G, Urbina S, et al. Effects of acute caffeine, theanine and tyrosine supplementation on mental and physical performance in athletes. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2019;16(1):56. doi:10.1186/s12970-019-0326-3
- Higashi Y. Coffee and endothelial function: A coffee paradox? Nutrients. 2019;11(9). doi: 10.3390/nu11092104
- Temple JL, Bernard C, Lipshultz SE, Czachor JD, Westphal JA, Mestre MA. The safety of ingested caffeine: A comprehensive review. Front Psychiatry. 2017;8:80. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2017.00080
- National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens. Is caffeine really addictive? Updated 2020.
- The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Moderate caffeine consumption during pregnancy. Updated 2016.
- Kids Health from Nemours. Caffeine. Updated 2017.
- Beydoun MA et. al. Caffeine and alcohol intakes and overall nutrient adequacy are associated with longitudinal cognitive performance among U.S. adults. The Journal of Nutrition. 2014;144(6);890-901. doi:10.3945/jn.113.189027
Kelsey Casselbury has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Penn State-University Park. She has a long career in print and web media, including serving as a managing editor for a monthly nutrition magazine and food editor for a Maryland lifestyle publication. She also owns an Etsy shop selling custom invitations and prints.