Energy drinks are a popular and somewhat controversial source of caffeine and energy, often synonymous with drinks like Red Bull and Monster. Often containing sugar and artificial ingredients, energy drinks are not the best choice to make for healthy lifestyles. Still, many people crack open an energy drink in hopes of a big boost in energy, especially if they’re not coffee drinkers. But how long do energy drinks last? There are two ways to look at this question and we will cover both: shelf life and caffeine/energy levels.
Energy Drinks and Shelf Life
When it comes to energy drinks, preservatives are almost always on the ingredients list. There are many reasons why companies choose to use preservatives and achieving longer shelf life is one of them. Before reaching for that old energy drink in the back of your fridge, check to see if it’s been opened or if it’s closed.
Unopened Energy Drink Shelf Life
The average shelf-life companies will stand by is typically around 6 to 9 months, as long as the can is either at room temperature out of sunlight or in the refrigerator. While they may not suggest drinking it past the date on the can, the typical energy drink is usually still safe to drink past that date. That said, we don’t recommend consuming anything past the two-year mark for safety reasons.
Cans in hot temperatures or in direct sunlight for extended periods of time will lose their flavor and quality over time. There’s also a chance that an energy drink can explode from pressure due to the heat, which is why you should always store it in a cabinet, pantry, or refrigerator.
Opened Energy Drink Shelf Life
An opened energy drink can is a completely different story, for a variety of reasons. Companies will usually suggest drinking it within 5 to 7 days, but the carbonation will most likely dissipate within 24 hours without being resealed. If you have an opened can in your fridge and it’s been less than a week, it’s typically safe to drink. Otherwise, it’s best to toss it.
However, if an energy drink is open and not in the refrigerator, we recommend throwing it away. Opened containers of liquid need refrigeration to maintain freshness, so an energy drink that’s been opened and at room temperature for longer than a day should be discarded.
Energy Drinks and Energy
The second possible answer to the question, ‘How long do energy drinks last?’ is about caffeine energy levels. In other words, how long are the stimulating effects of energy drinks, and how much caffeine is in them? Let’s look at the typical timeframe of caffeine’s effects on the body:
How Long Does the Caffeine in Energy Drinks Last?
While energy drink companies love to market their drinks as practically never-ending energy, these sugar-loaded drinks typically have a peak of 2 to 3 hours at most. Within 15 to 45 minutes, the caffeine will cause quite a noticeable spike in energy and focus. After the 2 to 3-hour peak of energy, the energy boost will fade and sometimes result in a total caffeine crash.
Although it’s a short length of time that you’ll experience a boost, the caffeine and other stimulants can stay in your system for much longer. It can stay in your system for up to 10 to 12 hours, which is much longer than the actual boost of energy. That means you should think twice about reaching for that energy drink before an evening workout. Otherwise, you may find yourself exhausted but somehow awake in the middle of the night.
Energy drinks can be a quick and convenient caffeine fix, even though they usually contain less than desirable ingredients. They also have a long shelf life, while providing a strong but short boost of energy. Safety and health are always a priority, whether you’re talking about the shelf-life or the caffeine lifespan in an energy drink. When in doubt, throw it out and buy a new can. Or, if you’re worried about the high caffeine content, switch to tea for less crash and a steadier flow of energy.
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