Dr. Joe Schwarcz: Why mixing alcohol, sugar and caffeine can be a bad idea

Dr. Joe Schwarcz: Why mixing alcohol, sugar and caffeine can be a bad idea


Not exactly what you would expect to see
in a chemistry professors office, right? I don’t know why not. We’re looking at a
bunch of chemicals here mostly ethanol in this one and a whole batch of
chemicals in here. Now first a disclaimer: I have never in my life
tasted this particular beverage. I have never tasted Red Bull. Why are we talking
about it? Well, we’re talking about it because a question has arisen about the
wisdom of mixing a beverage that contains caffeine, which is Red Bull, with
alcohol. Why? Because of a possible cross reaction between caffeine and alcohol.
Well first a little bit about Red Bull. What is it? It is called an energy drink.
What does I really mean? Well on scientific terms energy really refers to
the calorie content of a beverage, but they’re using it in different context.
They’re using it…sort of it can rev you up and it’s supposed to rev up your mind, it’s
supposed to rev up your body. How so? What are the real ingredients in here:
there’s a great deal of sugar, at least as much sugar as you would get in a soft
drink, so we were talking about 40 grams of sugar or something like that,
there’s also caffeine the amount of caffeine is roughly equivalent to what
you would get in a big cup of coffee, then there’s some taurine. Now taurine is
a biochemical that is found in in humans, it’s found in in in animals and as far
as I know when I looked at all the studies, it doesn’t have any energy producing
benefits. Why is it put in there? I suspect because this chemical was first
isolated from bull bile and bull well bulls are strong so this is supposed to
create an image of strength, you know strong as a bull. So they put in taurine.
There are also some B vitamins but they don’t give you any extra energy so the
real energy they’re talking about here is is caffeine. Alright, well what about
alcohol? The mixing of caffeine with alcohol, that
could conceivably be a problem because caffeine of course is a stimulant
whereas alcohol is a central nervous system depressant so it is very, very
possible that someone who mixes a caffeinated beverage with an alcoholic
beverage will not feel as drunk as they otherwise would because the caffeine
keeps stimulating them. Okay, well anyway I said I’ve never tasted
this thing before so what we’re looking at here is a world first as you can see
I don’t even know how to open properly. Alright so we’ve got some red Bull
here so sugar, caffeine, taurine, B vitamins. Here’s our chemical experiment
first time ever. Doesn’t really stimulate me to drink any more. Maybe if you put in a bit of alcohol. Of course we’re talking about a little bit and we’re not talking about a lot of Red Bull. In fact, it says on the bottle do not mix with alcohol,
which of course to many people says “yeah let’s go out and do that.” It also says limit
one drink a day of of Red Bull. Alright so what about this combo? Yeah, I don’t
drink on the job. Neither should you. And always be careful
about the amount of alcohol that you drink I don’t think that mixing a little
bit of Red Bull with a little bit of vodka is any great risk but doing more
than that potentially is but I still wouldn’t worry about drinking an
Irish coffee when it comes to St. Patrick’s Day.

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6 thoughts on “Dr. Joe Schwarcz: Why mixing alcohol, sugar and caffeine can be a bad idea”

  • This drink was real popular back when I first started drinking. I remember trying to caution a lady who seemed to like them. I had heard of people dying from combining these two too much. She was a small person, and it seemed like she could over do it easily.

  • Vodkabull drinker here…. tbh never felt enything bad of it i am a 27 german male with bit of overweight of course theres a couple of blackouts that in my case ie is more like i was doing something and after while am doing another thing with out knowing dafck did just happen lots of fun tho ive drink this combo cuz next day am really well no hangover at all even better if i drink tons of bier u know german stereotype… the bad thing about the combo is super addictive ive went to drink from 4 glasses to bottle and half with a sixpack of redbulls in one night alone every week