The Dangers of Energy Drinks: St. Louis Rams LT Rodger Saffold's Near-Fatal Experience

July 6, 2012

Energy drinks are generally formulated to deliver high concentrations of caffeine to generate a rush of energy.

This may be OK for the 9-to-5 desk jockey who needs extra oomph to get through the afternoon; but for the high-performing athlete grinding through an intense workout, a caffeine rush can cause dehydration, which can increase body temperature and heart rate.

As Dr. Lori Bestervelt reports in her article, “Raising a Red Flag on Some Energy Drinks,” some energy drinks pose even higher risks due to the effects of other stimulants, such as guarana, green tea and ginseng. “When multiple stimulants are combined in one beverage, serious cardiovascular issues can occur," she states.

Rodger Saffold, St. Louis Rams left tackle and blindside protector of franchise quarterback Sam Bradford, knows all too well about those serious cardiovascular issues.

Saffold shared his story as a guest panelist at the National Athletic Trainers Association’s 63rd Annual Meeting and Clinical Symposium. According to, the former Indiana Hoosier recalled a summer training session between his sophomore and junior years where, following a weightlifting session, his workout group decided to run the bleacher steps at Memorial Stadium.

After 10 sets, Saffold said, “I had chest pains, which I thought were just part of being tired.”

Saffold consulted with the team athletic trainer, who determined that he could be on the verge of cardiac arrest. The trainer sprung into action, putting Saffold in a cold shower to lower his body temperature while also working to steady his breathing. It took 15 minutes for Saffold’s heart rate to return to normal. The trainer’s quick response may have saved his life.

Subsequent testing revealed that Saffold’s rapid heart rate stemmed from fatigue, overexertion and a large dose of caffeine-laced energy drinks.

The lesson in Saffold’s story? Energy drinks are not a replacement for sports drinks. Going further, we can conclude that there is no place for caffeinated energy drinks in relation to training, games and competition.

Kick the caffeine habit and discover the best sports drink options to suit your fueling and performance needs. And view the video above to learn about Sam Bradford's hydration strategy.


Topics: NEWS
Zac Clark
- Zac Clark is STACK Media's Custom Content Manager. Prior to joining STACK in September 2008, he served as an editorial assistant for USA Hockey Magazine...
Zac Clark
- Zac Clark is STACK Media's Custom Content Manager. Prior to joining STACK in September 2008, he served as an editorial assistant for USA Hockey Magazine...
Must See
Peyton Manning Dumbbell Bench With 80+ Pounds
Views: 36,976,813
Brandon Jennings: "Always Improve"
Views: 4,083,729
Why NFL Wide Receiver DeSean Jackson Counts His Blessings
Views: 5,996,439

Featured Videos

A Day in the Life of NBA D-League Star Seth Curry Views: 68,298
Kevin Love's Cone Hop Basketball Shooting Drill Views: 6,362
Eastbay Path to the Pros Episode 2: Laying the Groundwork Views: 127,960
Load More


STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers


Latest issues of STACK Magazine


Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice


Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes


Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Perfect Dwyane Wade's Signature Euro Step
Views: 1,308,654
What Ryan Hall Eats for Breakfast
Views: 795,206
STACK Fitness Weekly: How To Do a Muscle-Up
Views: 778,612
Greg Nixon's Hill Training Program
Views: 705,718
Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift
Views: 1,559,831

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

Avoid Dehydration During Your Next Hockey Game

Beat the Heat During Training With These Hydration Strategies

Elements of Proper Hydration

Hydration: Follow the Rules That Help Your Performance

An Athlete's Guide to Late-Summer Dehydration

4 Hydration Rules for Football Players

Living the #JugLife: Javale McGee Wants You to Drink More Water

Best Pre-Workout Energy Drink? You May Be Pleasantly Surprised!

BPA: Health Hazard In Your Water Bottle?

Compare 3 of the Most Popular Hydration Backpacks

Beat the Heat: Hydrate with Lemon

Winter Dehydration: Are You At Risk?

Not Just for Drinking: Use Water to Avoid Getting Sick

Electrolytes Explained

How to Hydrate With Food

Selecting Fluids to Enhance Soccer Performance

Will This Edible Blob Replace Your Water Bottle?

Staying Hydrated for Basketball

How to Schedule Your Hydration

4 Ways to Carry Backpack Hydration

Healthy Hydration for Hockey Players

Opinion: Your Post-Workout Recovery Nutrition Should Be Liquid

New Gatorade Montage Counts 50 Years of Fueling Athletes

Too Much of a Good Thing: The Danger of Over-Hydration

Healthy Hydration for Track & Field Athletes

Why Pedialyte Is a Good Source of Hydration for Hockey Players

12 Must-Know Hydration Rules for Athletes

How Much Water Should Athletes Drink Every Day?

Hydration Guidelines for Volleyball Players

Ask the Experts: Am I Drinking Too Much Water?

Cutting Weight for Wrestling: 3-Step Sodium Strategy

Drinking for Sport Performance

Surviving Football Hell Week: A Nutrition Guide

Hydrate With...Pickle Juice?

Chocolate Milk after Workouts

I Hate Water: Healthy Alternatives to H2O

Weight Loss and Other Benefits of Staying Hydrated

6 Effective Drinks for Athletes

Powerade Removes Controversial Ingredient

7 Rules for Keeping Hydrated

How to Stay Hydrated When It's Hot and Humid

Benefits of Coconut Water for Athletes

Hydration Inside the Race Car

This Ebola Treatment Sounds a Lot Like Your Sports Drink