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March 28, 2023
TikTok's Viral "Prime Drink": Is the Hype Worth the Side Effects?
If you have a teenager in your life, you’ve probably heard of Prime, the beverage that’s taking TikTok by storm.
Prime is a hydration drink from influencers Logan Paul and KSI. This bright, colorful drink claims to be healthier than all the other sports drinks out there. But is there any truth behind these claims?
In this blog post, we’ll examine the hidden truth behind this viral sensation and if your teen should really be drinking it.
So, Are Prime Drinks Actually Healthy?
The short answer: it’s complicated. The ingredients listed on the Prime drink packaging look healthy at first: the top two listed are filtered water and coconut water. But sucralose (an artificial sweetener) is listed just five ingredients later.
This artificial sweetener seems like a win, offering sweetness without the calories. But there are potential health effects to consider. This “high intensity sweetener,” invented in a lab, is anywhere from 400-700 times sweeter than sugar (1, 2, 3).
Sucralose can harm your gut, and there’s a lot we don’t know about its long-term effects. Because of this, many experts have reservations.
“[Sucralose] is approved by the FDA, but all artificial sweeteners raise an alert,” explains Katherine Gomez, a registered dietitian and medical reviewer. “Some animal studies have suggested that sucralose may have adverse effects on gut bacteria,” says Gomez.
So much so that “it can change your gut microbiome by lowering the number of good bacteria by HALF.” This can lead to other gut health issues like gas or bloating.
A main concern with sucralose is how much of it you consume. One bottle of Prime may just contain a small amount, but Prime is sold in 12 packs. Drinking 12 bottles of Prime within a week or two adds up to a lot of sucralose (on top of other products you may eat with sucralose). Most people do not keep their sucralose consumption low enough to avoid its health risks.
We don’t know a lot about the long-term effects of sucralose, because it hasn’t existed long enough. But what we do know so far may be cause for second thought.
4 Reasons Prime Drink Isn’t as Healthy as TikTok Thinks
Here are a few reasons you may want to think twice about Prime (and its sucralose content)…
1. Sucralose Can Increase Risk of Diabetes & Insulin Issues
If you (or your teen) doesn’t regularly consume sucralose, your blood sugar and insulin levels can skyrocket (4). And if sucralose is consumed alongside carbs, it may cause a decrease in insulin sensitivity (5).
Experts believe this is because sucralose and other artificial sweeteners taste sweeter than regular sugar. This may cause your body to develop insulin resistance, especially if it is consumed long-term. This can eventually lead to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes (6).
2. Sucralose Can Decrease Good Gut Bacteria
Wendy Lord, a registered dietitian and health writer, suggests keeping your sucralose intake at a minimum. “This artificial sweetener can disrupt the microbiome's health by off-balancing the bacteria found in the gut. Sucralose can decrease the good bacteria by up to 50%. An unhealthy gut can lead to several digestive problems, such as IBS.”
Lord also shares that sucralose is not well absorbed by our bodies. “Most of it is not digested or absorbed by the body, so a large amount of sucralose has to travel through the GI tract, which can possibly affect the intestinal walls and cause a leaky gut.”
3. Sucralose Can Decrease Your Energy
The sucralose in Prime drinks may make you tired! When sucralose is combined with carbs, it can impact your glucose metabolism. This is where your cells get their energy, so you may find yourself unexpectedly drowsy (8).
4. Excessive Caffeine Can be Addictive
Prime drinks also sell a Prime Energy Drink. Each can has 200 mg of caffeine, which is nearly double the amount of caffeine of other energy drinks. Excessive caffeine consumption can be addictive and cause insomnia, anxiety and depression, irregular heart rates, gastrointestinal disorders, and high blood pressure. Experts recommend around 300 mg of caffeine a day in healthy adults (19 years or older) and less than 100 mg a day in healthy teens (12–18 years old) (9). That’s less than a half a bottle of Prime!
The Bottom Line
Prime might look cool on the internet, but in reality it’s not particularly healthy. The sucralose in Prime Hydration and Prime Energy—and the high caffeine content in Prime Energy—can cause avoidable health issues like an increased risk for diabetes, leaky gut, and insomnia. Prime shouldn’t be relied on as a regular or healthy source of hydration or energy.
Instead, aim to drink half your body weight in water each day. And if you want flavor, add flavored collagen powders like Wild Berry or Peach.
Frequently Asked Questions
Prime vs. Gatorade: Is There a Difference?
While Prime includes sucralose, Gatorade also has ingredients to be wary of. For starters, Gatorade’s Zero Sugar varieties also include sucralose. Standard Gatorade, however, includes sucrose and dextrose. Sucrose, also known as table sugar, should be consumed sparingly.
As a writer, editor, and wellness seeker, Claire has written for Self, Health, Prevention, CNN, Mic, Livestrong, and Greatist, just to name a few. When she's not writing, she specializes in traveling, getting lost in health-related research rabbit holes, and finding new ways to spoil her cat.
This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Chad Walding nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement, or lifestyle program.