Healthy Energy Drinks

Many of us take energy drinks to boost our energy when having a long day in the office, after studying all night or just before an intense workout session. Some of the energy drinks that companies market to young adults include Cocaine, Monster Energy, Pimp Juice, Redbull, Full Throttle, Rage, and Rock Star. Most of the websites that promote these drinks have many images that portray macho lifestyles. They market the ingredients in the drinks as scientific but many customers have little information about the ingredients. Are there healthy energy drinks in the market?

What’s in the Energy Drinks?

1.  Caffeine

Most energy drinks contain 70-200mg of caffeine, which stimulates the central nervous systems, dilates blood vessels and makes the body alert. Caffeine also increases the blood pressure and heart rate, and dehydrates the body.

2.  Taurine

The taurine can regulate the heartbeat, energy levels, and contraction of muscles. And it can aslo enhance blood flow, lower cholesterol levels, and increase the supply of oxygen to heart cells.

3.  Glucuronolactone

Glururonolactone (DGL) is formed naturally in the body after the liver breaking down glucose. The functions of DGL include vitamin C biosynthesis, freeing chemicals & hormones, and detoxification. DGL is added to energy drinks to prevent glycogen depletion.

4.  B Vitamins

B Vitamins include niacin (B3), pyridoxine hydrochloride (B6), folic acid (B9), pantothenic acid (B5), cyanocobalamin (B12), and riboflavin (B2). They convert food into energy and are widely used as energy supplements. It is still unclear if the supplements increase energy levels.

5.  Sugars

The human body uses glucose as fuel. Energy drinks contain high amounts of sugar and hence increase energy levels. Sugars are carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are recommended for workouts that last more than hour.

6.  Guarana

Guarana contains 3-4% caffeine while Arabica coffee only contains 1-2% caffeine. While it differs from caffeine in that it also contains theophylline and theobromine molecules. Guarana is widely used to increase energy levels and alertness.

7.  Ginseng

Ginseng has been used as a medicinal herb for centuries. It is used to increase energy, relieve stress, reduce fatigue, and improve memory. It is believed to stimulate the pituitary and hypothalamic glands to release adrenal corticotropic hormone.

8.  L-Carnitine

The liver and kidneys create L-Carnitine naturally in the body. The amino acid increases energy levels and speeds up the metabolism. It also acts a thermogenic that helps in increasing endurance during workouts.

9.  Antioxidants

Antioxidants help the body to recover well and prevent cellular damages from free radicals. Some of the oxidants used in energy drinks include vitamin A, E and C. Vitamin C is the most popular antioxidants.

10. Yerba Mate

Yerba Mate is natural source of caffeine. The caffeine in Yerba Mate is believed to be healthier than that in guarana and coffee. Yerba Mate is popular in “all natural” energy drinks.

Click here to view options of natural healthy energy drinks.

Watch this video to learn what’s inside red bull:

Are Healthy Energy Drinks Really That Healthy? --Side Effects and Risks

Most energy drinks contain large amounts of caffeine, which can provide a temporary energy boost. Some energy drinks contain sugar and other substances. The boost is short-lived, however, and may be accompanied by other problems.

Side Effects

Energy drinks are more likely to cause side effects than other beverages because they contain many ingredients. The increased consumption of energy drinks among children and teenagers raises more safety concerns. Below is a list of side eeffects associated with over-consumption of energy drinks from the most common to the least common:

  • Shaking or tremor
  • Restlessness or agitation
  • Gastrointestinal upset
  • Ischaemia or chest pain
  • Syncope or dizziness
  • Paraesthesia
  • Insomnia
  • Distress in the respiratory systems
  • Headaches

Risks

  • Most energy drinks contain high amounts of sugar in form of cane sugar or fructose corn syrup. Drinks that contain high amounts of sugar are linked to obesity, tooth decay, and type 2 diabetes. The sugar in these drinks causes insulin and blood sugar spikes that lead to a crash-like feeling.
  • People have different levels of caffeine tolerance. Most people experience initial symptoms after taking more than 400mg of caffeine in a day. Higher dosages of caffeine cause high blood pressure, increased urination, allergic reactions, headaches and fatigue after withdrawal and heart palpitations.
  • Taking over 35mg of B3 (niacin) causes skin flushing while 3000mg or more will lead to liver toxicity. Taking over 100mg of B6 causes burning sensations or skin lesions.
  • Taking energy drinks with high blood pressure or heart disease may cause complications. Consult your doctor before taking any energy drink.

In Conclusion: You can take energy drinks occasionally but should limit your intake to 500ml or 16 ounces per day. Find healthier ways to boost your energy if you are constantly fatigued.

Alternatives to Energy Drinks

You can replace energy drinks with the following healthier alternatives:

1. Green Juices and Smoothies

Dark green vegetables like kales, parsley and spinach are rich in B vitamins, which can boost your metabolism. Your body produces energy faster when your metabolism is at peak. Eat whole foods to increase energy level and include vitamins in your diet to maintain high energy levels throughout the day.

2. Green Tea

Green tea contains less caffeine than coffee and hence is a healthier source of energy. Green tea improves mental performance and clarity, and reduces the risk of cancer and heart disease. It is a good alternative to coffee and energy drinks.

3. Protein Shakes

Lack of protein leads to fatigue. High quality protein shakes help your body reach its protein requirement. The protein shake must contain carbohydrates to be effective, and you can add wheat germ, fruit or quinoa to your protein shake. Use 10g of protein from milk, powder yogurt or soy milk to prepare it.

4. Water

Healthy energy drinks are actually very few in the market. Water is the best energy drink because all metabolic reactions in the body occur in water. The reactions slow down when we are dehydrated, which causes a sluggish feeling. If you find that it is hard to drink the plain water, you can improve the taste by adding strawberries, fruit slices or blue berries.

 
 
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