The only energy drink I remember from growing up is Lucozade, and it is still very much around.
In recent years there has been an explosion of new brands of energy drinks on the market and these have created a whole new trend amongst adults and kids.
What is in your energy drink?
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Recently I was putting together a nutrition plan for a friend taking on a challenge to climb Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for charity. Within it I created natural energy/electrolyte boosting drinks.
It got me wondering.. what ingredients were in energy drinks and exactly how good are they for the body? Do they really do the job of boosting energy?
The main ingredients in energy drinks are caffeine, taurine, sugar, guarana, ginseng, B-vitamins and other sweeteners and additives.
Caffeine is the main ingredient and the amounts used vary greatly between brands.
To put this into perspective, a cup of coffee contains up to 80g of caffeine, can of coke about 30g while energy drinks contain over 70g of caffeine – wow, that sure is a lot of caffeine!
The sugar content in energy drinks could be as high as 16g of sugar (which is about 20 teaspoons) per 500ml and this is consumed every day by adults and kids. The guidelines for total daily sugar consumption given by the World Health Organization is 25g (6 teaspoons).
This means an individual who consumes a can of energy drink has already consumed more than half the recommended amount.
When you add sugars from food and other drinks that are consumed through the day, they are well over the recommendation by far and this leads to a whole host of health problems and disease.
Taurine is one of the most common amino acids in the body. It can support brain development and regulate the body’s mineral and water levels.
Taurine is found naturally in meat, seafood and milk. Here’s the thing with taurine in energy drinks – studies show that taurine in energy drinks is higher than in normal diets.
However, there is no evidence that this is unhealthy, neither is there evidence that consuming high amounts is of benefit to the body.
Guarana is a plant-based product that has effects similar to caffeine including anxiety, heart palpitations and insomnia.
Studies suggest that B-vitamins can improve mood and help fight heart disease and cancer, but the amount in energy drinks is not adequate to have any substantial effect.
Some energy drinks also contain sweeteners such as AcesulfameK and Aspartame, which have been shown to have neurotoxic, metabolic, allergenic and carcinogenic effects.
So to answer the question – Do energy drinks really boost energy?
The effects of energy drinks are similar to what you get drinking coffee in the sense that when the effects start to wear off, you feel tired, lethargic and will tend to crave more of the drink or any product containing sugar to boost energy.
This becomes a continuous cycle which is difficult to get off if you’re constantly consuming the same thing.
Energy drinks offer very little nutritional benefits to the body.
Yes, there are traces of B-vitamins and taurine but this certainly cannot make up for the detrimental effects of caffeine and sugar.
New use of energy drinks
The use of energy drinks has been taken to a whole different level where they are being mixed with alcohol, which is increasingly popular in restaurants, bars and clubs.
The combined effects of these substances are unknown, but researchers say overloading the body with heavy stimulants could lead to heart failure, headaches/migraines, increased anxiety, increased insulin levels and other numerous problems.
Boost energy naturally
Humans are not meant to be sluggish or constantly feel tired. And when you do feel tired, there are other ways to boost energy naturally without having to resort to loading up on energy drinks.
The first thing to do is try to figure out why you lack energy and this could be due to:
– Poor food choices
– Consuming low-quality, processed foods
– Stressful lifestyle
– Lack of sleep
– Lack of exercise
Increase your energy levels by:
1. Eating a healthy, balanced diet comprising of protein, complex carbohydrates, good fats and fibre
2. Limit sugar, fructose and processed foods
3. Increase your intake of animal-based omega-3 fats to support your energy levels
5. Sleep is very important so sleep when tired, 7 – 8 hours of quality sleep
6. Exercise at least 3-4 times a week for minimum 30 minutes
7. If you need supplements along with the above steps, go for those that increase your mitochondrial level such as vitamin B12 and magnesium.
Try these steps to boost your energy levels and also keep them on an even keel, naturally so you don’t have to reach for energy drinks that would do more harm than good.
I wish you peace and fabulous health.
Connect with Expert Gloria Halim