Have you ever been so tired that you felt like you needed a miracle just to get through the day? Of course you have, we’ve all been there. Energy drinks seem to be the ideal solution in these situations. They promise a quick fix to a pressing matter. Plus, they are extremely effective for the first few times too.
On the long term, however, they become less and less efficient and more and more dangerous for your health. Nonetheless, they remain extremely popular worldwide, in spite of their dangerous side effects.
What would make an energy drink perfect? Well, getting that buzz we’re in need of, but without those pesky side effects, obviously. Is that possible? Do they even make healthy energy drinks?
This is exactly what you wanted to find out. And the short answer is yes, they actually do. But the healthy version might not be exactly what you have in mind. Forget the sugary sweet caffeinated concoctions you’re used to and try to be open minded because you’re in for quite the surprise.
In order to fully understand why a healthy alternative to energy drinks is so necessary, we’re going to tell you a bit about the dark side of traditional energy drinks. Take a look!
What Are Energy Drinks?
Well, as the name clearly states, they are drinks that provide those who consume them with a sudden spike in energy. They come in quite a wide variety of forms. Here are the most popular choices:
Caffeine-Based Energy Drinks
From the regular cup of Joe we all have every single morning and all the way to strong black teas, these caffeine-rich beverages are a blessing when you find yourself in need of an energy boost. The effect comes only a few moments after you drink them and you feel amazing.
Sugar-Based Energy Drinks
Have you ever heard of a sugar rush? Well, this is exactly what you get from sugary drinks. From sodas and all the way to complex lattes, you have an abundance of options to choose from. They give you an immense amount of energy and leave you with a delicious aftertaste.
Caffeine and Sugar-Based Energy Drinks
In this category, we can include highly sweetened coffee drinks and cola-based sodas. The most popular ones, however, are bottled energy drinks. From Monster Energy drink to Rockstar and Red Bull, there are a lot of options for you out there. These are the most powerful ones because they contain a huge amount of sugar and caffeine, as well as other substances that increase its energy-providing effects.
What You Typically Find in Bottled Energy Drinks
While the exact recipe differs from one brand to another, these are the main substances you can find in bottled energy drinks:
Sugar: Lots of It
This is actually the main component of bottled energy drinks. They will give you that immediate sugar rush that is usually enough to get you going.
Bottled energy drinks include almost as much caffeine as sugar. The caffeine can make the energy last for as long as five or six hours, so it is the second main ingredient.
This is an organic acid found in muscle tissue. Contrary to popular belief, energy drinks do not contain any animal-based substances. While the substance was first isolated in bovine bile, science has come a very long way since. Rest assured that the taurine in energy drinks is 100% synthetic. It is a great antioxidant and it can actually work as a mood stabilizer.
This complex carbohydrate is also found in muscle tissue (myo-inositol) and it has been found to reduce the symptoms of depression, anxiety, panic attacks, agoraphobia, and even OCD.
This naturally occurring substance is used in energy drinks because it can fight fatigue and increase well-being in people who consume it.
- Sodium Citrate
This substance is typically used to treat acidosis and it has been known to boost athletic performances.
The Dark Side of Energy Drinks
Even if you are a completely healthy person, a long-term habit of using energy drinks as a cure for your fatigue could make you considerably less healthy. The buzz you get from these drinks comes at quite a high price.
The sugar in energy drinks comes in the form of fructose, sucrose, and glucose. In the vast majority of products, it comes from high fructose corn syrup. The main reason why this is clearly not good for you on the long-term is that it will get you fat. Your body will metabolize the fructose and it will deposit as an energy source. Consumed in high quantities, it leads to weight gain and fat deposition.
That energy boost we get from coffee is amazing. However, as we all know, it is also short-lived. Plus, the spike in energy is usually followed by a crash, leaving us tired and unfocused. The obvious solution for this is to drink more coffee. On the other hand, this usually leads to tremors and a general feeling of unease, and all without an energy boost similar to the initial one.
The Enhancing Substances in Bottled Energy Drinks
While these substances may have some favorable effects on their own, almost none of these can be obtained from consuming bottled energy drinks. The main reason is that there is simply not enough of them in these products for those effects to be reached. For example, you would probably have to drink as many as 350 cans of Red Bull to get enough inositol to fight the symptoms of depression.
Energy Drinks Health Risks that You Need To Be Aware Of
While one can of Red Bull or Monster will not harm a healthy person, long-term consumption could lead to some dangerous conditions. These are the main energy drink side effects:
- Cardiovascular Conditions – from increased heart rate to high blood pressure and even cardiac arrest;
- Increased Anxiety;
- Type 2 Diabetes;
- Respiratory Distress;
Energy Drinks and Alcohol – a Very Dangerous Combination
This is a very popular mix among young people who want the party to last a little bit longer. However, it is extremely dangerous because the energy boost generated by the caffeine masks the effect of the alcohol. Thus, people don’t realize the full extent of their inebriation and continue to drink larger amounts of alcohol than they normally would.
The Healthiest Energy Drinks You Can Get
After everything we have mentioned above, you might be tempted to think that there is no such thing as a healthy energy drink. Fortunately, there are quite a few all-natural energy drinks out there. They can actually give you that buzz without the cascade of side effects that comes after. Take a look at our suggestions!
Coffee can have extremely beneficial effects when it is consumed correctly. It will leave you feeling energized, it will improve your focus, and it will actually get you into a very good mood because it increases the production of dopamine. Moreover, it is an excellent diuretic and a mild laxative, which makes the ideal drink for mornings. Here are the two golden rules that you need to abide by!
- Do not drink too much coffee!
The vast majority of the negative effects of coffee are caused by excessive consumption. If you manage to stick to the recommended daily amount, which is 400 mg of caffeine, you will be able to enjoy this delicious beverage for a long time with minimum side effects.
Just so you can visualize this, you can find 400 mg of caffeine in 5 2-oz espresso shots and 4.7 8-oz cups of filter coffee.
- Always have water with your coffee!
Coffee is a mild laxative, but an extremely potent diuretic. Therefore, drinking your coffee alone can leave you mildly dehydrated. This can be easily resolved by drinking water during or after you have the coffee. This is actually why coffee is typically served together with a glass of water.
Tea is an excellent choice for a healthy energy boost. And there are a lot of delicious options for you out there. Here are our top suggestions!
- Black Tea;
- Yerba Mate Chai;
- Green Tea;
- Rooibos Tea;
- Turmeric Tea;
- Ginger Tea.
Juices are the healthiest energy drink out there because they contain little or no caffeine or sugar, but they are extremely rich in vitamins and antioxidants. If you think that making juice is time-consuming and inaccessible, then we suggest that you buy it from stores that specialize in juices.
You can even find bottled juices at the supermarket. So, the next time you find yourself reaching for a Redline energy drink, try the juice aisle instead!