We’ve officially entered the Era of the Energy Drink. The energy drink industry, comprised of energy drinks, energy shots and energy drink mixes is a multi-billion dollar industry. It makes sense, we’re over-scheduled, over-extended, run down and absolutely exhausted. We need that caffeine in our lives- we deserve it!
Do we really need it? Is more caffeine really the solution to improved energy?
As it turns out, most of the “energy” in key players such as Red Bull, Monster and Rockstar is coming from two main ingredients: caffeine and sugar. A 12oz can of Red Bull contains 111 milligrams of caffeine (the equivalent of drinking a 12oz cup of coffee), and 37g of sugar (more than your recommended daily allowance).
Sugar, as we are well aware has absolutely zero positive return (aside from the pleasure factor), and is best avoided.
What about sugar-free?
Perhaps worse I’m afraid. Chemically manufactured sugar substitutes such as aspartame (Equal), saccharin (Sweet ‘N Low), sucralose (Splenda) and stevia (Truvia) have been linked to a variety of health issues including weight gain and disruption of metabolism.
The bottom line: Energy drinks are designed more for taste than effectiveness.
Caffeine, in moderation may have the ability to combat: asthma, gallbladder disease, ADHD, and high blood pressure. It also serves to aid in weight-loss, improve mental alertness and boost athletic performance. However, habitual use may have the reverse effect, potentially causing: insomnia, restlessness, increased heart rate and high blood pressure.
The bottom line: Caffeine is a band-aid. It provides temporary relief to an underlying issue.
Essentially, energy drinks function the same way. They provide a temporary burst of energy, generally resulting in a crash. When consumed regularly, they lose their luster- eventually draining energy rather than replenishing it.
If sugar-free is dangerous, and organic caffeine is simply caffeine…what is the best option?
- Slow Down– Honor your body. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Nap when you can. Incorporate restorative practices such as yoga and meditation into your daily or weekly routine. Allow yourself rest and recovery. Practice self-love and acceptance.
- Fuel Properly– Eating nutrient-rich, whole food products promotes peak performance. This is especially important at lunch time if you suffer from a mid-day crash. Consuming empty calories leads to fatigue and mental fog. Remember, food is fuel. Eat with intention.
- Reach for healthier alternatives–
- Guayaki, Yerba Mate– Yerba Mate is made from the naturally caffeinated and nourishing leaves of the South American holly tree. With the “strength of coffee, the health benefits of tea, and the euphoria of chocolate,” Yerba Mate is a wonderful alternative to popular energy drinks.
- Matcha Green Tea– Historically, Matcha has been used by Buddhist Monks in Japan during meditation practices for it’s calming effect. Oddly enough, Matcha contains a considerable amount of caffeine. The natural energy boost yields calm collectivity rather than the jittery explosion often experienced with manufactured caffeinated products. Research studies show that the health benefits of Matcha are numerous, some of which include: reduced stress, increased immunity and improved focus and concentration.
- Runa Clean Energy– Guayusa, the main ingredient in Runa Clean Energy is an Amazonian super-leaf naturally packed with caffeine, polyphenols and 15 essential amino acids. Guayusa provides clean, focused energy.