Everyday, many of us consume energy drinks at lunchtime in hopes of boosting afternoon performance. One energy drink maker specifically claims its product is your weapon for fighting that “2:30” fatigue. In addition, other manufacturers project cool images to establish themselves as a stylish way to stay energized. As fatigue sets in, you may be tempted to pop open that energy drink to recharge and keep going.
However, when you pour that high-powered potion into your body, what are you actually drinking? Are they tonic or toxic? How can you be smart about consuming these drinks? Let’s find out…
Know what’s in the can – That’s smart!
According to Consumer Reports and the University of California, Davis Department of Nutrition, energy drinks are charged with caffeine. Some brands also contain other exotic ingredients. The most common ones are guarana, panax ginseng and taurine. Others contain B-vitamins as major supplements. However, the benefit claims for many of these other ingredients have no, or very little, scientific evidence.
Know yourself before using energy drinks – That’s smart!
As is true for all powerful stuff on the market, for some people, these products are off-limits. Due to their ultra high caffeine content, energy drinks are not recommended to pregnant or nursing women. Among adolescents, energy drinks consumption is fairly wide spread. However, according to Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, “caffeine and other stimulant substances contained in energy drinks have no place in the diet of children and adolescents.” Other studies have shown that consuming more than 100mg of caffeine per day has been linked to high blood pressure in adolescents. Since there is limited data regarding the safety of energy drinks for children, it is smart to keep those drinks away from them either.
Mixing alcohol with energy drinks – Not smart!
Another interesting observation concerns the mixing energy drinks and alcohol. Studies show that despite the fact that you may not feel as drunk, your motor control and reaction time is just as lousy after drinking alcohol with or without energy drinks, and it is certainly unwise to think that you can still drive after heavy drinking just because you consumed some energy drinks. The highway patrol will be happy to measure your level of intoxication for you.
Using energy drinks to boost your work-out – That may not be smart!
According to the Nutrition and Health Info-Sheet published by the University of California – Davis, using caffeine is safe before exercise and an actually increase endurance; however, many of the effects of the added stimulants and supplements are still unclear. They may do more harm than good.
Know which brands to choose and which to avoid – That’s smart!
Consumer Reports points out that for a healthy adult, it is okay to consume up to 300mg of caffeine a day. So, it is alright to have an energy drink occasionally. However, with so many varieties in the market, which ones are good for us? In this area, I need to turn to some of the experts. For a full report on what brands of energy drinks to choose from–and what to avoid– you should get the book, Drink This Not That! For ordering information, click here.
Get informed and know when to stop – That’s smart!
- Read up on this stuff, like the book I recommend, Drink This Not That! and know which brands to pick and which to avoid.
- Pay no attention to the “benefits” of added herbal ingredients since many of the claims have very little, or no, scientific evidence to support them. Just go for the caffeine. In fact, the most studied ingredient is probably the caffeine.
- Always check the serving size, and use it as a multiplier to get the actual sugar content and calories.
- Select the lowest per-serving calories and sugar content possible
- Tally up your daily caffeine. If you also consume other forms of caffeinated beverages, over-the-counter drugs that contain caffeine, you need to add up all the caffeine and allow yourself a total of no more than 300mg of caffeine per day. Consume even less if the drinks contain other stimulants such as guarana or ginseng since they amplify the effects of caffeine.
- Choose the ones that clearly state the amount of caffeine. Since beverage companies have no standard way of disclosing caffeine contents on the can, you may need to look hard for this information. Therefore, choose the ones that clearly list caffeine content. You should know when you are at your limit.
Know your body, read the labels, and be smart about the actual contents of your drink. Remember, as the holiday chores are just around the corner, you can still harness the power of energy drinks safely as long as you make smart choices. That’s all for this week.
- Tools You Can Use – It contains a collection of great reads I have uncovered
- Drink This Not That!: The No-Diet Weight Loss Solution
- Some Facts about Energy Drinks, Nutrition and Health Info-sheet for Health Professionals, the University of California, Davis Department of Nutrition
- Clinical Report – Sports Drinks and Energy Drinks for Children and Adolescents: Are They Appropriate? Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics