We all want to keep our energy levels up. To be able to work, play, and get the most out of life.
So when we’re feeling tapped out, it’s tempting to reach for energy in a can: Monster, Red Bull, Rockstar, Power Horse. The names are inventive and powerful. It’s no wonder that energy drinks are one of the marketing success stories of the last decade.
Unfortunately, they are not such a success story when it comes to health. If you’re downing these drinks, be sure to consider:
- Caffeine is the main stimulant ingredient in energy drinks. Caffeine comes from coffee beans and from other high-caffeine plants, including yerba mate and guarana. Healthy adults should keep caffeine consumption below 400 mg per day. For teens, the recommended limit is below 100 mg per day.
- Excess caffeine can trigger heart palpitations and high blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, you should avoid energy drinks altogether.
- Caffeine amounts in energy drinks vary wildly. When you buy a cola, you can be assured that the caffeine is limited to amounts generally recognized as safe by the FDA. When you buy an energy drink, there are no limits in the US. Want to know how much caffeine you’re getting? It may be on the label, or you may need to call or check the Internet. Be sure you know.
- Individuals have vastly different levels of tolerance to caffeine. What has a minimal effect on one person can cause another individual high anxiety, sleeplessness, and “the shakes.” Be sure you know how your body responds to caffeine, and set your own level of moderation.
Keep in mind that caffeine is a drug. For most people, moderation is the key. For others, even small amounts can create problems. If you use energy drinks, be sure you know how your body responds to the caffeine. Are you having problems sleeping? Feeling anxious? Is your blood pressure spiking? All could be traced to too much caffeine. Cut way back on your caffeine and see if your symptoms improve over time. If you have any questions or concerns, see your health coach.
Energy Drinks and Alcohol
Energy drinks shouldn’t be used as mixers with alcohol.
Energy drinks cover up the perception of intoxication … but not the effects. So drinkers believe they are less intoxicated than they really are.
And that’s not good. They think they’re fine, but the people around them can see that they’re really out of it.
Even people who have never had issues with alcohol can find themselves in bad shape when they mix alcohol with energy drinks. Their response times and coordination are shot from the alcohol, but the energy drink tells them they’re not intoxicated.
Another reason to avoid the mix? The dehydrating effect of the caffeine can make a hangover worse.
Go for Water
Nothing beats water for quenching thirst. No calories, no preservatives, no artificial sweeteners—it’s what your body wants!
If you’re watching your weight, be especially careful about drinking any sweet beverage. Sugar in energy drinks, pop, and even fruit juice causes insulin spikes and is quickly converted to stored fat. The jury’s still out on artificial sweeteners. But it seems that even no-calorie sweeteners can stimulate your appetite and change your metabolism in such a way that you put on pounds.
When you’re thirsty, go for water. Thirst is your body’s way of telling you that you’re dehydrated. And dehydration alone can sap your energy and make you feel tired. Perhaps all you need is water to get your energy back! The next time you need a boost, try water and see how your body likes it.