Energy drinks are a huge business in the beverage industry. They claim to increase energy and enhance athletic performance. Many people, including teenagers, fall for the marketing strategies of these drinks. They seem to believe that energy drinks are necessary during/after workout or at anytime when they need a quick boost of energy.
Energy Drink Ingredients
- carbonated water
- high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
- artificial flavours
- food colouring
- other additives: guarana, taurine, vitamins, herbal supplement
Energy Drinks Side Effects
HFCS and sugar are high in calories but with no nutritional value. They promote fat gain and prevent fat loss.
They cause spike in insulin levels and belly fat storage. You’ll experience a short burst of energy followed by a crash.
When you consume energy drink before or during your workout, your body burns the simple carbs (sugar and HFCS) for energy. When this primary fuel is used up, only then it taps into your stored body fat. If your goal is fat loss, you should avoid consuming energy drink.
Other potential side effects of energy drinks are:
- gastrointestinal upset
- increased heart rates
What about sugar free energy drinks?
They are likely to contain artificial sweeteners that can cause weight gain. See this post on: How Artificial Sweeteners Are Making You Fat
Most energy drinks contain high amounts of caffeine. Some producers don’t like to reveal the caffeine content. For those that do, the caffeine content may not be correct if the drinks also contain guarana. The latter is a source of caffeine.
Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant. It increases alertness temporarily but not energy. Caffeine is also a diuretic, so can dehydrate your body when you are sweating heavily during your workout.
There have been reported cases of caffeine-associated death and seizures arising from energy drink consumption. In additional reports, an otherwise healthy 28-year-old man suffered a cardiac arrest after a day of motocross racing and a healthy 18-year-old man died playing basketball after drinking two cans of Red Bull.
(I had tried Red Bull once and ended up having severe diarrhea in the middle of my university exams. That was my first and last energy drink I ever had!)
Excessive caffeine intake has negative effects on blood pressure, heart rate and brain function. Australian medical researchers warned that a can of Red Bull can increase heart attack or stroke, even in young and healthy people.
Healthier Alternatives to Energy Drinks
1. Green tea, Oolong tea, coffee
If you must have caffeine, you may as well drink green tea, Oolong tea or coffee. I find that caffeine in coffee tends to make me jittery so I quit drinking it many years ago. Nowadays, I prefer to drink organic green and Oolong teas as they have less caffeine than coffee and are packed with health-giving antioxidants. They are calorie free as I like drinking them without sugar and milk, to savour the aroma. You can add a bit of stevia if you want sweeten your tea.
2. Green drink
I usually start my day by drinking 2 teaspoons of Green Vibrance with water on an empty stomach. Green drink is known to boost energy, alkalizes and purifies the body, improves absorption of nutrients, digestion and skin tone. I find that it boosts my energy levels for morning workouts and throughout the day. It also reduces my appetite and improves my complexion. I’m getting more servings of fruits and vegetables from a green drink than what I can eat in a day, so there’s no worry about not eating enough of them.