Are energy drinks good for you? Can they be part of a healthy lifestyle? This post will answer your questions about energy drinks and whether it’s okay to use them to enhance your physical performance and mental alertness.
Everyone likes to feel energetic.
To be vibrant and like you can take on any task is a good feeling, there’s no doubt about that.
Having energy comes with exercise and eating well, and is a benefit of an overall healthy lifestyle.
So, of course, I promote clean eating and moving your body as the best way to get energy.
But I do understand that sometimes you may be busy and feeling a little tired, a look to an energy drink as a way to boost your vitality to get the task done.
Let’s look at energy drinks and answer some common questions, including whether they are good or bad for you.
WHAT ARE ENERGY DRINKS?
Energy drinks are mainly used as an aid to boost alertness and energy. It’s well known that students will often use energy drinks as an aid to finishing a late-night paper, and some athletes will drink them as a way to enhance their performance on the field or court or in the water.
Ant there’s actually some research behind that thinking, too. Studies do show that caffeine can increase muscle power. The self-perceived muscle power was felt 60 minutes after 3 mg/kg of body mass, taken in the form of a drink. As for cognitive performance, it’s been shown that energy drinks improve things like reaction time and memory.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ENERGY DRINKS AND SPORTS DRINKS
There is a definite difference between energy drinks and sports drinks. They are not one and the same at all. This post is about energy drinks, but for your information, here is a breakdown of the differences:
Sports drinks: Sports drinks are typically flavored and contain minerals, electrolytes, and carbohydrates. Sometimes there will be added nutrients and vitamins. Sports drinks are mainly used for hydration but should not be a substitute for water, which is a better choice of drink. Some types of sports drinks are:
Energy drinks: Energy drinks are made up of caffeine. The ingredient guarana is also typically added. Guarana is recognized as a safe ingredient and known as a stimulant (it has caffeine, too, and can add 60mg of caffeine per 8 oz. drink, on top of the typical 80mg of caffeine). Some energy drinks have as much as 180mg of caffeine per serving. Energy drinks also have vitamins, sodium, minerals, and sugar. Some types of energy drinks are:
- Full Throttle
- 5-Hour Energy
- Red Bull
- Zevia Energy Drink
WHAT ARE THE RISKS OF CONSUMING ENERGY DRINKS?
When asking yourself the question are energy drinks good for you, you do have to consider the risks. Yes, energy drinks can enhance physical performance and boost your brain, there are things to remember when consuming them.
While I do think that the occasional energy drink in moderation is okay, there are things like extra sugar, artificial sweeteners, and chemicals (which can lead to inflammation) to think about. There is also the chance that you may begin to rely on caffeine and become dependent.
Let’s take a look in more detail:
- Increased heart rate – Energy drinks are popular amongst young males and incidents have been reported on irregularities in heart rate, even in people without heart problems.
- Headaches – The caffeine in energy drinks can lead to headaches.
- Sleep issues – Poor sleep quality and insomnia can be seen in people who drink energy drinks.
- Behavior changes – Teens, in particular girls, may show changes in personality with the overconsumption of caffeine.
- Dental decay – Energy drinks have the potential to erode the teeth and cause cavities due to the high sugar content.
- Anxiety – Caffeine, guarana, ginseng, and ginkgo biloba found in many types of energy drinks can cause anxiety.
ENERGY DRINKS AND DIABETES
Energy drinks can contain as much as 21g to 34g of sugar per ounce! Sucrose, glucose, and high fructose corn syrup are the main sources, which means that energy drinks can wreak havoc on blood sugar levels.
The excessive caffeine in energy drinks is related to insulin sensitivity and can affect the body’s ability to manage blood glucose correctly. Drinking too many energy drinks regularly can increase your risk for type 2 diabetes.
IS IT OKAY TO HAVE AN ENERGY DRINK EVERY DAY?
It is okay to have an energy drink every day, but if you do, remember to keep an eye on how much caffeine you take in from other sources like coffee and tea. Some energy drinks are better than others because they have fewer additives and some even have less sugar.
In general, most types of energy drinks have 80mg of caffeine per 8 ounces and then you have the other ingredients (like guarana). Limit your energy drink consumption to one, or at most, two 8-ounce drinks. Remember that many energy drink containers have up to 16 ounces per can.
Let’s take a look at some of the healthier energy drink options:
- Bang: Bang is vegan-friendly and zero calories. It contains Branch Chain Amino Acids and B-Vitamins. Bang has sucralose and Ace-K as opposed to sugar. Learn about sucralose here.
- Zevia Energy Drink: Zevia contains stevia leaf as its sweetener and is made with natural flavors and organic caffeine. They describe their drink as clean energy.
- Hi-Ball: Hi-Ball is made from organic caffeine, organic ginseng, organic guarana, and B vitamins. The label states they are naturally flavored, have no preservatives, and no artificial anything.
A NOTE ON ENERGY DRINKS, SHOTS, AND ALCOHOL
It’s important to note that energy drinks also come in the form of energy shots. These pops of energy are about 2 ounces, yet contain more caffeine than their 8-ounce counterparts. It’s important to not take more than one—there is a lot of caffeine in one little shot.
CAN ENERGY DRINKS HELP YOU LOSE WEIGHT?
It’s a known fact that caffeine speeds up the metabolism which can help you lose weight. The problem is, that the sugar content in energy drinks is very high, and adds to your daily calorie count. This addition of empty calories will leave you feeling less full. Chances are, you’ll head for a snack when hungry, undoing the work of the caffeine.
Not only that, but the sweetness of the beverage can increase your cravings for even more sweets.
It’s much wiser to try and lose weight through meal prep, clean eating, and the eating of anti-inflammatory foods. Consuming protein is also an excellent way to lose weight. Read my post for awesome high protein snacks for weight loss. You see, protein fills you up, keeping you from munching on unhealthy foods.
CLEAN EATING ALTERNATIVES TO ENERGY DRINKS
If you still want to look to drinks as an aid to weight loss, consider these alternatives:
- Green tea – Green tea has TONS of benefits, including aiding weight loss
- Coffee – Coffee has lots of benefits, too
- Vegetable juice – Drink a low-sodium brand
- High protein drinks – Protein has a great satiety factor and increases lean muscle production
- Ginger tea – Ginger is anti-inflammatory and more
- Apple cider vinegar – Apple cider vinegar is great for weight loss and works well with intermittent fasting
- Water – Drink lots of water as it’s great for your skin and aids weight loss
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