Everyone seems to need a little energy lift every now and then. Unfortunately many of us turn to energy drinks like 5 Hour Energy or Bang to get this boost. Energy drinks are rarely a good idea when we are looking to get through that midafternoon slump or trying to enhance our workouts.
Impact of Energy Drinks
Many energy drinks shock your system with very high amounts of caffeine and sugar in an effort to increase alertness, but that sudden spike in energy is usually followed by a brutal crash which leaves you feeling worse off than before. Most energy drinks are nutritionally equivalent to soda, which means they are not providing any real health benefit.
A 16-ounce can of Rockstar contains 260 calories and 62 grams of sugar. Regular consumption of beverages high in added sugar has been associated with an increased risk of cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. The American Heart Association recommends a limit of 24 grams per day for women and 36 grams per day for men. Each gram of sugar also contains 4 calories, which quickly adds to overall calorie count.
A 16-ounce can of BANG contains a staggering 300mg of caffeine. The average 8-ounce cup of brewed coffee contains 95mg, while a 12-ounce can of Red Bull contains 111mg. A limit of 400mg per day is generally considered safe for the overwhelming majority of healthy people. But those words per day are important. Chugging a can of BANG allows you to down 300mg of caffeine in mere minutes, which can be too much, too fast for people who are not accustomed to such a dose. A warning on BANG cans details that “too much caffeine may cause nervousness, irritability, sleeplessness, and, occasionally, rapid heartbeat.”
Kids and adolescents should avoid caffeine and added sugar
Pediatricians recommend that children and adolescents should avoid caffeine and sugar which are both often found in soft drinks and energy drinks. A warning on the BANG label states that their product is “Not intended for individuals under the age of 18.”
Presently it is unknown as to how excessive caffeine intake impacts the developing brain. It is known that caffeine interferes with sleep, and sleep plays a critical role in learning. The excess sugar can also lead to unnecessary weight gain.
Ways to Increase Energy Levels Naturally
Avoiding drinks that contain high levels of caffeine and sugar will help us all be healthier. But we still need ways to boost our energy levels to get us through some long days. Here are a few suggestions on how to add to your energy levels naturally.
- Get More Sleep … get enough sleep to feel refreshed in the morning.
- Reduce Stress … take some time for yourself to relax, read or go for a walk
- Exercise … walk, bike, add movement to your day
- Don’t Smoke … the effects of smoking lower your energy levels
- Limit Alcohol … too much alcohol impacts sleep
- Eat a Nutritious Diet … fueling your body with good things keeps energy levels high
- Avoid Added Sugar … too much sugar can increase your risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease
- Stay Hydrated … replace lost fluids throughout the day with water
Be Aware of Your Use of Energy Drinks
The majority of us consume caffeine in moderation without any harmful side effects, so healthy adults just need to be aware of what is in the different energy drinks. Knowing how much sugar we are taking in is also important. Our recommendation is to minimize the use of energy drinks and defer to good ol’ H2O when you feel a need for a little extra boost.