The big food companies are smart. They grab your attention by promoting an over-priced, over-hyped health beverage that claims to boost your energy without bulging your waistline.
The truth, these drinks should really be sold in the confectionary aisle. They are in fact slowing down our metabolism, and setting up your body for fat storage, and not fat loss.
Let’s review what really goes into these drinks (And how you can make them healthier.)
Energy drinks are amongst the best sellers. Sales of energy drink products have more than doubled in the past 5 years, with 35 percent of men ages 18 to 24 drinking them regularly, according to a new Mintel survey.
Despite most energy drinks now offering a sugar-free version, that doesn’t mean they are good for you.
The artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose and acesulfame-K that are contained in energy drinks are toxic. They show a vast array of side effects like a concerning increase of 30% in risks of depression. (1)
Red Bull recently introduced giant cans, but the bigger trend is toward shrinking drinks. According to a Mintel estimate, Americans dropped about $1.3 billion on energy shots in 2011—more than 17 times the $73 million they spent in 2006.
People are lured in by the promise of instant energy. The problem that arises is that when they take the hook, the initial buzz wears off and the user needs more. This creates a downward spiral. Before long, two cans are needed for the same effect, then three cans, and so on.
The other issue with energy drinks are the hidden ingredients. Taurine is one of those. A closer look at taurine reveals it doesn’t have a positive effect on energy at all, in fact quite the opposite.
Taurine is one of the most abundant amino acids in your brain. It acts as a neurotransmitter – a chemical messenger that communicates with other brain cells.
The problem with taurine in a drink is the absorption. When taurine is dumped into your bloodstream — such as when you down an energy drink in less than five minutes—it can’t pass through the membranes that protect your brain, says Neil Harrison, Ph.D., the professor of pharmacology at Weill Cornell Medical College.
However Harrison doubts taurines’ effect on energy, and claims it might behave more like a sedative than a stimulant. In studies performed on rodents’, their brain activity slowed significantly when the amino acid was applied to brain tissue. Harrison believes taurine mimicked a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA.
TRY THIS INSTEAD:
There’s a better way to fuel up if you need an instant energy boost. Drink a single-shot of organic espresso, then take a 10 minute power nap. When you wake, perform 15 pushups, 15 squats, and then take a 5-minute cold water shower.
By the time you wake from your sleep, the exercise combined with the effects of the water temperature will combine with the small caffeine dose for sustained energy to get you safely through any slump.
Coffee consumption is another drink that has hit all-time sales records. With more than 2 billion cups sold worldwide every day, it is now the world’s most-used drug.
The good news is that caffeine is a proven appetite suppressant. This can also turn up the calorie-burning heat of your heart rate and metabolism.
“Drinking six cups a day in conjunction with exercise and a controlled diet can boost fat-burning by up to 20%,” says Catherine Collins, chief dietician at St George’s Hospital, London.
The problem with coffee is not the bean itself (unless you are drinking more than the recommended amount.)
The problem rather is the flavored coffees, and the hidden sugars and calories they contain. For example, the Chocolate Cream Venti Frappuccino from Starbuck’s contains 600 calories, 69 grams of sugar and 20g of fat.
TRY THIS INSTEAD:
If you are craving a healthy flavored coffee, try this simple recipe instead:
Creamy Chocolate-Espresso Smoothie
- 1 Scoop of chocolate protein powder of your choice
- 1 espresso shot of coffee
- 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
- 6 oz of Almond Milk (unsweetened)
- 4 oz of crushed ice
Notes: Put all ingredients in a blender and enjoy!
Nutrition Facts: Calories: 148, Fat (g) 6.8, Carbohydrates (g) 9.5, Fiber (g) 0, Protein (g) 13.6
Much healthier than the store-bought version, and it still tastes great. Or of course just enjoy black coffee in moderation, and save the sugar and the calories that come from the flavorings and syrups.
Water Is Still Number One
Water is essential if you wish to get the most out of your day. Despite what you’ve been told, there is no universal requirement for water intake, and exact needs will vary from person to person depending on several factors.
My advice is this – simply drink water when you’re thirsty, and aim to consume as much as possible. Our tap water is filled with contaminants, and depending on where you live in the world, could be worse for some. Investing in a water filter is highly recommended.