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Published on February 25, 2021

3 Types Of Energy Drinks And How Effective They Are

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3 Types Of Energy Drinks And How Effective They Are

Modern living makes us tired, stressed out, and overwhelmed with work. That pushes us to look for a quick energy fix during a busy day. While the best way to restore your energy is to get adequate sleep, manage stress better, and ensure your nutrition is on point, we know that it’s not always possible. Here, we take a look at one popular way of getting an energy boost quickly by consuming energy drinks.

There are many different options available today:

  • Vitamin-fortified nutritional beverages like the Boost energy drink by Nestle
  • Mainstream brands like Monster and Red Bull that you can find in any store
  • Healthy and natural energizing sips without added sugars or artificial sweeteners and colors

The good news is that downing a can of caffeine-infused beverage may actually give you the pep in your step you so desperately need early in the morning or during the afternoon slump! But are all types of energy drinks equally effective? And are they good for you?

I have prepared an in-depth guide to compare the different energy drinks available. I’ll talk about how they can provide us with energy, how effective they are, what health benefits you can expect (or health problems) from them, and share a couple of good options to try at the end.

Read on to find out which energy drink is best for you!

A Brief History of Energy Drinks

Overworked and chronically stressed Americans have been using energy drinks for a quick pick-me-up for the last 30 years. However, as an active subset of major soft drink brands like Coca-Cola and Pepsi, they have been present on the market for a lot longer.

Energy drinks come packed with high amounts of stimulant compounds—mostly caffeine—and should boost our energy levels, strength, and improve focus. If you don’t feel like knocking back a full bottle, energy drinks also come in concentrated shots that are low in calories and easy to consume. They come in many variants and are marketed as healthy concoctions that will do miracles for your performance.

The question remains: do we really benefit from consuming them?

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The Science Behind Energy Drinks

Here’s a short rundown of the most common ‘energizers’ used in your favorite power drinks.

1. Caffeine

Caffeine is a natural stimulant for the brain and central nervous system. It helps you stay alert and boost productivity, prevents the onset of tiredness, and may help improve your mood.[1][2] Most energy drinks contain about 70 to 400 mg of caffeine in 16 ounces.

2. Guarana

This plant that is native to the Amazon forests is full of antioxidants that fight the free radicals in the human body. With an antioxidant profile close to green tea, guarana is a powerful source of caffeine. It helps keep your mind sharp and focused and may help relieve muscle pain and soreness.[3] Its presence in energy drinks can vary between 1.4 mg to 300 mg.

3. Taurine

Taurine is an amino acid that plays an important role in controlling several of the body’s metabolic processes. Although there is a lot more that we’ve yet to learn about taurine, some researchers suggest that, in combination with caffeine, it improves athletic and mental performance.[4] An average 16-ounce energy drink contains between 20 and 2,000 mg of taurine.

4. L-Theanine

An amino acid that promotes anxiety relief and relaxation without drowsiness, L-theanine is most commonly found in tea leaves. Research shows that it can help boost alertness, improve focus, and reduce tiredness when combined with small doses of caffeine.[5] Its presence in energy drinks can vary between 50 and 200 mg in 16 ounces.

5. B-Vitamins

B6 and B12 vitamins are the two types of B-complex vitamins that are most commonly present in energy drinks. They play an important role in energy metabolism, helping the body transform the food you eat into energy and absorb it.[6]

6. Ginseng

Ginseng is an extract made from the ginseng plant. While studies suggest that it doesn’t really improve physical performance, they do state that it can give you a boost in brainpower and increase intellectual work capacity.[7] A typical dose of ginseng is between 8 and 400 mg per can.

What Types of Energy Drinks Are Available?

As I mentioned at the beginning, there are three different types of energy-boosting drinks available on the market:

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  • Vitamin-fortified nutritional beverages like the Boost energy drink by Nestle
  • Mainstream brands like Monster and Red Bull
  • Healthy and natural energizing sips without added sugars or artificial sweeteners and colors

1. Vitamin-Fortified Nutritional Beverages

Unlike standard energy drinks, the Boost energy drink and other similar products are considered nutritional supplements designed to support your diet whenever your standard menu fails to provide your body with all the nutrients it needs for optimal performance.

Regarding their micronutrient content, these beverages are rich in vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D3, E, as well as zinc, iron, magnesium, and folate. All of these are either directly or indirectly responsible for turning calories into energy.

2. Mainstream Drinks

It’s almost inevitable to miss brands like RedBull or Monster when shopping the shelves for an energy-boosting drink. They come in different sizes and flavors, but their main objective is to give you a quick energy fix. They contain stimulants such as caffeine (70 to 400 mg per serving) and guarana, vitamins B5, B6, B12, and a fair amount of sugars to boost your energy levels.

Most drinks are available in standard 16oz cans or bottles, or you can find them as concentrated shots for faster and more convenient use.

3. Healthy and Natural Drinks

Fortunately, the healthy food industry has stepped up with a variety of healthier substitutes that can give you the much-needed energy boost from energy drinks without the side effects.

Natural energy drinks contain less than 200 mg of caffeine per serving, and their caffeine is derived from plant-based extracts of the coffee fruit, guayusa tea, green and black tea, and matcha.

They are also flavored with extracts of hibiscus, ginger, lemon, lime, and many others known for their brain-boosting and stress-reducing benefits. And the best part—naturally-derived energy drinks contain zero calories, added sugars, or artificial coloring.

How Effective Are the Different Types?

When it comes to the effectiveness of energy drinks, values vary from drink to drink depending on what you are looking to achieve.

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1. Vitamin-Fortified Nutritional Beverages

Nutritional beverages as sources of macro and micronutrients can come in handy in cases of loss of appetite, malnourishment, or needing a special diet. However, they are far from being nutritional magic bullets.

People with specific nutritional problems like vitamin and calorie deficiency are more likely to benefit from vitamin-fortified energy drinks than a healthy and active person who practices healthy sleeping and eating habits.

2. Mainstream Drinks

The high caffeine and sugar levels present in mainstream energy drinks provide a fast and substantial energy boost, enhance alertness, and improve reaction time. Keep in mind, though, that these effects are short-lived, and a sugar high is quickly followed by a sugar crash.

Most mainstream brands are also available as 50 ml energy shots. While they contain similar ingredients to full-size drinks, they are not necessarily more efficient. They may just be a healthier choice since they contain fewer calories and added sugars.

3. Healthy and Natural Drinks

With under 200 mg of caffeine per serving (research shows we only need about 100 mg to stay awake)[8] and no added sugars, natural energy drinks are just as effective as caffeine and sugar-loaded ones. The difference is that you won’t feel your energy levels drop within an hour!

Besides the safe amounts of caffeine derived from natural sources, healthy energy drinks are also packed with antioxidants and a wide variety of vitamins that help with energy transformation and absorption.

The Problem With Most Energy Drinks

While they may offer you a quick and effortless energy boost when you need to study or survive the last few hours at work, not all energy drinks are healthy. As a matter of fact, most of these beverages are full of sugars, additives, artificial flavors, and high doses of caffeine.

Studies have shown that caffeine is the reason behind increased blood pressure and heart rate in subjects who consumed energy drinks. Caffeine is also related to heightened alertness, anxiety, and interruption of sleep patterns. In addition, most energy drinks are overloaded with sugars and artificial sweeteners. Regular consumption may lead to diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular complications.

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On top of it, all the effects of energy drinks are temporary, and the benefits are short-lived. So, despite being marketed as muscle strength and power boosters, there is no viable evidence that energy drinks provide you with anything more permanent than a strong but brief energy kick.

Which Energy Drink Is the Best for You?

When shopping for a drink that will satisfy your daily energy needs, always have in mind that there is nothing more important than your health. So, natural energy drinks are the best choice for most people. They contain less sugar, less caffeine, less artificial ingredients, plus they can have lots of healthy ingredients like:

  • Natural fruit juices, which are a source of many essential antioxidants and polyphenols
  • A ton of vitamins and minerals
  • L-theanine
  • Green and black tea extract

Nutritional beverages like the Boost energy drink are also worth a try since they may help improve your nutrition and increase energy levels naturally over time.

How to Choose a Healthy Energizing Drink

If there is one piece of advice that I could give you, it would be, “think before you drink.” Make sure you understand what’s written on the labels and how those ingredients may or may not affect your overall well-being.

Here’s what to pay attention to when choosing your energy drink:

  • Caffeine: Keep your caffeine intake under 400 mg a day and, if possible, choose a drink with less than 200 mg. Consuming more than this amount may result in heart palpitations, increased blood pressure, and jitters.
  • Added Sugars and artificial sweeteners: Choose drinks that contain no added sugars or that come with natural sweeteners like stevia.[9] If you do reach for an energy booster with added sugars, it’s best to take it before exercising or going to the gym. Sugars are famous for providing an instant energy rush that, unfortunately, goes away as fast as it comes.
  • “Energizing” vitamins: B vitamins play a key role in converting food into energy. While you won’t feel much of a difference energy-wise after downing one, they help the body absorb the energy already stored in your food.

3 Best Options Without the Extra Jitters

To help you on your search for the best energy drink, here are a few products that are rich in healthy nutrients:

  1. Mati Unsweetened Sparkling Organic Energy Drink—made with brewed guayusa tea, it’s the elixir of the Amazonian tribes that contains safe amounts of caffeine and antioxidants.
  2. Toro Matcha Sparkling Ginger—ginger and lime infused, it’s perfect for people sensitive to high caffeine levels as it only contains 60 mg per serving.
  3. Guayaki Unsweetened Yerba Maté—this South American drink is said to be as potent as a coffee, as healthy as a tea, and as satisfying as chocolate.

Conclusion

The stress of everyday living forces many adults to rely on caffeine and sugar to get them through the day—and energy drinks are a great source of both.

For your health, stick to natural drinks that contain up to 200 mg of caffeine and no added sugars. You’ll still get the pick-me-up you need without the potential health issues. And most importantly, be mindful of the underlying reasons that keep you tired and unable to focus.

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Featured photo credit: Jonathan Cooper via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Maxime Saar

Healthy Lifestyle Blogger & Positive Thinker

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Last Updated on September 16, 2021

The Real Reason Why You Feel Exhausted (No Matter How Much You Sleep)

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The Real Reason Why You Feel Exhausted (No Matter How Much You Sleep)

I love my sleep. I always make sure to get at least eight hours each night. I’ll even leave parties early so I can get to bed at my usual time Yet, there are still mornings when I wake up feeling exhausted, even after a great night’s sleep. Whenever that happens, I run through a mental checklist, grasping at straws to explain to myself why I feel so groggy: why do I feel exhausted? Did I drink too much last night? Did I stay up past my usual bedtime? Did I hit snooze on my alarm twelve times? Eight hours of sleep a night shouldn’t result in chronic exhaustion, right?

Regardless of how much quality sleep you’re getting, you can still feel mentally exhausted, burnt out, run-down, worn through—whatever you want to call it. Most of the time, you’re so exhausted you don’t even have the time or the sense to see it clearly.

The answer is right in front of your face, but you haven’t had a chance to step back and analyze your situation. Maybe you hate your job, or you’re worried about paying rent, but you’re not actively thinking about it. How could you with all that’s going on? It’s planted in your subconscious, lurking there and eating away at your morale.

That worn-down feeling is a cumulative combination of unconsidered stressful circumstances—an amalgamation of past worries and future anxieties. We aren’t talking about your regular physical exhaustion from a long day’s work standing on your feet. This is purely in between your ears. You’re overstimulated, and it’s dragging you down. But what’s the real reason behind this brain fog? Why do you feel exhausted?

The first place to look at is stress,[1] which is the body’s natural response to a new challenge or demand. Where are you currently experiencing stress in your life?

Most pain, exhaustion, or emotional fatigue is the direct result of stress. Daily life is filled with tiny stressors—running to catch the morning bus, praying you’ll find a parking spot, or worrying about the leak in your ceiling at home. As these small stressors pile on uncontrollably, you realize you’re white-knuckling through the day.

Mental exhaustion,[2] simply put, is long-term stress. It’s having a day like the above over and over again for months on end until it weighs so much it finally drags you to the ground. You can’t keep living like this.

You may have experienced this in the form of a “mid-life crisis,” or even a quarter-life crisis where you stop and realize you never pursued the things you once hoped and dreamed of. Life passed you by in the blink of an eye. What happened to the “purpose” you once wanted to get out of life? Maybe you wanted to be an artist and all of a sudden, you look down and you’re forty-three years old sitting in a conference room surrounded by suits and boring charts.

You’re faking your way through life and you’re tired of putting on an act.

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Why Do You Feel Exhausted?

“Depression, anxiety, phobias… so many things can be disguised in a way that gives a facade of normalcy over a person’s internal struggles.” —Morgan Housel

There are many reasons why you may be feeling exhausted. There may be times when you had complete hours of sleep yet ask yourself after waking up: why do I still feel exhausted?

Why? It’s because there are other possible reasons for this exhaustion other than improper or lack of sleep. Here are some reasons why you feel exhausted.

1. High-Pressure Occupation (emergency responders and teachers)

Working in a highly stressful scene like an ER or police department is an obvious input for stress. Long hours on the job and making high-level decisions in crisis mode need to be followed by a period of rest, relaxation, and debriefing.

2. Working Long Hours

Consistently clocking in 12-14 hour days for weeks on end can drag you down. Many occupations require this type of work seasonally, like accountants during tax season. But when you’re spending that much time at week year-round and there is no end in sight, mental exhaustion can become chronic.

3. Financial Stress

For obvious reasons, being in troubled circumstances with your finances can cause long-term stress and constant worries, which lead to feeling exhausted. How can you enjoy life if you can’t afford to do the things you enjoy? No matter how much you sleep, you will still feel exhausted if something is troubling you at the back of your mind like financial problems.

4. Dissatisfied With Your Job

When you ask yourself, “why do I feel exhausted?” Try also asking, “Am I satisfied with my job?”

Many people slog through life in a job they hate. Whether it’s your unruly boss, the team that you work with, or the customers who you’re sick of hearing complaining, being stuck in a dissatisfying job can cause feelings of resentment in work and your personal life.

5. Clutter

Whether you’re naturally a messy person or life has become so frantic that you haven’t even had a chance to clean or organize, clutter plays a massive part in mental exhaustion. Having a clear workspace and a calm environment to walk into makes a difference in mental clarity. This can also affect your productivity and your attitude towards your job.

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6. Avoidance and Procrastination

When you feel exhausted, it may be because something at the back of your head is troubling you. You may have some responsibilities that you should be doing or have done but still have not. Putting things off too long will cause hidden stress to climb on top of you like a monkey on your back. Avoiding your responsibilities and procrastinating are some of the possible causes as to why you feel exhausted.

7. Living With Chronic Pain or an Illness

Going through life with stress is hard enough. Add on top of that something like chronic back pain or a congenital condition and it’s like taking care of two separate people for yourself. This can also cause feelings of resentment, bitterness, and irritation around people you love, even those who support and take care of you.

8. Death of a Loved One

Losing a close friend or family member is something everyone has experienced, and it never gets easier. Many people try to play tough and portray to their loved ones that they are okay and dealing with it just fine. But the reality is that it’s weighing them down.

Be honest with yourself about it, and have someone you can talk to. Experiencing your grief alone and not sharing it with anyone may be the reason why you feel exhausted.

9. Lack of Purpose

Life needs to have a purpose. Every individual has a purpose that is entirely unique to their circumstance. It can be guided by religion, occupation, or an ultimate life goal to strive towards, such as writing a book or owning a business. Without an ultimate purpose, it’s easy to let yourself slip into a depression that leads to mental exhaustion.

What Should You Do When You Feel Exhausted?

“When you’re struggling with something, look at all the people around you and realize that every single person you see is struggling with something, and to them, it’s just as hard as what you’re going through.” —Nicholas Sparks

1. Talk About It

It may sound obvious, but talking through these struggles with someone is a form of therapy in itself. Chances are, someone has been through the same type of thing that you’re going through right now. Don’t hide it. Open up and learn how others dealt with it. It’s more common than you think.

2. Find an Outlet or a Hobby

One way to help find joy out of a life of exhaustion is to come home to a hobby. Unwind from the workday by doing something you love that’s also a bit challenging. Learn how to play guitar, play video games with your kids, read a book, or learn new recipes to cook for your family. Take your mind away from whatever it is you’re worried about. Focus entirely on the process and get out of your anxiety.

3. Be Realistic

You can’t do everything. Look at your schedule, and be honest with yourself and the people around you about what’s possible for one person to do in a day. You can’t change the world alone. Enlist the help of others and don’t be too proud to ask. Putting the weight of the world on your shoulders may be the reason why you feel exhausted.

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4. Arrive Early

It took me years in life to realize how much being early can relieve stress. Waking up five minutes earlier gives me five minutes to relax and think if I’m forgetting anything before I head out the door. Leaving five minutes before I normally would for an event gives me five minutes to arrive and get a good seat, scope out the scene, or talk to someone and learn something about the place.

Being early allows you to be relaxed and completely comfortable as opposed to running through life in a hurry. Settle in before anyone else and have the mental edge that you’re prepared for anything.

5. Exercise More, Try Healthier Habits

Exercise is probably the last thing you want to do. But have you ever regretted a workout? One hundred percent of the time it makes you feel better and gives you the momentum to have a great day.

Try healthier habits. Go for a walk right when you get out of bed. Try a new vegetable once a week. Drink more water. Stand more. Replace dessert with fruit. If you drink ten cups of coffee a day, try to go one day a month without coffee. Healthier habits ultimately lead to a happier life in more ways than you think.

6. Journal

Similar to talking about your problems, journaling is an excellent outlet for not only getting the thoughts out of your head but also to clarify your feelings. As you write, you’ll realize you actually didn’t understand what you were thinking. Writing helps that. Do it often.

7. Take Care of Something

Get a pet. If you’re not ready for a dog, then buy a few plants to take care of. This takes the attention off yourself and on to something that relies on you for livelihood. It will help put everything in perspective and relieve stress and exhaustion.

8. Meditate

This is such an overly-used cure-all, but meditation really does help with clarity of thinking and developing a sense of calm in your life. Researchers found that meditation “decreased symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression.[3]

It doesn’t have to be sitting with your legs cross, fingers in a circle, and saying “Oooommmmmm.” Meditating can take on whatever form you’re comfortable with. It can be taking a few deep breaths before you step out of your car, or it can be closing your eyes and thinking of your loved ones when you’re having a hard time.

Sometimes before bed, I’ll just close my eyes and envision a future I want for myself. I picture the people I love hugging me and saying “Congratulations.” For what? I don’t know, but I’m putting myself in the mindset to succeed.

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Final Thoughts

Dr. Alice Boyes, author of The Healthy Mind Toolkit:[4]

“The more you work on systems for reducing stress and excess decision-making, the more mental energy you’ll have.”

This is true in so many areas. Work on habits and routines that will eliminate the number of decisions you make. The more disciplined you are in these areas, the more freedom you will have to do the things you truly want and need. But also, understand how you are getting in your own way.

Author Tim Ferriss likes to ask himself, “How am I complicit in creating the conditions I say I don’t want?” or “What are the stories I tell myself that interfere with self-love?”

Take a look at the actions and routines you structure your life around. Are there small tweaks you can make to get out of your own way? What would this look like if it were easy? Sometimes, asking yourself questions like these can lead to surprisingly simple solutions and answer the question of “why do I feel exhausted?”

As I said, everyone is struggling in their own way. How you manage your stress may differ completely from someone else. By being vulnerable and understanding that you have the ability to overcome this exhaustion, you can begin to find meaning. Exercise consistent positive habits and the momentum will attract more positive momentum. Oh, and get good sleep!

More Tips to Help You When You Feel Exhausted

Featured photo credit: Hernan Sanchez via unsplash.com

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