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Published on February 25, 2021

3 Types Of Energy Drinks And How Effective They Are

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.

Featured photo credit: Jonathan Cooper via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Maxime Saar

Healthy Lifestyle Blogger & Positive Thinker

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Published on April 14, 2021

How To Relieve Stress And Restore Energy

How To Relieve Stress And Restore Energy

You didn’t get to where you are in life without learning how to relieve stress along the way. But just because you’ve “been there, done that” doesn’t necessarily mean it is going to be easier this time around. Granted life experience will likely have taught you the old refrain, “this too shall pass” but that same life experience will also likely have taught you something about the active role you need to take to combat stress from time to time and how we could all stand to benefit from a stress-busting reboot.

I think we all know the dangerous side effects of too much stress in our lives. Stress is a major contributor to many poor health outcomes, such as diabetes, weight gain, hypertension, poor memory, and a whole host of mental health issues.[1] Therefore, how we manage the stress in our lives, needs to be revisited with a fresh and new perspective, in the same way, we need to clean out and freshen up our closet every so often.

Below are my top 10 strategies to relieve stress and restore energy with a fresh look at some old favorites that are guaranteed to help you self-optimize for health and happiness in body, mind, and spirit.

1. Compartmentalize—Prioritization on Steroids

People think of the compartmentalizing tactic in different ways, and there are negative associations with this term. However, when I suggest that you compartmentalize to manage your stress—or better yet, relieve stress—what I am referring to is the idea that you block out certain parts of your life that are distracting you from what you need to do in your daily life.

For example, you are at work but also have some extraordinary stress in your private life due to ailing parents with no siblings to share in the caretaking. Managing this alongside your own family and professional responsibilities, which were already heavy enough, places an enormous amount of stress on you.

When you compartmentalize, you put up mental blinders to help you focus on the task in front of you with the knowledge that managing your parent’s living and financial situation will be handled in due time after work hours.

Learning how to block out these different realms of your life will help you prioritize and manage the work that is in front of you.

2. Get Outside, It’s Like Therapy

Simply getting outside in the fresh air will automatically bring down your stress levels and restore some lost energy.[2] The research around this growing field known as ecotherapy is proving once again how powerful nature is and how we can improve our mental wellbeing along with our physical and spiritual health with time outdoors.[3]

When you are outside, you are more likely to have increased activity levels and will be exposing yourself to the mood-boosting sun, which helps our body create vitamin D. Research on vitamin D indicates that those who are vitamin D deficient may be more susceptible to inflammatory illness, depression and lowered resistance to stress, and more and more of us are becoming vitamin D deficient across the United States.[4]

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Spending as little as 10 minutes outside every day can be enough to improve mood, mental focus, and decrease blood pressure. Think of the increased concentration and improved efficiency you will get as a return on investment that yields way better growth on your aptitude and attitude for life.

3. Do an Organization Reboot

We all know the secret to success is largely due to organization or at least some form of it. I would argue that organization is a process. We build structures to organize information and life events based on our current demands. Over the course of your life, this will vary and probably increase as your life becomes more complicated, which will force you to innovate and change things up as you go.

What was enough in college or your first job out of college may not be enough at this point in your life. Furthermore, many, many systems can help us organize, and too many can detract from their intended benefits.

Assessing and weeding out the unnecessary systems or consolidating from the many to one might just be the answer.

Is a family calendar on Google more efficient than the calendar hanging in the kitchen? Don’t just assume that the answer will be in tech. Sometimes the old-fashioned pen and paper is more practical and might also serve as a better physical reminder—think of the whiteboard in the kitchen vs the hidden “to-do list” on your smartphone with reminders that consistently fail.

Another strategy for your organization reboot is an organization self-assessment. First, what it is that you need help organizing, and what the intended outcome is? Is it for communication purposes—to make sure that everyone is on the same page—or is it to help you process and think about the workload in front of you? Answering these 2 questions will help you move forward as you think about what makes the most sense for you, your family, or your team at work.

Another way to approach an organization reboot is to ask other people how they stay organized. This is especially helpful when taking on new responsibilities that might come with a job change or a new family dynamic.

I did this in a new position I recently took and by collecting data on how other people approached their work (think of the complex systems in public education), I was able to create “a best practice” that worked for me and that I could share with my colleagues. Something that could earn you some extra kudos is a bonus, especially when you are the new kid on the block.

4. Engage Your Creative Brain

When we engage the creative parts of ourself we tap into the part of our brain that releases dopamine, which has a naturally calming, therapeutic effect. Needless to say, this will almost immediately help us to relax and will lower our stress levels. One of the premises for which art therapy has been well established.

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In one study, in particular, it was found that after just 45 minutes of engaging with artistic materials, regardless of the level of production or artistic talent the person had, there was a notable decrease of cortisol in 75% of the participants.[5]

Music therapy is another form of creative art that can relieve stress and restore our energy.[6] Many of us use music to help us decompress or move into another part of our day or activity. Music also taps into this part of our brain that increases focus and can help us emulate the feeling or “vibe” we perceive in the music. As we know, upbeat music will help you feel more positive while slower music can help you feel more relaxed by easing some of the tension in your body.

There are tons of great playlists out there aimed at stress relief. The next time you are on your preferred music streaming service, test out a few and see which works for you. Needless to say, music is one of those things that we can have in the background while moving forward with other parts of our day.

Perhaps this is another area in need of a reboot that could enhance your stress relief routine.

5. Do You Need a Vacation or Weekend Away?

Vacation opportunities may not be as readily available as we would like. However, it doesn’t have to be a week in the tropics to feel the benefits of a short break from your everyday routine.

If we are optimizing our time with some of the above strategies, perhaps we might be able to sneak in that weekend getaway or even just a day trip with the family. Getting out of your everyday environment, especially when trying to build in some respite and relieve stress, can do wonders for our mind, body, and spirit.

We may love our homes, but they do represent the endless “to-do list” and remind us of all the things that contribute to our stress levels. Getting away from this environment where you can get outside and engage in some of your favorite activities with your favorite people will free your mind and your body.

Granted, COVID-19 has definitely hindered our road trip or vacation opportunities. However, with a little creativity, we can build in the little breaks that we need to relieve some stress, reconnect with the people who are important in our lives, and help us to feel ready for the next hurdle in front of us.

6. Meditation and Mindfulness, Make Them a Habit

Meditation and mindfulness can offer endless benefits to us emotionally and psychologically, which will naturally relieve stress. Many of those benefits include increased focus, relaxation, and a decrease in the mental clutter in your head.

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One of the biggest challenges with mediation or mindfulness is that to feel the impact, we need to practice it consistently, which takes discipline. The people who are most successful at integrating mediation and mindfulness into their self-care and stress relief routines are people who build it into their daily practices.

And as is true with many strategies, we don’t need to spend hours doing it. Just 5 or 10 minutes a day can make a difference, but we do need to make sure we are doing it.

Maybe there is a 5 or 10-minute window at the end or beginning of your day where you could fit this consistently? There are lots of great apps to help guide you through your mediation with music and visualization.

7. Fight Off “Aloneliness” and Find Your Alone Time

I read an article recently about “aloneliness,” which is the opposite of loneliness. As an introvert, I have always been that person who replenishes her energy from time alone but never quite thought about the craving as a likening to loneliness for the introvert.

The benefits of alone time are science-backed and include those things that many times go out the window when we are stressed and overwhelmed—things like creativity, mental strength, and productivity. The COVID-19 pandemic has left many people without the opportunity to have their alone time, which could be another reason that you are feeling more stressed and less able to deal with your daily challenges.

You might need to be strategic, but you could build some alone time into your life with a walk outside to get lunch for example, which will also be incorporating strategy #2 on this list.

8. Find Balance in Your Life

Stress can turn our lives upside down and throw everything off-kilter. Finding your equilibrium, getting your bearings straight, and finding the balance in your life between the many demands of family, partner, work, and friends is essential.

If you are feeling increased stress, take a look at the demands around you and make sure that there is a balance between the different parts of your life—in particular, the areas where you find more nourishment for the soul.

Incorporating the well-known life coaching strategy “life wheel” is a great way to think about the different parts of your life to ensure that you are giving all areas the time and attention that they need.

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9. Maintain Good Sleep Hygiene

It’s no secret that sleep can be your best friend or public enemy number one. As the saying goes, “what a difference a day can make” is in large part due to a restful night’s sleep. However, when we are stressed, sleep is one of the first things to get out of whack.

If you are going through a period of high stress, you are likely feeling an increase in outside or family demands. Finding the time to fit it all in may naturally creep into your sleeping hours or, on the other hand, the stress might keep you from being able to get a restful night’s sleep. Either of these two scenarios is a case where it might be good to take a look at your sleep routine and force you to be a little more protective of it.

Some of my go-to tips and strategies around maintaining healthy sleep hygiene are:[7]

  1. Plan ahead
  2. Maintain your physical activity
  3. Limit alcohol
  4. Sleep in a cooler environment
  5. Get plenty of fresh air

So, before you get to thinking that you can sleep “later,” remember that healthy people and well-balanced lives have a healthy amount of sleep in their lives.

10. Animal Love

There’s tons of research out there about the benefits of having a pet, in particular, a dog or a cat. Taking care of a pet or any member of the animal kingdom can have such a positive impact on our mood and psychological well-being that our brain releases a hormone known as oxytocin, dubbed the love hormone.

We get this hormone from other nurturing (human) relationships as well, but we cannot underestimate the impact this can have on us when we care for and connect with one of our four-legged buddies. A case in point is the fact that many pet owners report feeling a connection to their pet that rivals that of any significant human connection and, in some cases, can even be more significant than a human-to-human connection.[8]

Additionally, having a pet will likely promote other healthy habits. Some of which I spoke about above, such as being outside more often and increasing your physical activity. On a social level, connecting with friends and neighbors about your pet creates a shared connection—another protective factor in the fight against stress.

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Modern life places many demands on us which hits us in different ways during different periods of our lives. Maintaining our physical, mental, and spiritual well-being requires a fresh and renewed approach every so often.

If you take the time today—to take care of yourself for tomorrow by revamping the old worn-out items in your self-care toolbox—you will reap the benefits 20 fold! Learning how to relieve stress from our life is a process that we will need to revisit time and time again, each time getting better and better.

More Tips on How to Cope With Stress

Featured photo credit: Candice Picard via unsplash.com

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