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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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Published on December 15, 2021

What Supplements Should I Take Daily To Stay Healthy?

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What Supplements Should I Take Daily To Stay Healthy?

Having quality nutrition every day is key to staying healthy and fit. Many people wonder if taking supplements is needed to supply their needs. The answer to this question lies in a lot of factors. Here’s the thing: there is no black and white approach when it comes to taking supplements, but if you’ve been wondering whether you need supplements or not, I will help clarify some of your concerns.

Sometimes, having too many options of supplements on the market can be overwhelming. If you’re still asking yourself what supplements to take, then keep reading.

What Supplements Should I Take?

When you reach for that bottle of vitamins or fish oil, for example, you wonder if any of these will work and if they are safe. Well, the main thing you should be asking yourself is if you need them in the first place. And the truth is, there are tons of supplements for different needs.

Our body requires all the necessary nutrients, like vitamins, minerals, protein, healthy fat, and fiber every day. The best source for these nutrients is real food. Nothing beats having a balanced lifestyle that includes quality whole foods. But the reality is that most people are not meeting the minimum requirements of certain nutrients, especially vitamins and minerals.

Even with fiber, people struggle to eat enough fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, for instance. That’s why you can see many symptoms like digestive issues and lack of energy.

Supplements come into the picture to help your body meet all the necessary nutrients. They also help avoid any deficiency. Supplements can even strengthen your body and enhance your metabolism. There are many benefits of taking supplements. The answer to whether you’ll need to take them depends on many other things.

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Should I Invest in Supplements?

Before I suggest a list of the types of supplements you should take, this is what you should bear in mind. Supplements are just an aid to a healthy eating lifestyle. In other words, you should always aim to eat healthier, vary your plate, and have enough whole foods in your diet. That is crucial to ensure that you are meeting at least the minimum nutrient requirements.

You shouldn’t invest in supplements to get your main nutrition. Always focus on quality foods before you supplement your diet. Now, supplements can reinforce what you’re lacking in your eating lifestyle. Because of that, I love to always have some sort of multivitamin complex.

In general, if you have a proper eating lifestyle, it’s not mandatory to invest in supplements. However, there are specific cases, for example, pregnant women, in which we recommend taking supplements. Always make sure that you check with your doctor or nutritionist before taking any form of supplement.

Why Do I Need Supplements? Which Ones Are Important?

Below are the most common reasons why you may need to take supplements and which ones you should try.

1. Restricting Eating Lifestyles

As a nutritionist, I rarely recommend anyone going through a restrictive diet. In fact, I discourage it altogether. The best thing is that you embrace a balanced eating lifestyle since this is the way to ensure you stay at a healthy weight and have a good metabolism. That’s the reason why I don’t like removing entire food groups from people’s diets.

However, I also understand diverse eating lifestyles. For example, there is a vast majority of people that are actively changing to a vegan lifestyle. If you’re a raw vegan or strictly plant-based, you may need to supplement certain vitamins. Because animal foods like dairy, certain meats, and poultry have essential vitamins and minerals like B12, iron, and folic acid, then you may have less intake of these in plant-based foods. There is much debate in this area related to plant-based diets, but basically, experts recommend taking supplements.

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As I said about restrictive diets, eliminating entire food groups can cause you to suffer certain problems like lack of energy, constipation, less muscle, and lower brain function.[1] Before you try any type of diet out there, make sure you have a better relationship with food and check with a health professional. Overall, a good multivitamin complex should be good enough to supply all your needs. Go for the ones that provide vitamin B complex and minerals like iron, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, and zinc.

2. Reinforcing Nutrient Intake

It’s true that eating the right foods is essential for your body. Apart from that, certain processed foods, like dairy, cereals, and others are fortified with certain vitamins and minerals. Take advantage of these types of healthy foods as well.

If you feel like you could lack a certain nutrient, then taking multivitamins is a good option. Not only because it will help you meet your goals, but it will also ensure that your body has more energy and better performance. Therefore, there is nothing wrong with taking a supplement to reinforce your healthy eating lifestyle. Apart from multivitamins, you could also take fiber supplements in case you struggle with digestive issues or you feel like you’re not eating enough plant-based foods.

3. Special Conditions

There are certain cases or stages in life when you may need to take supplements. For instance, pregnant women require higher amounts of certain vitamins and minerals, like iron and folic acid.[2] Elderly people should also consume some supplements since their body absorbs less nutrients compared to younger people.[3] That’s why certain protein drinks, multivitamins, and omega-3 are prescribed to this age group. Also, people who have certain chronic health problems or underwent surgery may need supplements.

Women going through menopause are also often required to take supplements.[4] If you belong to this age group, you may need to talk to your doctor about supplements to balance off your hormone levels. Remember that not all supplements are made equally, and some ingredients may have side effects. This is especially true if you’re on prescriptions. Always check first.

4. Fitness Goals

Who doesn’t want to boost their fitness results? People that train at the gym often ask if they need to have protein supplements. It all goes down to the basics: eat healthily and put that as a priority. However, you can also take supplements based on your goals.

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Whether you want to burn some fat, build muscle, or are an athlete, supplements can reinforce and speed up your results. But here’s the thing: you should always do it the right way and not rely only on supplements for fitness results. Everything goes hand in hand, and it’s a matter of balance and moderation.

Now, here are some supplements you can take to improve your muscle performance, growth, and fat burn:[5]

  • Whey protein
  • L-glutamine
  • Branch chain amino acids
  • Multi-vitamin complex and fish oil
  • MCT oil

These supplements, coupled with a good diet, help provide steady muscle development, shed fat, and keep a healthy metabolism for better results. You have to be active to see their benefits, though. This will ensure your body is using up the nutrients effectively and not stored as fat.

There are some other great supplements made to boost energy levels and increase muscle efficiency. Here are some examples:[6]

  • Guaraná
  • Gingko biloba
  • Ginseng
  • Creatine
  • Citrulline

These are natural energy boosters. Caffeine also does a good job when it comes to improving your energy levels. These supplements should be a compliment to a healthy diet, or if you struggle with low energy performance when working out.

Speaking of energy, sometimes, simple lifestyle habits like sleeping better can make a huge difference in how you feel. So, make sure you are also working on these other areas of your life and not relying exclusively on supplements.

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5. Beauty and Self-Care

You can also find supplements for personal care. Some help to enhance your skin health, others are for hair and nails growth.

For example, collagen and multivitamins are commonly used for beauty and skincare. Because collagen is our skin’s main protein, we need to ensure our body has enough to stay glowing and healthy. Collagen also has powerful effects on skin beauty and anti-aging. You can easily add this protein to your drinks and foods to enhance your own skin’s collagen.[7]

If you didn’t know, adding collagen to your regimen after you’re 25 can help slow down the effects of aging. At that age, our skin produces less collagen, and we lose skin elasticity. Therefore, it’s a nice addition to your supplements and skincare routine.

Final Thoughts

You should always aim to have a healthy eating regimen before thinking about what supplements you need. Second, assess what are your lifestyle and health goals. Also, determine if your health and/or fitness condition requires you to add supplements.

Remember that your objective is to get enough protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. If your diet lacks any of these, look for an assessment on how to get these nutrients.

More Tips on Taking Supplements

Featured photo credit: Mika Baumeister via unsplash.com

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Reference

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