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What You Didn’t Know About the World’s Top Three Productivity-Enhancing Drugs

What You Didn’t Know About the World’s Top Three Productivity-Enhancing Drugs
Is This Your Productivity-Enhancing Drug?

There are things people consume to stay awake longer, become more energetic or somehow increase productivity in other ways. They are usually things that people enjoy consuming – often in large volumes. Coffee, Coca-Cola (and other caffeinated soft drinks), and tea are the global big three productivity-enhancing drugs of choice. Most users think they are such great products that they can’t get through the day without. We suggest that quick energy boosts are a problem and that for optimal long-term productivity, users should kick the caffeine habit.

#1 productivity-enhancing drug: COFFEE

Coffee tops our list as the number one productivity-enhancing drug in the world. More than 500 billion cups of coffee are consumed each year – enough to give every man, woman and child on the planet 75 cups a year. There are some heavy users drink that much each week.

Coffee has been around for over a thousand years and is the most important mass produced performance-enhancing substance in the world. Have you seen any coffee-free workplaces lately? Probably not. Coffee has become the number one drug of choice to keep the world’s offices and factories running.

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Wikipedia provides the following statistics on the amount of caffeine found in various types of coffee. Caffeine is the operative ingredient in coffee and it is used in medicine as a heart stimulant.

Depending on the type of coffee and method of preparation, the caffeine content of a single serving can vary greatly. On average, a single cup of coffee of about 207 milliliters (7 fluid ounces) or a single shot of espresso of about 30 mL (1oz) can be expected to contain the following amounts of caffeine:

• Drip coffee: 115–175 mg
• Espresso: 40 mg
• Brewed/Pressed: 80–135 mg
• Instant: 65–100 mg
• Decaf, brewed: 3–4 mg
• Decaf, instant: 2–3 mg

These statistics do not include the “Four Shot Espresso” found at most of the 15,000 Starbucks locations around the world. If everyone started drinking these instead of regular coffee, the world would become a more neurotic place!

#2 productivity-enhancing drug: COCA-COLA

Second on our list of productivity-enhancing drugs is Coca-Cola. This includes both the original Coke that had cocaine in it when it first came out and the modern versions that still boast “secret” formulas but are known to contain substantial doses of caffeine and large amounts of sugar. The main difference between Coke at number two and coffee at number one is that coffee-users can self-regulate the amount of sugar that gets added to each cup. Not so for Coke. The average 355 mL (12 fluid ounces) can or bottle of Coke contains a whopping 10 teaspoons or 40 grams of sugar built into it. This is much more sugar than a coffee drinker, even if theyhappened to be a sugar-junkie, would add to a cup.

For extreme caffeine-hounds, there are extra potent versions like the infamous “Jolt Cola” that boasts “all the sugar and twice the caffeine.” There are all sorts of “energy drinks” now available and most of them are loaded with – guess what? – caffeine and sugar!

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#3 productivity-enhancing drug: TEA

Tea is number three on our list of productivity-enhancing drugs. It has a long history, much longer than coffee. Until the last century, tea was in more widespread use around the world than coffee. Tea has just as much caffeine as coffee does. And like coffee, the tea user can self-regulate the amount of added sugar.

But tea has an added bonus. It contains theobromine and theophylline which also affect performance. While theobromine and caffeine are similar in that they are related alkaloids, researchers have found that theobromine has a lesser impact on the human central nervous system and it stimulates the heart to a greater degree. While theobromine is not as addictive, it has been cited as possibly causing addiction to chocolate – turning some tea drinkers into chocolate junkies? Presently, theophylline is not a banned or controlled substance by the International Olympic Committee; however there is research that shows theophylline is an ergogenic aid.

Independently, green tea has been found by Japanese researcher Takatoshi Murase to boost exercise endurance in mice up to 24% while spurring the use of fat as energy. It might become added to the list of substances that baseball players and other athletes are tested for. Dr. Murase estimates that to match the effects on the mice, these athletes would need to drink about four cups of green tea a day over several weeks.

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Other Choices

If you are not content to use just these top three productivity-enhancing drugs, there are several other popular ones to choose from. These include beer, wine and other substances that contain alcohol. These are not usually classed as productivity-enhancers. Their depressant properties tend to mitigate the productivity-boosts usually derived from reduced inhibitions. When it comes to boosting productivity, the caffeine and sugar combination beat beats alcohol. Mixed drinks, spiked coffees and various caffeine-laced liqueurs impact productivity in less predictable ways.

Very popular in many countries are sugar-laced donuts and other high fat sweets. The sugar-high from these tend to give only a short term boost, much like the top three do. The problem is that the added fat on top of the empty calories cause moderate to heavy users to become sick and obese. The same could be said for most menu items from the button-popping fast food restaurant chains including McDonalds, Burger King and KFC (formerly named Kentucky Fried Chicken). An occasional quick meal from McDonalds including a Big Mac, Coke and fries might help with finishing projects on a deadline but too many of these over several years will likely clog your arteries.

A diet completely devoid of these productivity-enhancing drugs is the way to go for increased productivity, especially over the longer term. There is a small but vocal and growing minority who advocate avoiding caffeine and sugar as much as possible when looking for an energy boost. Both of he authors of this post are among this group that includes many vegans and other health-conscious folks whom you’ll rarely or never find at a McDonalds and who are less likely than others to land in a cardiac ward. Plain, ordinary, odorless, colorless, tasteless water is a popular beverage among this group. Not much of a productivity-booster but a fairly safe choice health-wise. Stay fit, get enough rest, eat and drink natural healthy stuff, and reorganize your life and daily processes so you won’t need to turn to caffeine and sugar laden products for quick energy fixes. Caffeine is especially good at masking the body’s ability to know where it is really at – not a good thing for those of us who are trying to tune into ourselves better.

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Where productivity counts, whether at home, work or play, don’t abuse one or more of the world’s top three productivity-enhancing drugs: coffee, Coke, and tea. Find healthier ways to boost your productivity.

Do you agree, disagree or have other ideas on this topic of energy boosters? Let us know in the comments.

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Last Updated on July 28, 2020

14 Low GI Foods for a Healthier Diet

14 Low GI Foods for a Healthier Diet

Diet trends may come and go, but a low-GI diet remains one of the few that has been shown to include benefits based on science. Low GI foods provide substantial health benefits over those with a high index, and they are key to maintaining a healthy weight.

What is GI? Glycemic index (GI) is the rate at which the carbohydrate content of a food is broken down into glucose and absorbed from the gut into the blood. When you eat foods containing carbohydrates, your body breaks them down into glucose, which is then absorbed into your bloodstream.[1]

The higher the GI of a food, the faster it will be broken down and cause your blood glucose (sugar) to rise. Foods with a high GI rating are digested very quickly and cause your blood sugar to spike. This is why it’s advisable to stick to low GI foods as much as possible, as the carbohydrate content of low GI foods will be digested slowly, allowing a more gradual rise in blood glucose levels.

Foods with a GI scale rating of 70 or more are considered to be high GI. Foods with a rating of 55 or below are considered low GI foods.

It’s important to note that the glycemic index of a food doesn’t factor in the quantity that you eat. For example, although watermelon has a high glycemic index, the water and fiber content of a standard serving of water means it won’t have a significant impact on your blood sugar.

Like watermelon, some high GI foods (such as baked potatoes) are high in nutrients. And some low GI foods (such as corn chips) contain high amounts of trans fats.

In most cases, however, the GI is an important means of gauging the right foods for a healthy diet.

Eating mainly low GI foods every day helps to provide your body with a slow, continuous supply of energy. The carbohydrates in low GI foods is digested slowly, so you feel satisfied for longer. This means you’ll be less likely to suffer from fluctuating sugar levels that can lead to cravings and snacking.

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Let’s continue with some of the best examples of low GI foods.

1. Quinoa

GI: 53

Quinoa has a slightly higher GI than rice or barley, but it contains a much higher proportion of protein. If you don’t get enough protein from the rest of your diet, quinoa could help. It’s technically a seed, so it’s also high in fiber–again, more than most grains. It’s also gluten-free, which makes it excellent for those with Celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

2. Brown Rice (Steamed)

GI: 50

Versatile and satisfying, brown rice is one of the best low GI foods and is a staple for many dishes around the world. It’s whole rice from which only the husk (the outermost layer) is removed, so it’s a great source of fiber. In fact, brown rice has been shown to help lower cholesterol, improve digestive function, promote fullness, and may even help prevent the formation of blood clots. Just remember to always choose brown over white!

3. Corn on the Cob

GI: 48

Although it tastes sweet, corn on the cob is a good source of slow-burning energy (and one of the tastiest low GI foods). It’s also a good plant source of Vitamin B12, folic acid, and iron, all of which are required for the healthy production of red blood cells in the body. It’s healthiest when eaten without butter and salt!

4. Bananas

GI: 47

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Bananas are a superfood in many ways. They’re rich in potassium and manganese and contain a good amount of vitamin C. Their low GI rating means they’re great for replenishing your fuel stores after a workout.

They are easy to add to smoothies, cereal, or kept on your desk for a quick snack. The less ripe they are, the lower the sugar content is! As one of the best low GI foods, it’s a great addition to any daily diet.

5. Bran Cereal

GI: 43

Bran is famous for being one of the highest cereal sources of fiber. It’s also rich in a huge range of nutrients: calcium, folic acid, iron, magnesium, and a host of B vitamins. Although bran may not be to everyone’s tastes, it can easily be added to other cereals to boost the fiber content and lower the overall GI rating.

6. Natural Muesli

GI: 40

Muesli–when made with unsweetened rolled oats, nuts, dried fruit, and other sugar-free ingredients–is one of the healthiest ways to start the day. It’s also very easy to make at home with a variety of other low GI foods. Add yogurt and fresh fruit for a nourishing, energy-packed breakfast.

7. Apples

GI: 40

Apple skin is a great source of pectin, an important prebiotic that helps to feed the good bacteria in your gut. Apples are also high in polyphenols, which function as antioxidants, and contain a good amount of vitamin C. They are best eaten raw with the skin on! Apples are one of a number of fruits[2] that have a low glycemic index. Be careful which fruits you choose, as many have a large amount of natural sugars[3].

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8. Apricots

GI: 30

Apricots provide both fiber and potassium, which make them an ideal snack for both athletes and anyone trying to keep sugar cravings at bay. They’re also a source of antioxidants and a range of minerals.

Apricots can be added to salads, cereals, or eaten as part of a healthy mix with nuts at any time of the day.

9. Kidney Beans

GI: 29

Kidney beans and other legumes provide a substantial serving of plant-based protein, so they can be used in lots of vegetarian dishes if you’re looking to adopt a plant-based diet[4]. They’re also packed with fiber and a variety of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and other beneficial plant compounds. They are great in soups, stews, or with (whole grain) tacos.

10. Barley

GI: 22

Barley is a cereal grain that can be eaten in lots of ways. It’s an excellent source of B vitamins, including niacin, thiamin, and pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), fiber, molybdenum, manganese, and selenium. It also contains beta-glucans, a type of fiber that can support gut health and has been shown to reduce appetite and food intake.

Please note that barley does contain gluten, which makes it unsuitable for anyone who is Celiac[5] or who follows a gluten-free diet. In this case, gluten-free alternatives might include quinoa, buckwheat, or millet.

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11. Raw Nuts

GI: 20

Most nuts have a low GI of between 0 and 20, with cashews slightly higher at around 22. Nuts, as one of the best low GI foods, are a crucial part of the Mediterranean diet[6] and are really the perfect snack: they’re a source of plant-based protein, high in fiber, and contain healthy fats. Add them to smoothies and salads to boost the nutritional content. Try to avoid roasted and salted nuts, as these are made with large amounts of added salt and (usually) trans fats.

12. Carrots

GI: 16

Raw carrots are not only a delicious low GI vegetable, but they really do help your vision! They contain vitamin A (beta carotene) and a host of antioxidants. They’re also low-calorie and high in fiber, and they contain good amounts of vitamin K1, potassium, and antioxidants. Carrots are great for those monitoring their weight as they’ve been linked to lower cholesterol levels.

13. Greek Yogurt

GI: 12

Unsweetened Greek yogurt is not only low GI, but it’s an excellent source of calcium and probiotics, as well. Probiotics help to keep your gut microbiome in balance and support your overall digestive health and immune function. Greek yogurt makes a healthy breakfast, snack, dessert, or a replacement for dip. The most common probiotic strains found in yogurt are Streptococcus thermophilus[7] (found naturally in yogurt) and Lactobacillus acidophilus[8] (which is often added by the manufacturer). You can also look into probiotic supplements for improving your gut health.

14. Hummus

GI: 6

When made the traditional way from chickpeas and tahini, hummus is a fantastic, low-GI dish. It’s a staple in many Middle Eastern countries and can be eaten with almost any savory meal. Full of fiber to maintain satiety and feed your good gut bacteria, hummus is great paired with freshly-chopped vegetables, such as carrots and celery.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking to eat healthier or simply cut down on snacking throughout the day, eating low GI foods is a great way to get started. Choose any of the above foods for a healthy addition to your daily diet and start feeling better for longer.

More Tips on Eating Healthy

Featured photo credit: Alexander Mils via unsplash.com

Reference

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