Addicted to energy drinks? Try these alternatives

Addicted to energy drinks? Try these alternatives

Highly caffeinated energy drinks are hugely popular for their ability to energize the tired and weary, especially young adults.

But are these drinks possibly doing more harm than good to our bodies?

Energy drinks are made up of a combination of caffeine and sugars. They also contain other stimulants, including taurine and carnitine, which are other sources of caffeine. Taken together, some energy drinks may contain up to 500 mg of caffeine or the equivalent of four to five cups of coffee.

Experts recommend that adults consume no more than 400 mg of caffeine a day. Any more than this, and you put yourself at risk of serious side effects, including elevated heart rate and blood pressure, headaches, bad digestion, poor sleep and mood swings.

So for individuals who crave energy drinks, what alternatives are there?

“The purpose of these energy drinks may be to provide some jolt of energy, but there is no nutritional need for them,” says Barbara Melendi, a registered dietitian nutritionist at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. “If you notice you’re starting to feel a little tired, you can eat natural whole foods that not only give you energy but also provide nutritional benefits.”

Melendi offers three healthy alternatives to energy drinks:

An apple. Don’t be fooled: Apples don’t have any caffeine, but they do contain enough sugar to provide a nice boost of energy. The sugar in the apple is slowly digested, feeding your body energy over a longer period of time – a sharp contrast to energy drinks, which often lead to sugar crashes. Of course, apples offer other nutritional benefits, including fiber and important vitamins.

Peanut butter and whole wheat crackers. Peanut butter and crackers is just one example of a wholesome snack that combines good carbohydrates and protein. Since hunger can lead to feelings of exhaustion and fatigue, this powerful combination packs a ton of nutritional power that keeps you full, nourished and awake.

Water or tea. Dehydration can also lead to feelings of tiredness, so Melendi suggests consuming 91 ounces of water for women and 125 ounces of water for men. Tea is also an easy way to stay hydrated and get a quick caffeine fix at the same time.

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About the Author

Jaimie Oh
Jaimie Oh

Jaimie Oh, health enews contributor, is the manager of public affairs and marketing at Illinois Masonic in Chicago. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia and has nearly a decade of experience working in publishing, strategic communications and marketing. Outside of work, Jaimie trains for marathons with the goal of running 50 races before she turns 50 years old.