Energy drinks are basically soft drinks that either contain a form of sugar or artificial sweetener, caffeine, and various other ingredients. Energy drinks became a unique beverage category in 1997 when Red Bull was introduced to the United States from Austria. From 2001 to 2006, there was a 516 percent increase in U.S. sales of energy drinks. The market hit $5.4 billion in 2007 and is expected to reach $10 billion by 2010. Sugar-free energy drinks are one of the fastest growing segments of the energy drink market due to concerns of calories and excess carbohydrates from sugar.
Anatomy of an energy drink
The main active ingredient in energy drinks is caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant, so it does give at least the appearance of energy because it stimulates the brain and central nervous system. Caffeine can come in a variety of forms, and many energy drinks contain guarana or yerba mate, both plants containing caffeine.
Surprisingly, energy drinks are not as high in caffeine as you may think. Most have about 80 milligrams (mg) of caffeine in an 8 oz. can, and the 16 oz. cans may have double that. However, some energy drinks have as much as 350 mg in a can. To put this into perspective, an average cup of coffee has 140 mg per 8 oz., or 250 in a Starbucks tall (12 oz.). A can of soda has between 35-55 mg of caffeine, and a cup of tea has about 50 mg. The FDA does not require caffeine content to be on labels, so it is difficult to know exactly how much caffeine is in a beverage. Some energy drink Web sites reveal the amount of caffeine contained in their products.
Some studies have found that caffeine does indeed help improve cognitive and athletic performance, but most studies do not support a significant effect. The risks of excessive caffeine intake can outweigh these potential positive effects. Too much caffeine can cause high blood pressure, rapid heart rate, nervousness, irritability, inability to sleep, anxiety, and may eventually lead to ulcers. Most health organizations recommend a moderate caffeine intake of less than 300 mg per day, or about the equivalent of 24 ounces of energy drinks.
Most energy drinks contain some form of sugar. Liquid sugar is the nutrient that gets into the bloodstream the quickest, offering instant energy. If you ever feel hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) you know to drink juice or regular soda to get your sugar up fast. But what goes up must come down, and when blood sugar rises quickly, it also falls quickly. Energy drinks can give people a temporary buzz, but the effect is fleeting, says Dawn Jackson Blatner, R.D., a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. But once the initial jolt wears off, people often feel more lethargic than before the drink.
Some energy drink brands now offer sugar-free varieties. These do not contain sugar or calories, but do contain artificial sweeteners.
In order to process energy in the body, certain B vitamins are necessary. Energy drinks add B vitamins such as niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, B-12, and folic acid. While these vitamins are important for metabolism, increased amounts will not produce additional energy. If someone is deficient, the additional vitamins may help, but most people are not deficient, since these nutrients are abundant in our food supply and available in all multivitamins.
Taurine is a non-essential amino acid thought to improve reaction time and concentration. In most people, taurine is abundant in the body. Taurine is also found in meats and seafood.
Ginseng is an herbal supplement used to provide energy. Studies do not support the use of ginseng, and long-term side effects are unknown. Short-term side effects include inability to sleep, headaches, and increased blood pressure.
Present in every cell in the body, D-Ribose is naturally occurring sugar needed to produce ATP, or energy in the body. Research is scant as to whether additional ribose in a supplement or beverage will produce additional feelings of energy.
L-Carnitine is used by the body to break down fat to use for energy. Carnitine deficiencies are rare, and research has not revealed whether more is better.
Energy drinks are often heavily promoted to people involved in sports. However, they are not recommended to rehydrate after exercise, due to the fairly high caffeine content.
Since concentration is such an important aspect of golf, a small amount of caffeine may enhance this ability during play. But, according to Dawn Jackson Blatner, author of The Flexitarian Diet, Too much caffeine can negatively affect performance by making it difficult to focus, and increased nervousness and jitters.
If you have any medical conditions related to high blood pressure or heart disease, you definitely should exercise caution before using any products that contain large amounts of caffeine or other stimulants.
Caffeine has a half-life of six hours, meaning that only half the amount of caffeine you drink is depleted after six hours. Since it can linger in your system for up to 12 hours after ingested, dont have caffeine after noon, or it could affect your quality of sleep.
Energy drinks often contain ingredients that are not well studied in humans. For that reason, use caution with energy drink consumption. If you want to drink one, start out with a small amount to see how your body reacts. Everybody responds differently to food additives. The stimulant nature of many of the ingredients in energy drinks, especially when combined with alcohol, could have serious consequences.
How the body gets energy
Our body gets real physical energy from calories. The definition of a calorie is energy. But since most of us do not have a deficit of calories, why are we often still so tired? Our bodies can only use a certain amount of energy at a given time. When we give our body too much energy it stores it as fat. That excess fat causes us to feel lethargic and not burn as much energy because we are too tired and heavy to move around. When we skip meals or go too long between meals without a snack, our body is low on energy and it is forced to take primarily from our muscle.
Energy drinks may be harmless in small quantities for most healthy people. However, if you rely on energy drinks to boost your energy, it is much better to discover why you are feeling low on energy in the first place. Energy drinks are expensive and just dont live up to the claims they make.
1.Get 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep nightly.
2.Stay well hydrated with 70-100 ounces of fluid daily.
3.Exercise your heart regularly through 30-90 minutes of moderate to intense aerobic exercise daily.
4.Eat light and eat often. Do not go more than 3-4 hours between meals without having a snack to bridge your glucose in between.
5.Eat complex carbohydrates for your bodys preferred source of energy. Foods like bread, rice, pasta, cereal, and tortillas are good choices, especially the whole grain variety.
6.Manage the stress in your life.
7.Guard your time so you do not over-schedule yourself. Allow time for relaxation and rest.
8.If you are smoker, quit smoking. Smoking depletes the oxygen in your blood, leaving you fatigued.
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